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weeveeship's avatar

What advice do you have for my self-conscious INTJ friend?

Asked by weeveeship (4610points) September 16th, 2010

My best friend is an INTJ on the MBTI scale (he has tested several times on multiple sites and got INTJ as his type every time).

Now, when my friend is with me, he always has interesting theories about everything: politics, economics, societal norms. He tends to have views that are more conservative than is the norm where we live, but he is never hateful or anything like that. Like he believes that there should be lower taxes and less government spending, but he does not go so far to mock the president. He is not a Tea Partier.

My friend is also not into trends like rap.

When my friend is with others, he usually keeps his theories to himself, instead opting for more conventional topics like school or the weather. He seems awkward and ill at ease doing that though, because he is not very big on sensory details, making him seem dull.

I asked him once why he doesn’t just act natural and he told me that people would laugh at him if he shares his views. I don’t agree with some of his views but I never laugh at him. Since he is not hateful or racist, I don’t see why he does not discuss his views with others, not even with acquaintances.

So, my questions are:
1. Is my friend wise in not discussing topics that could be controversial in public?
2. Do you have any advice for my friend?

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11 Answers

Master's avatar

I can’t say I have any advise. A blind person can’t guide another.

I am also the kind of introverted/sensitive personality and if there’s one thing I can say is I don’t like is when another person (out of the goodness of their heart) tries to “force me out.” Maybe is not that he doesn’t like to share his views, maybe he just does so with certain people, like you. People he thinks are worthy of his deeper thoughts.

Introverts are different, yet we must share the world with the extroverts. Our culture exalts being extroverts and praises it, but unlike extroverts, we don’t get energized by constant social exposure. Au contraire, it drains energy.

That said, introvert is not the same as self-conscious. Being self-conscious could be an issue, but not being INTJ.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Firstly, your grammatical skills and general English are excellent. Kudos.
Concerning your friend I feel he is wise to restrict himself from sharing theories with any given group as there is, as they say, a time and place for everything. Refusing to share with anyone aside from yourself however may be more questionable, particularly as his justification is that others would make a mockery of him. The key suggestion I would offer is also the simplest one, encourage him. With some light assistance he may develop the confidence to share his more significant opinions.
Incidentally I would not place too great an emphasis on the MBTI scale. It’s certainly an interesting device but you could have excluded its mention in lieu of plainly referring to your friend as an introverted but intelligent and rational character.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have no advice. I would suggest that you simply let your friend be who he is. He’ll either come out of his shell or he won’t. You’re not going to change him.

Cruiser's avatar

My advice is to you to back off your friend. The “I” in INTJ stands for introvert and that is all you should need to know as he is full of thoughts….his thoughts that he prefers to keep to himself. No one should be forced to share anything they don’t want to. I am an INTJ myself and I too will not discuss certain topics at will but I will gladly over analyze what ever topic it is you want to explore.

Kraigmo's avatar

I think “by laugh at him” he might not mean that literally. But some people do get uncomfortable around people who bring up deep issues, or religious issues, or political issues, and your friend may already be aware of this. The usual reaction isn’t laughing though. It’s usually fear covered by seeming disinterest.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My guess is that your friend feels comfortable sharing their views with you because they’ve tested the water and learned that it didn’t cause waves. Maybe they have done so with others, and the result wasn’t as pretty.

Two suggestions:
#1: Why not let it go? I fondly refer to this as the Mr. Ed Personality. If you aren’t familiar with Mr. Ed, he was a horse who would never speak unless he had something to say.

#2 Why not invite your friend to join Fluther and check it out? It might be a way for them to develop a comfort in sharing their opinions and learn to handle differing viewpoints in a less painful environment than face-to-face.

ftp901's avatar

I’m an INTP but sometimes test as INTJ (the professional version of me). I do the same thing as your friend. I talk about mundane things with co-workers or acquaintances because I know they don’t want to hear about my views on religion, politics, spirituality or other big ideas about the world (the things I actually care about) and quite, frankly I can’t be bothered explaining it to them. Sometimes it’s easier to just small talk – let your friend use his judgement. He should be able to share whatever he wants with whomever he wants. It is natural that he would want to share more with his close friends and family. Introverts are not open books – that’s why extroverts love us.

My advice to your friend is to acknowledge that being introverted is a special quality that makes you able to do things that other people can’t. As an introvert (especially INT), you have an extraordinary ability to solve problems and think through things logically that other people would never have the patience for. Most of the world are extroverts, so sometimes it can seem like they are doing things the right way and there is an implication that us introverts are not (eg. when I was in school my teachers always told me to speak up more in class). However, we’re just doing things differently – extroverts are the ones that tend to be vocal about it though. Introverts have lots of advantages that extroverts don’t.

Here’s a good book: http://www.theintrovertadvantage.com/advantage.html

Sarcasm's avatar

I’m a very shy INTJ. I can give you my input, but I am not him. If you really want him to be more chatty, it may be a good idea to ask him about this.

First, please don’t tell him why he just doesn’t “act natural”. Despite what may be natural for you, it’s apparently not natural for him. It feels like a putdown, it’s a reminder of how much he doesn’t fit in. It’s like if I was to go to a class of Pre-Algebra kids, give them a Calculus problem and then ask them “This is so simple! Why can’t you solve this?”

Second, does he seem to take a backseat in all conversations? Or only ones about those “serious” issues like religion and politics?
Unless I’m chatting with just 1 person, I always take a passive role in conversations. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise, when the chattier/extroverted people just keep talking, and I find it extremely rude to interrupt. So I wait until somebody actively includes me in the conversation.

In regards to the political discussions, I avoid talking about them for 3 reasons.
1) Everyone has gotten swept up into all of this emotional advertising, and ignores logic.—Given that your friend is an INTJ, and you mentioned he doesn’t fall into trends, he probably doesn’t fall for the emotional advertising either.—My facts and logical arguments go in one ear and out the other, while they fall in love with posters calling Obama an islamofascist socialist, with a little Hitler mustache drawn on him. And I just don’t feel like there’s any reason in using reason on the unreasonable. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

2) I don’t want to hear a point of view that doesn’t have its facts to back it up. So, in turn, I don’t ever want to give my point of view, unless I have the facts to back it up. I don’t ever want to encounter a part of the conversation where I’m not 100% certain in my answer. This is where I worry about people laughing at me (either out loud, or in their heads). So if I’m not completely certain, I’ll just avoid it.

3) I just don’t get the feeling that people are actually interested in my opinions in the first place. But that may just be my insecurity speaking.

So, what can you do to help get him more into the conversations?
-Try to actively include him. Ask him “Hey, what do you think about XYZ?” That way he knows his opinion is wanted, and he knows it’s his opportunity to speak.
-Try getting him more chatty in smaller groups. You say he’s open to chat when he’s with just you, but he clams up in big groups. What about when it’s you two plus one other person? Or two other people? with fewer people, there’s fewer people to laugh at him, and fewer people to interrupt him.
-Try to warm him up to the conversation by talking about things that he does know about and is interested in.

I commend you in your efforts to get your INTJ friend out of his shell. Just don’t try to push him too hard.

weeveeship's avatar

I spoke to my friend and he said that he has in fact been trying to interact with people more. Even though he is an introvert, he ends up initating contact more oten as people would not naturally come to him. While he is getting more open, he does sometimes wonder why people would not contact him. He does not have any weird or disagreeable traits, and is quite smart and nice.

He also wonders why most of his conversations go something like this (I have actually observed this firsthand as well):
My Friend: “hi”
Some dude: “hi”
“how are you?”
“good. you?”
“I’m doing well, thanks.”

**Awkward pause**
My Friend: “Did you see the Packers game last night?”
Dude: “yeah. it was good.”
“What do you like about it?”
“Quarterback’s a beast”

**Awkward pause-the dude does not say anything**
My Friend: “Nice weather we’re having, eh?”
Dude: “Yeah. Hey, I’ve got to go. Have a good one.”

**End of conversation**

Whereas, the same dude with someone else, even a complete stranger, would talk about his love life, his dog, his cat, his love for the Packers, etc., etc. My friend tried talking to the dude about the Packers (or whatever team is in vogue at the time) but to no avail.

My friend wonders why people like those dudes (and it’s not the same dude nor even the same group of dudes and sometimes it’s a dudette) act so drastically different around him versus around other people. He tells me jokingly, “It’s not like I bite or something.” I try my best to comfort him.

He wonders if there is something wrong with his conversational skills, but I don’t see that as the problem. He does not stutter or have a weird accent.

Overall though, he remains a positive outlook on life and believes that he would get better at making friends someday. Funny thing is, he is an awesome public speaker (even his teachers think so) and is a pretty good one-to-one conversationalist with the right people. In groups, though, he seems to be more quiet as extraverts dominate the discussion. My friend tells jokes but is cautious in doing so, because some jokes can be taken the wrong way (esp. in today’s society).

Any advice?

lonelydragon's avatar

I am not sure how much help I can offer. After all, I am an INTJ with the exact same problem as your friend. Most people would say, “Get out there and share your views!” But introverts, unlike extroverts, are private people and don’t go out of their way to share their life stories or the thoughts in their heads. On top of his introversion, your friend may have been rejected the last time he tried to share his views, which would only make him retreat further into himself. Sometimes it’s actually safer, if more lonely, not to speak.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

^ Thank you.

When people ask me a question and then interrupt to share their views, it sends a message. It may be that they are bored with my answer, don’t care, disagree, or get so excited or incensed about what my viewpoint is that they feel compelled to jump in and speak their mind. At that point, I back off and wait to see if they ask me to pick up where I left off. On a rare occasion, someone does.

There are other friends that just want to talk. They share the details of their weekend, their night, their thoughts and feelings. They aren’t looking for conversation. They just want an audience. Some of their stories have been heard over and over again.

I have been told that I appear to have a wall around me. It isn’t the case; ask me anything, and I’ll share a personal experience or view. If you don’t, then I assume that you don’t care. I know this assumption isn’t always right, but for some reason, I cannot bring myself to change the manner of communication.

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