When John left his university position (see John’s story) along with a few of his colleagues, Vera was among them—the only female in the group. Unknown to Vera, John had fought a major battle to include her. Even in a group comprised largely of NTs, Vera seemed more able to ruffle feathers than anyone else. John was convinced that others were simply seeing her behavior differently because she was a woman, and women were expected to be sensitive and caring for the feelings of others. This was not one of Vera’s strong points!
She was a highly talented scientist and was responsible for the research development of Genclone’s first successful drug. This went a long way toward improving her status in the group with most members. However, one male scientist could not be won over and took every opportunity to criticize her work, her attitude, and even her appearance. His attacks were so unrelenting that some thought he was trying to drive her out of the firm. Vera suffered in silence for years, confiding only in John and her own family. Finally, pushed beyond her limits, she lashed out at the colleague in calm but deadly terms, accusing him of attacking her to cover up his own shoddy science and unethical behavior. The group reacted with disbelief, and soon she was back without a friend except John. After laying out her charges against the colleague, she refused to discuss the matter further, retreating more and more into her own research work. However, in the next few months, hard evidence emerged that the colleague had indeed published false results. He was finished as a scientist and left the firm in disgrace.
The combination of Vera’s gender, her very Introverted reserve, and her blunt Thinker’s communication style had isolated her from colleagues who had come to respect her very much for her brilliant mind and her honesty. At heart, she was a kind and honorable person. Within her family and with her closest friends, she could express caring and warmth, but beyond this circle, she tended to impress others as aloof and emotionless.
She trusted John wholeheartedly, however, and he never stopped trying to get her to open up more and hold her slightly sharp tongue more when dealing with others. As years went by, she did mellow a bit and tried to use her good mind to think about situations from perspectives other than her own. Once the harassing colleague was gone, she became less defensive and a little more open. Vera will never win any “Miss Congeniality” awards, but there are those who think the Nobel Prize in medicine might be quite possible for her, and respect her profoundly for this.
We have used the story of Vera as an example of both great potential and serious stresses that can occur with very strong INTJ preferences. Because we have great respect for the innate nature of type, we would never suggest that it would have been a better story if Vera’s parents had attempted to make her into someone else. If such a thing were possible, we would predict that she would merely have become a miserable shadow of the talented and effective person that we have described. What would be helpful, however, is the approach that John tried to take as a friend. Strongly Introverted Thinkers can benefit from understanding their own natural preferences andfrom understanding how very different the preferences and needs of others may be. As is true for all types, they need to learn to see and respect differences in others. A softer and more thoughtful tone from Vera might have won her friends and allies in Genclone much earlier, and avoided considerable unhappiness.
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