I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test a few times, so when I had to take it at work recently, I was not surprised by my results. Especially considering that of the four scales, my strongest preference was Introversion. No surprise at all.
I used to always feel somewhat insecure about being an introvert, like I was the only one and I needed to force myself to be outgoing and put myself out there.
However, this was the first time I actually learned about the different personality types and what they all mean. (Because when you take a test on something, you should just look at the results and not understand what they mean, right? Useful.) In addition to everyone on our team taking the test, we met for two hours (with a woman from HR who is certified in such things) to discuss what these types meant and how different types can work together.
And being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not also outgoing. But where do you get your energy? Introverts get it from internal resources and experiences, versus extroverts, who get their energy from interactions with others and external experiences.
Because while I will get up on stage and take off my clothing in front of strangers, or enter a competition to arm wrestle 11 other women in front of a crowd of 400, and really do enjoy meeting new people, when I’m out and being social, I almost always hit my limit at some point and want to go home.
Or sometimes when I’m spending time with a group (like … a big family vacation, or the holidays), I need a break to escape and just … be alone. To sit where it’s quiet and just zone out. I hit my limit and need to recharge alone.
One really great example our moderator gave is commuting by car. After a long day at work (presumably in an office with other people), does the thought of driving home alone in a car energize you or drain you? I find that when I’m driving home from any group activity, my energy level goes way up when I’m alone in the car on the way home. Whereas our moderator, an extrovert, said that drains her.
Additionally, something else that really stood out to me, is that one thing I struggle with professionally (and sometimes in my personal life) is making decisions or coming up with ideas on the spot. I need time to process, think things over, second guess myself over and over, and then in a few hours or a few days, I’ll have my decision, or I’ll have some really great ideas. I need to reflect, then act. But in the moment? I struggle. I always felt this is because I’m not smart or creative enough, but really, I just need some time to process.
I guess I’m what you might call a social introvert. I like spending time with others and have no problem showing up in a room full of people I don’t know (like at group workouts, dance classes or ladies arm wrestling), and sometimes, I can be outgoing. But while I enjoy those things, they also drain me.
Most importantly, I no longer feel like being an introvert is a bad thing that I should try to fix. I just need to learn how to harness my natural inclinations, learn tricks for the things that don’t come naturally (like talking to people in a room full of strangers, or not shooting down my own ideas), and know when I need to recharge.
Are you an extrovert or introvert? What qualities of either do you see in yourself?