Question of the Month: Introvert or Extravert?

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Yes, another blog hop, this one sponsored by Michael D’Agostino from A Life Examined, whose blog I read regularly, and you should, too. You can sign up over at his place, grab the badge (see above), and join in the fun.

This month’s question:

Are you an introvert or an extravert?

A number of years ago, I took a whole battery of tests, including the real official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (not just one of those online thingies), and learned that my personality type was INFP, the “I” standing for “introvert.” This came as a shock to me; I was a trainer and an especially chatty one, often going off in multiple directions with my answers, and every time I took one of those online tests, I came out as an ENFP. So, figuring that the rest of the tests I took would yield similar BS answers, I tucked the booklet with all my test results into my bookcase and promptly forgot about it.

A few years after my stroke, I took another online test, and was surprised to discover that my personality type came out as INFP. I figured that the stroke had somehow changed me from an extravert to an introvert. Anyway, Mary and I were talking about it, and she pointed out that the test of whether you’re an introvert or extravert doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with whether you’re quiet and reserved or happy and gregarious when people are around. It’s whether you’re re-energized by being around people or by being alone.

I thought about it, and I realized that, when I was leading a training class, while I was loud and friendly, I had to get away from the trainees on a regular basis. Exercises were a great time: they could be working on their computers, and I could be working on mine in the front of the room. Our classrooms were equipped with Robotel units, allowing me to “drop in” on people doing exercises without actually having to get up and walk around the room. I found I was irritable if, at break time, I had a student who wanted to ask me detailed questions or involve me in conversation. I just wanted to leave the room and barricade myself where the students couldn’t find me. At the end of the day, I could hardly wait for the car trip home, which gave me almost an hour in the car by myself if I was at home; if I was traveling, I knew that, after a short ride to the hotel, I had a room with a bathroom, a TV, and all my stuff, and I could sit in my underwear watching the news on TV. I’ll be damned… I was an introvert.

I recently found the booklet I had eschewed when I was going through my bookcase, and I sat down and read it. Turns out they had me pretty well pegged, and I was just too stubborn to accept it. I could have saved myself a lot of aggravation and stress if I had just followed their recommendations, which were to find work as a researcher or a writer…

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

21 thoughts on “Question of the Month: Introvert or Extravert?”

  1. I’m an INFJ, and it’s right on the money. I am a shy introvert, so my “inny” nature is obvious, but my stepdaughter, who comes across as outgoing and flamboyant, is also an inny…she runs an artisan market and has learned to give herself down time afterwards, as she gets very wiped out. I think too often people equate introversion with shyness, and they are two different things.

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    1. Shyness, or antisocial tendencies, really have nothing to do with it. You’re not shy because you’re introverted; you’re shy because you’re shy. It’s like comparing apples to rivets.

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  2. John, now that’s interesting what your wife had to say on introverts & extroverts. I’m definitely an introvert, even though I”m quite out-going. All this time I considered myself an extrovert because of this, so who knew I’m really an introvert. Case solved!

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    1. That’s like what I went through. When I took the tests I talked about (it was part of a career-planning extension class) and the person who administered them said I was introverted, I couldn’t believe it. I believed “if I’m introverted, then I’m shy and antisocial, but I’m not, therefore, I’m not an introvert.” It took a while to understand that they really have nothing to do with each other. If you’re shy and/or antisocial, it’s just as likely that you’re an extravert as an introvert. Culture prefers extraversion (or rather, what they call extraversion), so everyone tries to be extraverted, even if they aren’t.

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    1. I don’t think anyone is totally introverted or extraverted, and depending on the situation it might change. Myers-Briggs reports on general tendencies (introverted/extraverted, intuitive/sensing, etc.), but then people take them as absolutes as a way to label people. As you say, it’s a matter of degree. I have to check my results again, but as I recall they showed each dimension as a continuum between the two extremes.

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  3. I’ve always wanted to take a Myers-Briggs test. The closest I’ve come is doing a knock-off test which placed me in one of the four Hogwarts houses. I got very even on all the houses, but I think Ravenclaw won out.

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    1. There are a lot of knockoff MBTI’s out on the Internet, and that’s just what they are, knockoffs. The most accurate is going to be the actual test, and you can probably only get that from a professional.

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  4. I’m an INFJ and feel like it describes me fairly well, though I prefer the Enneagram as far as personality tests go. On that I’m a type 4 with a 5 wing–The Individualist/The Bohemian. I recommend looking into that one. It’s almost spooky how accurate it is.

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    1. I’ve heard good and bad about the Enneagram, but I think that has more to do with how you use the results than about the instrument or the methodology. I’ve never actually read up on it, although I’m sure I got a book about it as a Kindle freebie. Now to find it…

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    1. Right; it isn’t black-and-white, more of a continuum between one and the other, and both endpoints are asymptotes, i.e. you approach one or the other but never quite get there. And how introverted or extraverted you are can also depend on how well-rested you are, your physical health, and your mood. Everyone needs to be left alone sometimes…

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  5. I’m very outgoing and friendly on the outside. Everyone would think I was an extrovert. But, inside, I’m a little uncomfortable with too many people around. When I go on business trips, there are receptions. I generally stay for a little while, then sneak out for some alone time. Too much “people time” wears me out. I’m really good with a friend or two at a time, but when there’s a lot of people, it gets old fast. When I was on a ladies’ retreat for church back in September, I would take my iPad and go over by myself and play a game just to recharge for a bit.

    I can’t remember what I was on the Myers-Briggs, but the first two letters were IN.

    I really think we should think of ourselves and others as individuals, though, and not try to lump ourselves in a category. We each have our own quirks, and that’s what makes each one of us unique. We are all special snowflakes. 🙂

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    1. I think it’s a matter of degree rather than an either/or situation. Saying I’m an INFP doesn’t mean I’m totally introverted, but generally tend to be more introverted. Extraversion was a matter of survival in my family; I had to act that way because the rest of the family was extraverted and if I didn’t they wondered what was wrong with me…

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  6. I am an ENFJ and have spent a lot of time with the Myers Briggs in earlier years. Now I use what I know about personality types when writing characters in my fiction novels. Here is further info on Introverts and Extroverts….Introverts listen in order to talk, extroverts talk in order to think. It also has to do with how you get your energy. I love being in the middle of people. I have a daughter in law who does best with one or two people at the most at a time and becomes quite stressed with groups. I am especially thankful for the J because I can make a quick decision…”I’ll take the blue one.” P’s go home and think about it.

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    1. I’m an INFP, and I have no trouble making decisions in many cases, and by “many cases” I mean “sitting in front of the drive-in window.” On the other hand, I put off the decision to leave a company I was with for almost twenty years until they asked me to leave.

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