Thursday, May 7, 2015

Introversion vs Extroversion

So this is often the most obvious difference between people, you can spot it in strangers across a room or nail it within a few minutes of conversation. There's some debate among psychologists whether this is the most or least important part of person's preferences. Dr. Keirsey said it was the least important, but Susan Cain argues in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won't Stop Talking, that it is the most important trait. So who's right?

I'm going to have it both ways. Because I can.

Dr. Keirsey was right because he was referring to the difference between temperaments and types. The difference between an ESTJ and an ISTJ is much more minor than the difference between an ESTJ and an ENTJ or ESFJ or ESTP.

The STJ part means they are detail-oriented, concrete thinkers who make decisions based on facts more than emotions. The E/I part refers to how they create and expend energy in those ventures. Extroverts gain energy from other people, while introverts recharge their batteries by being alone. So an ESTJ is a commanding organizer and an ISTJ organizes heavily behind the scenes. Both are workhorses.

Compare an ESTJ to an ESTP and you have two very loud people who are both concrete thinkers who make decisions with their head rather than their heart. But the ESTP is a very reckless personality which jumps from task to task without finishing what he/she started. A job left undone is unforgivable to an ESTJ. ESTPs are also prone to exaggeration and showmanship... the original snake-oil salesman. HUGE difference.

ENTJs? Highly abstract in their thinking- they see the big picture much better than an ESTJ, and they are comparatively socially inept. ESFJs? Much more touchy-feely than ESTJs and prefer to get along and have everyone contribute and share rather than to get things done right. They'll make things into a social event rather than a business meeting.

So in that sense, being an introvert or extrovert is the least important difference.

Susan Cain argues your entire life is decided by whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. (By the way, she's not very nice to extroverts in her book; she has a pretty clear bias. Otherwise her book is fascinating.) Her point has merit because E/I is how you present your inner self, and truly, more than half of life is showing up. If you show up and sit in the front row and speak your mind, you're going to get more attention. So an ESTJ and an ISTJ are both likely to show up and be qualified, but it's the ESTJs who are going to volunteer to take charge of the committee. Their ideas will be the first heard and the loudest articulated, and therefore often the most often used.

And that can make all the difference in the world.

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