Let’s talk about the I vs the E in our longtime Myers-Briggs personality scale. There’s a problem. Most of us are not 100% E (extravert) or 100% I (introvert). I’ll give myself as an example, I am a BIG E, I play music on stage, I love to hear myself talk, I like to perform, and… Then I get quiet. I need my downtime. I’d rather be alone. I need to recharge by being alone.
What’s the Big Deal About Extraverts?
We are the type-a drivers of the universe. We are out there pushing our ideas and agendas. We’re leading teams, leading bands, and leading creative or technical projects. The extrovert is the person you associate with a leader. Let’s check in with what the Myers-Briggs folks say.
and then the
That seems pretty easy. But what about people like myself who flip between I and E easily? Is there a blended version? Is there an introvert who works to be extroverted for certain roles?
It appears one of the ways you’re supposed to be able to tell the difference (as in, what am I?) is to notice where you get your energy. If you restore yourself by being with people, as in a party or concert, you’re probably an extrovert. If you recharge by spending time alone, you’re probably an introvert.
I Must Be an Ambivert
I can be as extroverted as hell. I love leading, love performing, love playing at word jam love party smash. (Yes, I just made that up. See? An example.) And then, at times I can flip completely to isolation and quiet time. The quiet retreats are not always (but can be) associated with depression. I simply wear myself out by putting out so much energy in many of my daily routines. So I burn hot, and then I drop into a social coma. Leave me alone and let me get my spunk back.
But, what if the whole I vs E concept is flawed. What if we fluctuate more around energy and enthusiasm than on some trait that defines us? Yes, you can identify and see introverted people: they are quiet, they don’t offer their ideas or energy without being asked, and they prefer to be alone rather than working as part of a team. They LOVE remote work and will be struggling over the next few months as we return to the office (post-covid).
I have extroverted tendencies. I am definitely not an introvert in 95% of my days over the last several years. But I do go “I” every now and then. Often, for me, that introversion is more of an isolation move to hide my own mental health issues. When I’m not hyper-e people often wonder if I’m okay. What I am learning about my E and my own self-care is to be cool with whatever mode I’m in. If I’m introverted one day, I just listen to what’s happening. I try to check in with the part of me that wants to be quiet and alone. It’s a valuable part of my personality. It’s probably where a lot of the writing and ideas come from. And then I’m wired-for-sound the next day, bouncing off the satellites and blowing people up with my excitable boy routine. I’m just this way. I vacillate.
Mostly I’m an E. I’m happy, I’m gregarious, and I’m driven to perform and produce. This is my happy place. But, I’ve found that my E-mode also needs some downtime to recharge. Writing is a pretty introverted activity. Playing music by myself, songwriting, or learning a new song, are all ways of being alone. But those are not necessarily indicators of me being an introvert.
Do You Know What Your Myers-Briggs Type Is?
They break down the personality types into four categories each having a binary answer. Like introvert vs. extrovert. I won’t go into all of them here, but you can find the full program and even take a free test to see where you fall in the system. It has been very helpful for me, over the years, to know that I am an ENFP.
The biggest thing I know about my personality type, according to Myers-Briggs is that I love the big ideas. I am an evangelist. I overflow with enthusiasm. And I know this often rubs oppositely-oriented people the wrong way.
Yep, that does tell my story. And also one of my blind spots. While I lead with optimism and hope, I run into and interact with people who see things very differently. And, one of the places I really have to concentrate in my career is “attention to detail.” I love the big ideas, the big picture. But, I’ve learned over the years, how to manage and maintain projects that require thousands of moving parts. I know how to manage the minutia of big projects. It’s not my strength, but I can do it. I prefer to lead by big ideas and inspiration and have others do the details. But, in my career, that is not how it works.
How to Use Your Type Information
You can learn from your Myers-Briggs type. You can adjust to the differing types of others and learn how best to interact with them. If you are an extrovert trying to date an introvert you’re going to have to slow way down and pay attention to their subtle, sometimes unspoken, requests. Then you’re going to need to give them the time to make up their minds when you ask them for their input, like “where do you want to eat?”
Let’s talk about energy and motivation, that’s what drives me. Yes, I admit to being a big E extrovert, but I also have my introverted moments. What do you know about your type and how you can be self-aware enough to navigate work and love in positive ways? What’s your type? What type do you prefer to date? Can an introvert really date an extrovert, or will they constantly be run over?
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