Introvert or Extrovert

The Director of my leadership group wants to fix us. We aren’t exactly broken as a group just flawed. To that end she has been sending us to extra training courses and among them was some based in the Myers-Briggs approach which subjects one to a series of questions and then based on that four dominant patterns emerge that help explain a broadly based personality. The idea is that if you understand the foundations of another’s dominant influences on personality you might have less conflict and communicate more precisely and communicate in a way that is tailored to maximize success.

Or not. But I am saving money for a retirement that will never happen and my annual review is coming up so like the rest of the herd I ambled along. Twenty years from now if we have a health care system all of the nurses taking care of you will be shuffling along on walkers. The questions consisted of things like,”I like when people are friendly to me” and “I enjoy being invited to parties.”

I ended up being an INTP.

INTP

Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical

I scored directly in the middle on the Extroversion/Introversion spectrum but with some additional exercises and probing from the trainer we decided that while I have a job the requires extroversion and I can hang with the extroverts, I spend a lot of time living in my head and being around large groups of people doesn’t interest me. The one person in my leadership group who really fucking annoys me is an extreme extrovert who cannot shut up. We tangled that day because he made a racist comment and the whole group rolled their eyes when I called him on it. They were annoyed that he said it and annoyed that I was compelled to comment and concerned a discussion would cut into break time. Social revolutions should be formulated in short manageable bursts so nobody misses their break or favorite reality show.

But we seem to live in a culture that favors extroverts over introverts. Job requirements stressed outgoing folks who are people oriented, we always find out that the serial killer who lived next door was an introvert, we cheer for the extroverts on reality shows who think they will win because they are “confident” as if talent and thought have nothing to do with character. Children are assessed by teachers as being worrisome if they aren’t “social” enough.

Our hyper reactive culture rewards the pithy extroverts who bluster as pundits, athletes who have star quality and celebrities who offer nothing but expect adoration for their winning personality. It isn’t enough to be decent, kind, or thoughtful one must now go out and remind everybody that they are decent, kind, or thoughtful. I got nailed last year on my evaluation for not spending enough time highlighting my accomplishments. I didn’t embellish enough. But you know what they are, I said to my boss why do I have to turn them into a t-shirt?

Nothing against extroverts, one of my closest friends is a woman who can walk into a party of strangers and walk out with instant new friends. I admire that quality but I don’t want to emulate it. That is what extroverts don’t get, I am content as I am, a little silence doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind just hanging out with the dogs or one friend. Going to a movie alone doesn’t send me into fits of social anxiety. I often wonder if people feel inadequate because they think they are supposed to be “outgoing and people oriented” and they are failing.

Don’t try to fix the introverts, we’re not unhappy, lonely, or wasting time wishing we hung with the popular crowd. High school is over.

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  1. you could claim I am anti-social and you might have an arguement….

  2. Social revolutions should be formulated in short manageable bursts so nobody misses their break or favorite reality show.

    The missing piece of the puzzle, thanks ucc!

    I have never taken the test, btw….introvert all the way, the best thing about the Net is being able to talk to smart people without having to be in the same room as them!

  3. As another introvert, I think that’s part of why I drew the label “lazy” early on.

    Something else that looks interesting is that you are a “T.” For those who might not be familiar with the Meyers Briggs, that scale measures “thinking” or “feeling” as a preference. Its also the only scale in this inventory that is correlated (strongly at that) with gender. To be a “thinking” female brings its own challenges.

    I’m borderline on the introvert/extrovert scale as well as the thinking/feeling scale. Otherwise I’m clearly an N and P too.

    • kj on August 10, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    thinking, what’s the other two stand for… intuitive and judge, i think.  sounds about right.

    had a really cool retreat leader once, extro all the way.  he said he could tell who the intros were, because we were the ones worried about his energy levels and him giving too much of himself away over the weekend. good discussion about how extros play and intros play and what we do to recharge.  me?  i sleep, hours and hours and hours.  most who meet me think i’m an extrovert… for about the first two hours before i shut down in silence for the duration.  when my family all gets together, i shut down in about two minutes flat, most of them are extros and they can carry on the party for days.  we few intros sit around and look at each other and laugh at all the entertainment.  the extro are happy to have an audience and there are storytelling standoffs… one young grand nephew has the makings of a king, he even has the movements down pat.

  4. to flesh things out. One of them was an “art” project in which we had to make a star. Half way through the instructor changed her mind and said no you’re making a sailboat. It was hilarious to see people freak out and complain. I said well, I was going to make a tacky looking star now I am making a tacky looking sailboat…

    • 3card on August 10, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Seeing the invitation in the linked article to “take the instrument”, my first thought was of a rectal thermometer.

    However, I am a bit curious to see just how far “down” the introvert scale this cynical sailor might fall.  Having time on my hands, and with the strong “feeling” that this would be a total waste of it, might I ask if you found the “instrument” at least mildly interesting and how much time it would waste?

    Might I learn more than new ways to torture the english language?  I have no illusions that it will be “usefull” in any way whatsoever. Mildly amusing…, possibly?

  5. … I’m INFP, strongly I, N and P, weakly F.

    Looking at the Wikipedia entry, there’s all sorts of nonsense for devotees to natter on about in terms of dominent, auxilliary, tertiary and inferior functions.

  6. You too.

  7. DILLIGAFF with distinct fascist tendencies.  Had to become a consultant

  8. …but with the character traits separated into four main categories.  IMHO, ultimately, the test and knowing our colleagues’ and our own personality types didn’t really make that much difference in office interactions.  

    But, oddly, I took blank copies of the 2 page test home & had the family do them.  It was a great insight into my 3 kids and spouse’s personalities & I think that it helped me understand them better and helped me deal a lot better in my interactions with them.  

  9. Of course…there are also really obnoxious introverts, who rise by virtue of their intelligence and appetite for the expeditious…I am “INTJ” (god how we’re all sucked in) and have always tended to idealize introverted qualities because that’s my team…but in fact I’m not sure that the successful pursuit of power (or its abuse) necessarily rest too much on a personality type…

    Sorry if weird comment all jangly and off these days.  Nice essay!

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