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An INTJ weakness so big, it makes us laugh

Thursday August 18, 2016

The traditional INTJ “blind spot” cognitive function is known as “extraverted feeling,” or Fe for short. Have any of the following ever made you uncomfortable? Maybe you rolled your eyes at them, or joked about them?

  • Terms of romantic endearment and other similarly “feely” or “gushy” language
  • Respect for, and deference to, social authority and position “Esteemed Sir, we humbly thank you for deeming it worth your time to…”
  • Phrases like “Warm regards” at the end of an email (personally I get as far as “best regards” and then I’m shot)
  • Polite, happy small talk that feels like it can go on forever
  • Deciding what to eat at a restaurant, based on how it will make your dining partner feel?
  • Deciding how to introduce yourself, and downplaying yourself, communicating more emotively, or acting out of authority, based on the social hierarchy-level or even job title of the person you are greeting?

Maybe you’ve heard: INTJs are “thinkers, not feelers.” But this hides the important truth that we are feelers, just different feelers than the extraverted kind.

How INTJs typically “feel”

In the most common Jungian function stack model of personality, INTJs use “introverted feeling” (or Fi) as their tertiary psychological function. As a result, INTJs may:

  • Feel attached to strong inner values, needing to “find the me” in whatever they do
  • Attach warmly to animals
  • Attach warmly to people who seem like “lost causes” or outcasts, wishing to affirm their essential acceptance of their humanity
  • Feel devoted or loyal, especially to someone they feel is loyal to them
  • Place a high price on their loyalty: For example, one failure to keep their trust merits a complete breakdown of all trust
  • Behave in emotionally manipulative ways under high stress (for instance, telling very sad stories about one’s past in order to obtain sympathy)
  • In extreme cases, be accused of selfishness and self-centeredness, especially by those who prefer the more socially-oriented extraverted feeling.

Some of this probably sounds ridiculous too, but Fi is a necessary part of the human experience. When we use Fi in a black and white manner it can cause problems, but in normal, day-to-day use it also may bring creative opportunities and help us feel like our life is worthwhile.

I like to recommend using Ti (introverted thinking) to develop frameworks or sets of rules for allowing our feelings to guide our decisions.

For more on Fi and Ti, I recommend Dario Nardi’s book, 8 Keys to Self-leadership.

Anyway, back to extraverted feeling…

“Fe,” or extraverted feeling, is the counterpart to introverted feeling. Where Fi is big on one’s own subjective values, Fe works with a broader set of widely-understood cultural values and standards.

If Fe was a person, he or she might be, for example, a fan of the governor, the mayor, the CEO. Fe is big on the importance of one’s official role. Fe loves certifications, qualifications, and advanced degrees.

Fi, on the other hand, might thumb up its nose at all that, and rather hang out with a more authentic person, even if they live in a gutter.

Fe shudders at gutter people, unless the entire social group is shuddering. Then Fe will tend to shudder right along with them for the time being.

Fe is sometimes found combined with Ti in a personality type, with the result being a person who is capable of swindling people with a honeyed tongue, or a savvy political maneuverer. A very social, very crafty plotter. In positive cases, perhaps a Fe/Ti user will use their convincing charisma and social grace to find clever ways to benefit humanity, or create opportunities for the disadvantaged.

Fe is fantastic at energizing group relations, and maintaining a balanced sense of positive energy, so that great things can be accomplished.

Still, regardless of the upsides, Fe can seem really uncomfortable and worthless to the INTJ.

And that’s really too bad: Even if you’re an INTJ, you still need to build rapport and interact with others. We all do. Fe is actually important, it keeps society and group cultures moving along generally peacefully and we can appreciate that in rational terms because it’s already in place and it’s working, helping our civilization forge ahead.

A funny example of Fe-style communication

When I was a kid, when everyone was exchanging cassette tapes with their girlfriend or boyfriend, two of these tapes ended up in my possession. One, I either stole from my sister or she left it behind when she got married and moved out. Now, as she is a Fe-aux, and had a tertiary-Fe boyfriend, it was hilarious. The tape was made by this boyfriend, who uses Fe about as awkwardly as we INTJs use Fi.

I pressed Play and heard this:

“Hi Carmeleeeeee [I’m pretending my sister’s name is Carmel here because I think it’s funny]…I hope you are having a…just a…wonderful day. It’s so sunny here where I am, the birds are tweeting outside…all I can think of is you. I hope you enjoy these songs, sweetheart. Love you so, so much!”

I can’t communicate the various vocal tones here, but just imagine a grown man trying to sound like a young woman and you’ll get the idea just fine.

Another tape, I later received from an ENFJ girlfriend, Fe-dominant. In that case, it wasn’t that the tape had corny language on it (which it did), but more the fact that it was a thing that was done back then, a relationship formality. That’s a huge deal to a Fe-user. And really I just put it into my cassette player, listened for the first few minutes, and turned it off. It was just so awkward.

The thing about Fe-dominant personality types (ESFJ, ENFJ) is that sometimes the “empathetic and respectful” language gets so well used that you feel like you’re talking to a corporate mission statement. In environments like these, where Fe is overused, you can usually find INTJs and INTPs who are so burned out by corporate life that they read Scott Adams, get incredibly pessimistic, and then eventually quit to become Buddhist monks, or maybe writers of satire.

In my opinion, it’s better to work to understand Fe (the Dario Nardi book mentioned above is a good start) and maybe integrate it into your life a bit, and still have the casual laugh about it, than to completely mock it and then end up completely unprepared when you end up managing Fe-doms or needing to work under them. That set of circumstances would almost be the definition of “suck” for an INTJ.

So that’s Fe. I hope it made you cringe and roll your eyes a little bit. You introverted feeler, you.

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