5 Reasons INTPs Might Seem Odd to Others—And What You Can Do About It
INTPs have a reputation for being the "oddball" personality type. Isabel Briggs Myers called this type the "scholars, theorists, and abstract thinkers" of the personality theory universe, and they're also commonly known as the "Architect" or "Logician" type. INTPs want to understand the world in all its glorious complexity, and love using others as a sounding board for their brilliant ideas and theories. Some might describe the INTP as the smartest personality type—rational, creative, and ceaselessly curious. Others might describe him as an insufferable know-it-all who can never admit he is wrong. One thing's for sure—the INTP divides opinion.
If you are an INTP, you already know that your everyday behavior can seem strange to others (and if you're not sure, you can take the free personality test). Unconventional personalities like yours are often told that they're kooky, weird or eccentric because you're different from the norm, and people find that disconcerting. The hardest part is figuring out which of your idiosyncrasies to keep, and which to tone down a little.
Here are some of the things that might earn you the oddball label, and what you can do to overcome this problem.
#1: You are a walking, talking encyclopedia of knowledge
INTPs are all about facts and more facts. You like to be correct about things, and deal with problems rationally and logically. This can be intimidating for others to understand, partly because they can't retain as many facts as you do, but also because it's hard to hold a conversation with someone who is always one step ahead of you. It doesn't help that you don't just load your brain with copious detail, you use that knowledge to rigorously analyze problems from every angle. Others may not understand why you're theorizing even the most casual conversations, or why you're getting so stubborn about things.
How to lose the odd label: It's great that you're a walking database and that you care about enlightening people. Just take care to simplify the facts so that other people can understand them better. And learn to back away when it's clear that someone wants a quick-and-dirty solution. Some personalities can't handle esoteric concepts.
#2: You find emotions irrational and unnerving
The biggest thorn in an INTP's side is their emotions. You can get so focused on reason and analysis that you often lose sight of the human factor, and interpret emotion with the detached logic of a scientific researcher. It's hard for you to own up to feelings like anger, shame or disappointment, since your mind wants to rationalize them. When you do express your feelings, it can be like a flood with the dam breaking loose - terrifying for everyone else in the room. Or you may withdraw entirely when things get too emotional, earning you the reputation of being aloof and emotionless.
How to lose the odd label: It helps to have Feelers in your life to help you recognize and express your feelings. Your intellect can also save you, since you're smart enough to understand emotions when you see them and can think your way through emotional situations. Be present, but remain silent, if you don't know what to say. You might always feel awkward when a friend starts crying, but they'll appreciate the fact that you're there for them.
#3: You can be cutting and passive aggressive
Ignorance of any kind annoys the INTP. You immediately turn off from people who assume they know all the facts about a situation when usually they know none of them. You're highly tolerant of difference and can be mercilessly blunt, cutting and sarcastic with those who express personal bias, irrational judgment, or insincere views. Sometimes, you might sound like you're having a joke at someone else's expense. If someone seriously annoys you, there's a risk that you'll adopt passive-aggressive tendencies such as popping on your headphones and deliberately ignoring the conversation, or not answering the phone for days or months. This behavior is startlingly odd to those who value harmony and social interaction.
How to lose the odd label: It takes more than one bout of ignorance for you to proclaim a person "stupid," and it's fair to say that when you offer criticism, you're criticizing what the person is talking about, not them personally. Even so, there's such a thing as being too honest. Learning to keep your mouth shut is helpful, and you may need to develop tolerance in general as you tend to see the criticism you offer as objective and impartial, yet take it personally when on the receiving end.
#4: You have the attention span of a goldfish
INTPs are not lazy. In fact, you're especially good at concentrating on the things that interest you and love working in the realm of ideas. The problem is, you tend to have so many ideas that procrastination is rampant. You fly off on tangents, daydreaming and mulling things over to the point where you forget the passage of time. Thinking about ideas is so rewarding that you might stop right there. To others looking in, it seems like you have the attention span of a goldfish, always flitting from one idea to the next without ever getting things done. When productivity is paramount, for example, in school or at work, your lack of follow through can come across as careless and spacey.
How to lose the odd label: Paying attention for long periods is a skill that you must train for, a bit like training for a marathon. There are plenty of resources out there to help INTPs organize their environment and create a productive routine. For example, you might focus on smaller goals instead of the big, overarching ones. Tackling projects in small chunks will help you to stay motivated and prevent your routine-loathing brain from becoming overwhelmed and understimulated. For many INTPs, it also helps to be exposed to people who get things done - these people can stop you from sliding too far away from important goals.
#5 You couldn't give two hoots about the real world
INTPs have little appetite for the mundane aspects of life, like tying their shoelaces, arriving on time, or doing things because the world says they should. You are more likely to march to the beat of your own drum than to follow the crowd. Reality is often an obstacle to be overcome, since it gets in the way of your inner world. Left to your own devices, there's a chance that you'd become so wrapped up in your own thoughts and ideas that you'd forget the world of others—this is both a blessing and a curse. To compound the problem, INTPs are a rare breed, making up just three percent of the population. There simply aren't many people who can relate to your unconventional mindset, so it's no wonder that others think you're "weird."
How to lose the odd label: Quirkiness is the variety of odd behavior that you probably won't want to change. And why should you? Throughout history, the great innovators and game changers of this world were those who were not afraid to be different. Plenty of people will love your unconventional dress sense, your offbeat sense of humor and your brilliant, crazy ideas. Your originality is magical—embrace it!