What Gives YOU Energy? Introverts vs. Extroverts

17 Mar

What gives (or takes away) your energy? Personality type has some important insights into this question. Let’s ask some simple questions first.
1. Do you find that being around a group of people is energizing?
2. Do you need to be part of a team, or even to lead a team?
3. Do you enjoy “running your ideas” by several people, either in a group or one after the other?
4. Do you find it boring to sit by yourself and “reflect” on the past day or week?
5. Do you find that being in a crowd actually gives you energy?
6. Do you enjoy talking and even being the story teller in a group?

If you answered YES to several of these questions, you may well be an Extrovert. Extroverts get their energy from people and situations external to themselves — gatherings, parties, events they attend, anything they become aware of in their surroundings.
Extroverts make up 75% of the U.S. population and are prized for their “lingo” in sales, catchy presentation style at meetings, and their “friendliness.” Extroverts may or may not play all their cards, but what they wish to share is widely known. With an Extrovert, “what you see is what you get” — that is, if they are thinking individuals, that is what you notice about them. On the other hand, if they are more on the feeling spectrum, you will see that also. These folks are usually not deep thinkers, but they have an innate ability to get their ideas out there.
Here’s an interesting scenario I often present to my clients when they come in to debrief their MBTI results. An Introvert is married to an Extrovert. They are invited to a get-together on a Friday evening. The Introvert (soon to be discussed) is hesitant to commit to the gathering but goes along because his/her partner expresses a real desire to take part in the event. Their counselor suggests that they go in separate cars. Why? you ask. Because this is the scenario that evening. (And note that this is a best case outlook for the evening.) Each arrives separately around 7:30 PM. The Extrovert quickly finds a group which s/he joins and begins actively to share with. The time advances to 10:00 pm, and we find the Extrovert at the center of a rather large group sharing one of a number of favorite stories. In another hour the party begins to break up, but the Extrovert finds it hard to “let go.” His last companions make their way to say good-bye to the host, so s/he realizes it is time to return home.
At home s/he encounters the Introvert already in bed. But there’s more to it than that! The Introvert probably drifted over to one individual or a small group of one to three persons and listened to their conversation after having introduced him/herself. The Introvert enjoyed being with this person or small group, but after a while realized how tired s/he was. Thus, s/he probably made a decision to leave the party at about 9 pm and returned directly home to relax and reflect on the day/week. Then s/he may have read or listened to music and prepared for bed.
The Extrovert may not have realized all this (we all think everyone else is just like us!) and probably wanted to talk some more about the news s/he picked up at the get-together. What a surprise to find the partner already asleep!
A little more about the Introvert: Introverts make up only 25% of the U.S. population. They are usually quiet, reflective types whose ideas and emotional depth are often ignored. Group leaders should thus make it a practice to “tease out” those folks who do not regularly jump into a conversation. Leaders must be willing to wait a while for Introverts to respond, however. I’s demonstrate a characteristic pause before answering a question. In the work arena, Introverts would prefer a career where there is only SOME interaction with people. They would have difficulty being a customer service representative, for example, but would love many types of theoretical work, serving in libraries, laboratories, or working out of their homes and only occasionally visiting the office.
One thing you must remember in looking at this aspect (or any aspect) of personality type is that there are many degrees of Extroversion or Introversion, and this determines your preferences for social interaction and career choice.
More to come! Please feel free to email me with your questions. jeaneva@comcast.net

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