I know what I know I'll sing what I said We come and we go That's a thing that I keep In the back of my head -Paul Simon, "I Know What I Know", Graceland
I was digging around some odds and ends over at the Didacts site, chasing rabbits down holes, and “INTJ” caught my eye. He has posted several times on introverts, and, I am one, so seeing a site in the sidebar about INTJ’s didn’t surprise me. The site wasn’t bad – think of it as more of a very personal set of insights rather than a general overview – but still a lot of good introspection and self-analysis. One article headline jumped out. “INTJ – I Know What I Know & What I Don’t Know“. A couple excerpts are relevant. First:
…if we know something or don’t know something then we will just tell you.
Thinking back, even when I was more insecurely wrapped in being the smart kid who “knew everything” – I wasn’t sorely tempted to claim knowledge of something I did not know. If anything, I found it difficult to bullshit together a response to “short essay” questions to which I did not know the answer clearly. I was perfectly willing to say “I don’t know.” Yes, in my youth, when I was more wrapped up in “I’m awesome because I’m smart” it hurt to have to admit it, but these days, after years of meeting far too many people who were experts at things I would never have time to study, I don’t care. I’ve even had bystanders laugh at the look of puzzlement on my face when accused of “you can’t admit you don’t know something.”
HOWEVER, the thing is though, we, as INTJs, when interested in something, we research the hell out of that topic –
The key phrase here is actually not “research the hell out of the topic”, but “when interested in something.” If not interested, I may learn something anyway because I’m “interested” – the teacher was badgering me, it is a tedious detail I need to know it for work even if I don’t want to otherwise.
This doesn’t just extend to what I learn, but also to why I rarely tell people I don’t know. If I’m not interested, I rarely talk about it, if I am interested, anyone short of a professional with experience in the field or a dedicated and experienced hobbyist is unlikely to be better informed. Yes, I’ve been known to be wrong on my supposed level of knowledge. When shown wrong, I stand corrected and update “what I know.”
I care more about arriving at the truth than already having it when I started a conversation.
Furthermore, we instantly say, “I know”, because we have already jumped to the conclusion whereby your conversation was built upon. We already got your point, so when people vomits excessive information before getting to the “moral of the story”, we already look like a stubborn idiot whereby we either have a certain irritated expression of exasperation on our face or our hands are motioning for that person to hurry up (personally, I use the phrase “fast forward”, a lot).
I’m very guilty of this kind of thing. Someone starts making a statement. They’re either repeating themselves after I’ve acknowledged them, or I’m damn aware of whatever issue they think they’re bringing to my attention, and say “I know” as a shorthand for “and I know what I’m doing/you already informed me, please shut up and stop wasting my time.”
Worse – “we already got to your point,” I’m extremely guilty of cutting people off when something they say shows their fundamental principles and assumptions are off so I don’t want to hear anything else, or I recognize a talking point/train of logic that inevitably goes somewhere, even if they hadn’t specifically said it before. My success rate isn’t perfect – about one in ten times it turns out that I hadn’t anticipated what was to be said correctly, and yes, I’ve been known to admit that.
I try to work on listening more.
On the other hand, as for when we do not know some things, we will either tell you or just stay quiet – some topics do not pique our interest nor do we feel that we are comfortable enough to have an opinion on it. We sometimes do not feel ‘qualified’ to speak about the topic at hand – yes, we are VERY aware of what we do not know and we acknowledge this. The problem is whether the topic makes us interested enough to commence a research afterwards.