Many people cringe at the idea of manipulation being used to achieve results.
And they believe that the end never justifies the means.
Individual personality types may have different approaches to accomplishing goals based on hardwiring.
For example, do personality types such as INTJs view manipulation as a viable resource for achieving objectives, which may differ from other personality types?
I think so.
The challenging part of manipulation is its relativity.
Researchers suggest a difference between manipulation’s negative connotations and influence’s positive underpinnings.
Dr. Matt James, in a Psychology Today article titled “Are You Being Influenced or Manipulated?” defined Manipulation as:
…Having control over others by having the ability to influence their behavior (emotions) and their actions so things can go in the manipulator’s favor and to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage… (para. 5).
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Influence as:
A: The act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command;
B: Corrupt interference with authority for personal gain…
Dr. James attempts to delineate the difference between manipulation and influence by using terms that suggest that those garnering influence tend to make you feel good or serve as inspiration.
Based on this waffling, manipulation seems subjective based on the outcome. If the outcome is positive, it is influence. If the outcome is negative, it is manipulation.
So, does the end justify the means?
For the sake of discussion, let’s agree that human nature is selfish and individuals want to merely satisfy their needs.
They may not mean to inflict harm on others, but harm (emotional) is the unintended consequence when people are ambitiously pursuing their goals.
Due to the hardwiring of INTJs as analysts, they would positively handle manipulation as a tool to influence a specific outcome.
The website 16 Personalities outlined that “Architects (INTJs) pride themselves on their minds. For them, nearly any situation can become an opportunity to expand their knowledge and hone their rational thinking skills. Thanks to this mindset, they can devise inventive solutions to even the most arduous of problems” (p. 1).
INTJs’ form of manipulation would be similar to legal analysis. An INTJ may discover a rarely used law that has not been repealed and remains on the books.
However, this INTJ wants to use the law for a particular circumstance that it arguably was not intended for.
Through persuasion and past precedents, the INTJ prevails.
In this context, we use Oxford Dictionary’s Manipulate as “Handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.”
We are not applying pejoratives nor accolades on the word manipulation but using all the legally and morally viable tools to affect optimal results.
INTJs are highly skilled problem solvers with the requisite sensitivity, empathy, and reason to make hard decisions.
If you want fair and equitable outcomes, these introverts can be trusted to use whatever tools available to effect this end.
Kirsten Moodie of Personality Growth said,
INTJs are incredible problem solvers and have a natural ability to figure things out. INTJs enjoy looking at the information in front of them and finding the best possible way to approach a problem. They love being able to use their incredible minds as a way of concocting the perfect plan. INTJs are great problem solvers because they will gather as much information as possible and use their inner minds to process the best and most logical solution. They are also relatively intuitive people, and have a knack for processing a lot of information, which other people will miss things (para. 6).
Yes, but can INTJs be trusted manipulators?
Dr. A.J. Drenth of Personality Junkie said,
Unfortunately, people too often overlook the positive side of INTJs’ sensitivity, namely, its contribution to their insight and perceptiveness. If we think of a sensitive nervous system as one that is highly attuned to all sorts of stimuli, it should not surprise us that INTJs can pick up on nuances and subtleties that are lost on other types. This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with their intuition, which requires the accurate perception of raw data (and lots of it) to work its magic (para. 6).
This is not to say that INTJs cannot use their superior skills in nefarious ways.
There will always be individuals who aspire to acquire and use power, wickedly.
Given a choice between INTJs and megalomaniacs, who would you prefer?
Both personality types are most willing to tackle complex problems, although with different motivations.
Author Lucio Buffalmano of Power University described three manipulative strategies often used for persuasion, which are:
Social scalping seeks to amplify one’s contribution and devalue the other’s contribution as a way of taking more than they give.
Guilt tripping makes people feel bad for something they either did or failed to do and manipulates them into acting to “make up” for their wrongdoings.
Manipulative moralizing makes others feel guilty for behaviors or beliefs that do not conform to the manipulator’s set of morals and ethics.
Edward Brown of the American Academy of Advanced Thinking outlined the five best conditions for INTJs to use manipulation, which is:
- A group or committee does not want to take a position on an unpopular initiative.
- When people do not want to change long-held beliefs, that now prove to be ineffective.
- An opposing group has used unsavory tactics that are netting results.
- Enforcement is necessary, but no one wants to act.
- Without some form of manipulation, the issue will grow worse.
The importance of enlightened self-interest
Although many INTJs may suffer from a “God complex,” it would be unbalanced and disingenuous to believe that their manipulation and intellectual contributions stem purely from altruism.
Their high intellect, cultivated by years of study and contemplation, breeds a sense of elitism and entitlement.
Consequently, INTJs may give to get.
Such a concept falls under the notion of enlightened self-interest.
Relationship experts Linda and Charlie Bloom said, “Enlightened self-interest refers to the understanding and trust that what a person does to enhance another’s quality of life enhances one’s own quality of life to a similar degree” (para. 4).
Since INTJs live in a world of ideas and imagination, the idea of the epic hero is not far-fetched.
Their imagination of slaying the dragon to save the world is a metaphor for developing compelling solutions that solve human challenges.
Enlightened self-interest beckons that good deeds deserve prizes, whether a mere thank you or some material reward.
Yes, manipulation can be a powerful tool for INTJs because they possess the requisite sensitivity, care, and intellect to contribute to the well-being of society.
Left to the devices of the general public, manipulation would convey the negative consequences that are often feared.
However, manipulation can produce results that boggle the mind in the right hands.
It all depends on the skill of those doing the handling.
Architect (INTJ) Strengths and Weaknesses (n.d.). 16 Personalities. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3A9ndrZ.
Bloom, L., and Bloom, C. (2012, Dec. 17). Enlightened self-interest. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3vNj1LF.
Buffalmano, L. (n.d.). Manipulation: Techniques, strategies & ethics. The Power Moves. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3QB1EpH.
Drenth, A.J. (n.d.). INTJ-T vs. INTJ-A. Personality Junkie. Retrieve from: https://bit.ly/3A8TAqJ.
James, M. (2013, Sept. 10). Are you being influenced or manipulated? Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3BRdQhK.
Moodie, K. (2017, Oct. 23). Here’s how good you are at problem solving based on your personality type. Personality Growth. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3Pdp1US.