November 23, 2013

Personality Type -- the Language We Use to Interact with the World

I've just started reading a book by Lenore Thomson called Personality Type: An Owner's Manual. She does an excellent job of explaining what personality types are. The following is from page 23 of 1998 hardback edition of the book.

"...our type does not define who we 'really are' any more than using a particular language defines the nature of the soul. It simply characterizes the way we've learned to participate in life -- to understand and be understood by the world around us.

"Nature equips us in most spheres with more potential than we can actually develop in a lifetime. We are born with a broad range of adaptive possibilities. For example, every infant -- from China to Mexico to New Guinea --  babbles in exactly the same way, using every sound that occurs in every language spoken on earth. It's only as we begin to imitate the sounds we hear around us that certain linguistic combinations become reinforced and others are set aside. If we attempt to learn another language later in life, we can usually recover some of that sacrificed potential. But we may find it difficult to lose the accent derived from our native language.

"So it is with the typological functions. Although we are born with the capacity for many different combinations, we adapt to our environment by developing only one or two -- usually the ones that come easiest to us, modified by opportunity and social expectation. The process is very much like becoming fluent in a language. When we've developed a particular was of interacting with the world, we tend to use other, less-developed functions with something like a behavioral accent."

November 17, 2013

What Is an Extravert?

First of all, before you correct me and tell me that it's spelled extrOvert, let me just say that it was Carl Jung who came up with the term and he spelled it extrAvert.

So, what is an extravert? Many people seem to think that an extravert is a person who is energized by being around other people - and that's totally true for one fourth of the types of extraverts in the world. But the other three fourths are energized by things that may or may not have anything to do with people.

I've met several people who are pretty clearly extraverts, but when we talk about what they are, they call themselves ambiverts or even introverts simply because they don't fit the popular (albiet incomplete) definition of extraverts as people who are energized by lots and lots of other people.

Introverts don't tend to like all being lumped into one category of shy or socially inept because, despite the fact that some introverts are that way, most are not. Likewise, extraverts shouldn't all be lumped into a people-loving group when some extraverts love accomplishment or excitement or possibilities even more.

So here's an extravert chart to help you better understand the extraverts in your life. And if you're an introvert but one of these descriptions seems to capture your personality a bit, that's because every introvert has an extraverted side (and every extravert has an introverted side). Your extraverted side isn't as strong as your introverted side, but given that extraverting means dealing with the outside world, and all of us have to deal with the outside world if we want to live, then most introverts have a fairly well developed extraverted side. This isn't quite as true of extraverts who aren't forced to live in their inner world in the same way introverts are forced to live in the outer world. But extraverts do have an introverted side that is usually subordinate to (that means it works for the betterment of) their extraverted side. So if you're an extravert and you want a better sense of what your introverted side is, check out my previous post on the various types of introverts.

November 15, 2013

What Is an Introvert?

Introvert memes seem to be pretty popular these days. For whatever reason (perhaps the empowering nature of the internet?), introverts are getting their message out there that they're OK. That, "just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean I'm broken."

And I'm down with that. Really, I am. What bugs me... wait, let me restate that, what drives me absolutely batty, is when one of those memes makes a statement that such and such is true of introverts when it's not. It's true of some introverts, specifically introverted thinkers or introverted sensors or what have you. But it's not true of all introverts, and in fact, if you treat me the way that meme says you should treat me because I'm an introvert, I'll punch you in the nose.

So I've made my own introverts meme. (OK, OK. So I've made one before. But I've made a new one. That's my point.) Because lumping all introverts into one box is what bugs me, my meme focuses on how not all introverts are the same. We come in four "flavors." What makes us all the same is that we all live mostly in our inner world. Once we're in there, though, we tend to focus on different things depending on what flavor of introversion suits us.

There are four kinds of introverts. And not only that, but every extravert has an introverted side. So if you're an extravert and you're reading this thinking, "that sounds just like me!" That doesn't mean that you're an introvert. It just means you're identifying your introverted side. 

If you ever talk with typology geeks, you'll see them using terms like Si, Fi, Ti, and Ni. That's just shorthand for Introverted Feeler or Introverted Thinker, etc. 

So how can you care for your introvert? Start by figuring out what kind of introvert it is that you're caring for. Then be sensitive to the preferences and peeves of that person's particular flavor of introversion.