July 8, 2012

MBTI functions explained

On Personality Cafe, there are descriptions of the functions in personality typing. I've copied some over here directly. Other's I've rewritten here and there. These are the same functions that I've described in my two posts on the flavors of extraversion and introversion. Sometimes it's helpful to see them all listed together in one place. One of these should describe you best with another describing a more occasional aspect of yourself.

Introverted Sensor: They work on the specific and the detailed. Seek to be thoroughly aware of all facts before coming to decisions. Not open to new understandings, they are comfortable within tradition and the established. They enjoy being in control and well prepared for whatever life may bring.

Extraverted Sensor: They are active and crave new experiences. In touch with the immediate physical reality, they enjoy a fast changing environment. Strongly materialistic, they require strong sensory experience.

Introverted Feeler: Considerate, helpful and often introspective, they strive for a sense of harmony and well-being. With strong inner feelings, they are loyal and caring. They follow deep personal convictions rather than social values, making them appear somewhat original and unconventional.

Extraverted Feeler: They expect cooperation and harmony within a particular institution. They follow well defined rules of conduct and respect the social hierarchy. They are loyal and may fight for a cause, but always within tradition and accepted norms.

Introverted Thinker: Enjoy coming to new understandings, problem-solving and logic. Independent, skeptical and critical. Appear self-absorbed while they use step-by-step logic to discover the principles and connections that underlie the overall picture.

Extraverted Thinker: They organize, dictate and control. Easily come to decisions as they set out logical plans of action, or impart rules and regulations. They may rise to a position of authority that allows them to maintain order and efficiency within a given organization.

Introverted Intuitive: They are stimulated by problems and enjoy an intellectual challenge and coming to new understandings. They possess an abstract and analytical mind that helps them to discover the underlying principles behind a particular situation. Intensely individualistic, they can walk the road less travelled.

Extraverted Intuitive: The most open-minded of the types, they are fascinated by the new. Impulsive, adventurous, and creative, their minds entertain future plans and new ideas. They do not live in the immediate physical reality, but in a world of relationships and possibilities. They abhor routine.

July 6, 2012

The "Flavors" of Introversion

I have been known to look right at a person and never see them. Though my eyes were pointed in the right direction, I just plain wasn't using them. I was looking inside my head instead. I can't even begin to tell you how upsetting this is for people who feel like I'm deliberately ignoring them. And the fact that I'm so absorbed in whatever's going on in my brain means that I don't even realize that I've done anything wrong because I literally didn't see them there. I've had people approach me on it later and all I can say is, "Really? I did that?!" As horrible as this is for the poor folks around me, it's a great example of introverting. I was thoroughly wrapped up in my inner world.

Everyone introverts. Yup, even extraverts are introverting some of the time. A good friend of mine who is extraverted to the point that when I spend time with her I need recovery time afterwards tells me that when she's really maxed out or under a tremendous amount of stress, she retreats to her room for alone time. I know, all you introverts are shaking your heads saying, "It can't be true." Since most extraverts don't seem to "get" me, how in the world could they behave in a way that they obviously don't get? I suspect that though extraverts do introvert at times, they consciously introvert fairly rarely. It's not their standard mode of operation. So it's difficult for them to understand that for an introvert, it really is our regular way of being. 

But not everyone introverts in the same way. Just as there are "flavors" of extraversion (extraverted sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking) there are also "flavors" of introversion. As you've probably already guessed that means introverted sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking. 

***   Perceiving Functions: How do we take in information?   ***

Ni: Introverted Intuition
I'm an Ni, so I feel like I can reasonably describe what this function is all about. I feel like I'm a collector of connections - not just any old connections, but ones that fit with topics that I find to be really important. In other words, whereas an Ne is so into ideas and connections that they're easily distracted from one idea by the next idea or topic that comes along, I tend to exclude possible connections that aren't relevant to my obsessions, but I have find connections in places you never might have thought a connection could be found. The connections pop out at me in "a ha!" moments, clear as day. This "connection finder" is always turned on. This ability helps me to see patterns in where things have been, where they are now and where they could be going. 

Here's some quotes from other folks on Ni's:

"Intuitive introverts tend to be highly creative, both in the sciences and the arts.  They are the most creative of all the personality types and are capable of adding great works to the collective wisdom of humanity." -- Clear Reflection Coaching

"Ni’s constantly wonder and guess in their head - they do this so often that they often don’t even realize that they are doing it.  It more or less becomes a part of them. Ni’s easily get lost in the mind and are thus very introspective, and often pull out ingenious ideas and insights.  They view life more globally than any other type, striving to never let themselves forget about the big picture.  Ni’s constantly shift their perspectives, and view and understand things from different angles and in different ways. Under extreme stress Ni’s become paranoid and overly withdrawn." -- FamousType.com
Si: Introverted Sensing
I'm the mother of an introverted sensing son and feel like I have a pretty good handle on this function as well. Introverted sensors are data people. Most Si's I know like lists of information. My son can spend hours pouring over websites that list when Lego sets were made, how many pieces were in each set, how successful each set was in the market, etc. My son's friend who doesn't like legos at all, instead focuses on Dungeon and Dragon rules. He spends hours pouring over the rule book, soaking up every detail of every rule. Si's tend to be traditionalists, in large part because they like data to remain constant. If something has always been done such and such way in an Si's life, then they want it to stay the same over time so that all of the data points (when you sit and when you stand, for example) to stay exactly the same. I know one Si who is also very tied to his own past. He seems unable to extract events that happen to him today from events that happened 10, 20 or 30 years ago with different people in different places. Si's are commonly found in the military and in traditional churches because both places value tradition, rules and conformity. 

Here's some quotes from other folks on Si's:

"Introverted Sensing often involves storing data and information, then comparing and contrasting the current situation with similar ones." -- cognitiveprocesses.com

"Introverted Sensation gives us the will to accumulate information--names, dates, numbers, statistics, references, guidelines, and so forth--related to the things that matter to us. ... Such facts are highly selective. ... They're part of our self-experience. They define the specific nature of our passions and interests. They become our basis for taking in new data." -- Lenore Tomson

***   Judging Functions: How do we make decisions?   ***

Ti: Introverted Thinking

Introverted thinkers like to be precise. In my experience, they'll use a million dollar word, not because they want to show off or act wiser than thou, but because they believe that word conveys their meaning more exactly than the more common terminology. They search for inconsistencies in an argument. 

Here's some quotes from other folks regarding introverted thinkers:

"The Introverted thinking function allows a person to categorize and analyze data. It is the ability to identify inconsistencies, know how things work and problem-solve." -- personality.info

"As a right-brain function, Introverted Thinking is not conceptual and linear [contra Extraverted Thinking]. It's body-based and wholistic. It operates by way of visual, tactile, or spatial cues, inclining us to reason experientially rather than analytically." -- Lenore Thomson

Fi: Introverted Feeling

While an introverted thinker looks for inconsistencies in ideas, an introverted feeler is more likely to look for inconsistencies in behavior. If someone is being fake or insincere, introverted feelers will be quick to pick up on that. Introverted feelers are very sensitive to their own feelings and to the feelings of those in their close circle of friends. 

Here are a few quotes from other's regarding Fi's:

"The Introverted Feeling function allows a person to know what they value. It is the ability to see through others and know what they are really like as if they had an internal radar. When it identifies a person with similar values there is a desire to connect." -- personality.info

"The introvert of feeling-type finds support and guidance by shaping his own  feeling-attitudes in accordance with an inner ideal. Here the activities of  feeling are hidden, and from the outside there is, as a rule, little to tell us that we are dealing with a person of  feeling-type." -- Dr. J. H. van der Hoop

"Jung continues to discuss the introverted feeling type (IF) by stating that this type is often silent, inaccessible, hard to understand, hides behind a childish or banal mask, and is inclined to melancholy. In fact, as many as 65-85% of people diagnosed with major depressive episode are introverted feelers. Introverted Feelers value peace and harmony above almost anything else; strong emotions are struck down “with murderous coldness” or nearly paralyze the IF. In women, especially, introverted feeling tends to come off as cold because the strong feeling component is introjected rather than sent outward by projection onto others." -- The Third Eve

(This is a repost from my old Multiply.com blog and is back dated accordingly.) 

July 3, 2012

The "Flavors" of Extraversion

I've often tried to explain what it means to be extraverted. I've generally failed miserably. But I'm gonna give it another shot because I've learned some stuff. And it makes sense to me. And I think it could be helpful to others who still equate extraversion with being a "people person."

Not all extraverts are people persons. Stick that in your brain and let it marinate awhile. In common parlance, that's how we've used the word, but in personality chit chat, that's not what it means... at least not for all extraverts. You can be a very extraverted person and yet appear somewhat cold or distant to people. And you can be a strong introvert and yet make people feel warm and loved when you're around. It really all comes down to your functions. And in this post, I just want to focus on the extraverted functions: Ne, Se, Te and Fe. I'm still learning some of these myself. Te is my secondary function and Se is how I get when I've been pushed to the brink and then some. So I sorta have an experiential sense of what they mean. But when it comes to Ne and Fe, I'll be relying a lot on what others have said about those functions. And if anything I say doesn't seem quite right, or it does seem right on, or you have examples, please pipe up. You're probably more of an expert on your first function, and possibly your second function, than you may even realize. Speak from your experience and we'll all end up learning more.  :-)

In personality nomenclature, the first letter - N, S, T or F - refers to the four preferences - iNtuition, Sensing, Thinking and Feeling. The second letter (usually written in lower case) refers to the direction (or attitude) of preference - is it inward (introverted) or outward (extraverted) focused? So Ne is another way of saying "extraverted intuition," Se is extraverted sensing, etc. I'm going to try to describe each of the flavors of extraversion. Hopefully you'll see yourself in one of these (even if you're an introvert). Either your first or your second function is extraverted. We all have to deal with the outside world at some point (whether it's at work, while shopping, school, dealing with the tv repairman,....) so we all have a preferred method of dealing with the world.

***   Perceiving Functions - How do we take in information?   ***

Ne: Extraverted Intuition
My impression of an extraverted intuitive is that they love having a bunch of ideas thrown at them (such as in a brainstorming session). They soak up ideas, thoughts, beliefs and meanings and find themes among them, weaving concepts together to develop strategies or larger concepts. Even when they see basic, ordinary, run of the mill stuff that anyone else might pass over, they can look at that person or object or event and see all sorts of possibilities in it. 

Here's some quotes I found in a conversation comparing Ne's to Ni's. 

"Ne focuses on parallel possbilities that may not link one after the other but exist side by side and may all be true. On top of this they may have other possibilities that branch off the initial possibilities identified." -- thor odinson

"Ne  primarily  diverges from one idea, concept or even word to multiple meanings." -- Tenacity

"Ne is interested in open-ended exploration of theories and possibilities." -- Magic Mirror

And I thought this quote was helpful (especially when you jump down to Se and compare the forest quote describing them): "Extraverted iNtuiting  thinks of the fractal patterns, the wide range of possibilities in the forest, how this forest is part of the ecosystem and is affected by polllution from the city..." -- InterStrength

Se: Extraverted Sensing
Extraverted sensors want to take in the world (and perhaps even take on the world). They want to touch, taste, smell, see, hear, roll in, ride on, climb over, crawl under, and/or slide through the world around them. They want to suck up physical experiences like sponges. They will actively seek input until there are no more inputs to receive or until, in their boredom, they find something else to move on to. 

Here's some quotes from other folks on being Se:

"Extraverted sensing experiences the world in all its vibrancy. It sifts through sensory data and identifies what is most relevant and most critical in the current situation. It seizes opportunities as they present themselves. It troubleshoots and seeks a tactical advantage. It wants immediate gratification." -- Andrea Wenger

"Extraverted Sensing notices the rich detail in the whole forest - the trees, their color and texture, their sounds, their smells, the pattern of light and dark..." -- InterStrength

***   Judging Functions - How do we make decisions?   ***

Te: Extraverted Thinking
Being a "thinker" doesn't mean that other people don't think, it's just the term that Jung came up with to describe those who make decisions based on logic. Thinkers are not usually considered people persons (even when they're extraverts). 

Extraverted thinkers are the people you want to call when you want something done and you want it done sooner rather than later. An extraverted thinker is energized when they've made a list and managed to do everything on it. Accomplishment is golden. In fact, not doing something that you know is going to have to be done sooner or later seems to actually be painful for extraverted thinkers. They just want it finished. They want it checked off their list NOW. They tend to have very clean homes (since a speck of dirt is a check list item waiting to be crossed off).

Here are some quotes from other folks on what it means to be an extraverted thinker:

Te's "strive to rationally structure, order, and control the outside world.  They are systematic, methodical, deliberate, and strategic in their approach. They proceed carefully and slowly, looking ahead to avoid potential obstacles and to prepare for contingencies. Extraverted Thinking (Te) involves Thinking-based judgments that incorporate facts, data, or other objective considerations. Through the impersonal and objectifying lens of Te, the world becomes a giant machine, a system of interrelated parts that predictably functions according to the laws of cause and effect." -- Personality Junkie
"What Te does is seek organization and efficiency in the outer world." -- Grey

"In social situations Te displays the qualities of leadership and strength because they're able to make decisions about external things in a manner that doesn't pander them to subjectivity. -- Diphenhydramine

Fe: Extraverted Feeling
An extraverted feeler is going to invite you to stuff. Their goal in life is for everybody to get along. (Unless you upset them somehow. Then extraverted feelers are really good at hurting your feelings.) If an extraverted feeler gets even a sense that you need something that they think they can provide (whether they actually can or not) they'll get all excited about helping and start behaving as if it's a done deal when they haven't even begun step one of planning. They seem to feel first and work out the details later. 

Here are some quotes from others on Fe's:

"An extroverted feeler is always talking about how they FEEL about things.  They care how people feel!  This type never forgets to have the birthday cards, bake the cake for a party, plan the potlucks — you know the type!  They “emote” — all the time, and everyone knows how they feel!" -- Valentine Bonnaire

"If we dive deeper, we find that we are excellent at reading situations, expressions, and people’s actions.  Feelers can pick up on tone and change it.  Naturally, we encourage people to use their strengths, do what they enjoy and follow their dreams.  It is true that the extroverted feeler feels a feeling of euphoria when seeing their partner or another person happy.  They do in fact, recharge and revitalize their minds by creating harmony." -- Young Life Perception

(This is a repost from my old blog on Multiply.com and is backdated accordingly.) 

July 2, 2012

I'm not an Introvert nor an Extravert. I'm both.

I've had many people tell me that they're neither introverted nor extraverted. "I fall right in the middle," they exclaim, rather proud that they can't be put in a box. I've always tried to point out that "Yeah, of course you're a bit of both. But you're probably a bit more one than the other." Then follows the usual discussion of what does it even mean to be one or the other and finally a repeat of their denial that either description fits them very well.

I've continued to study the difference between introversion and extraversion (as well as the differences in the other preferences that make up the Meyers-Briggs type descriptions) and I maintain that people are a bit of both, but still fall more one way or the other. However, I've also come to understand what the two terms mean so much more clearly (It's not all about whether you like hanging out with people or not.) and probably better yet, I've started figuring out what the functions are all about. And understanding the functions, in my opinion, makes all the difference in the world. 

You've probably heard that introverts prefer time alone and extraverts prefer time with people. And definitely that's sometimes true. But it's not always true. And a lot really depends on the circumstances. (Get me on a topic I'm interested in and I could probably talk your ear off. Talk about anything else and you probably won't hear a peep out of me.) 

Stop thinking about introversion and extraversion in terms of people. It's not all about whether you like crowds or just being with a couple of friends or meeting complete strangers or avoiding people entirely. Wipe all that from your mind and let's start fresh. 

Think of introversion and extraversion as arrows. The first one points inside a person. The other one points outside a person. ... They're not pointing at people! Stop that. Didn't I tell you to stop thinking in terms of people? We'll add people back in later. But right now I want them out of your head entirely. *Waits, drumming her fingers on her desk.* Are they out? OK, let's continue. 

When a person is being introverted (notice, I didn't say an introverted person. So I'm not just talking to introverts here. I'm talking to everyone, because everyone is introverted part of the time.) that's a time when they're looking inside themselves at stuff. They could be looking at feelings, or ideas, or data, or memories, or well... anything else that's inside-ish. When a person is being extraverted, on the other hand, that's when they're looking outside themselves. (That doesn't mean they're being selfless. That's something else entirely. You can be completely selfish while looking outward.) While extraverting, a person is interacting with things that are other. That could be people, but it could also be nature, or textures, or distances, or a whole host of other things. 

But like I said, everyone tends to behave more one way than another. Some people do the pointing in thing more, but there are times when they're pointing out so much you might never think of them as being an introvert. And there are extraverts who usually interact with everything around them, but there are times when they're a bit more reflective or thoughtful or pensive and therefore look very much like introverts.

In terms of functions, your primary function will match up with whether you're extraverted or introverted. Your secondary function will be the opposite. There's a lot more to functions, but I'm going to save that for another post. The point I want to make here is "Yeah, you are both introverted and extraverted. Good on ya. But whether you want to cop to it or not, you operate more in one mode than the other. You just do. And the rest of your personality type (the S/N and T/F stuff) is affected by your primary mode of being either extraverted or introverted. 

Stay tuned for the "flavors" of extraversion.

(This is a repost from my old blog on Multiply.com. It is backdated to its original posting date.)