Understanding Personality Type: Do you know the REAL Difference between Extraversion and Introversion?

Jené Kapela Develop your leadership ability, Focus on you, Personality Type

Do you work with someone who is so unlike you that you can’t understand where they’re coming from? Or have you ever experienced frustration in a relationship because your friend or partner does things very differently from how you want to do things? Whether you realize it or not, most conflicts in the workplace and misunderstandings in relationships are the result of differences in personality type. This blog post is the first in a series that will explore the different aspects of personality type and discuss how to apply personality type to work more effectively with others.

Why does personality type matter?

Personality type affects everything we do because it impacts how we think, how we act, and how we interact with others. There are four aspects, or dichotomies, of personality type that result in 16 distinct personality styles. This blog post is going to focus specifically on the most well-known and popular aspects of personality type – extraversion and introversion.

What is Myers-Briggs, and how does it relate to whether I’m an extravert or introvert?

Myers-Briggs refers to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, also known as the MBTI. This is a personality inventory based on the theory of psychological types as described by Carl Jung. In short, Jung believed that differences in people are not random but instead are based on clear patterns of behavior. He developed a theory of personality type to describe these patterns.

Without going into all the details, what’s important to understand is that the terms extraversion and introversion mean something very different to personality type than how they’re commonly used in every-day language. Rather than meaning whether people are outgoing or shy, what these terms really have to do with is how people direct their energy and where they put their attention. Extraverts orient their energy to the outer world of people and things, while introverts orient their energy to the inner world of ideas and images.

What are the different characteristics associated with extraversion and introversion?

Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)

People who prefer extraversion are energized by being around other people and being involved in many activities. They like moving quickly to act on their ideas. They prefer to work through problems by talking them out and hearing what other people have to say. People who prefer introversion are energized by focusing on thoughts and ideas. They like reflecting deeply before making a decision. They generally prefer doing things alone or with one or two other people they know well and are comfortable being around.
People who prefer extraversion generally:

  • Feel comfortable with and like working in groups
  • Have a large network of friends from different circles of life
  • Can be seen as outgoing
  • Like to jump quickly into action
People who prefer introversion generally:

  • Feel comfortable being alone and like working independently
  • Have fewer friends but prefer more intimate relationships
  • Can be seen as reserved
  • Like to reflect before acting
People who prefer extraversion “recharge their brain” by being around other people. This doesn’t mean they can’t be alone, but they actually lose energy when they spend too much time away from others. People who prefer introversion “recharge their brain” by being alone. This doesn’t mean they don’t like spending time with other people, but they can feel drained when they don’t have enough time by themselves.

I’m not sure which I am – can I associate with both ways of being?

Just like we naturally prefer writing with one hand over the other, we naturally prefer either extraversion or introversion. This doesn’t mean you can’t access the characteristics of both extraversion and introversion – over time and with practice, we can develop the ability to act in both ways, In fact, many of us are socialized to behave in a way that is not our preferred style, but there is great value in understanding our natural preferences. If you’re unsure or would like to learn more about your personality type, you can contact me to take the MBTI assessment.

Why do I have to label myself as one or the other?

Personality type is not about labeling yourself. It is about understanding your natural preference for how you take in information and make decisions. While we all have the ability to act in both ways, one way comes more naturally to us. These are both healthy variations in personality style, and one is not better than the other. They are just two different ways of being.

Sometimes people are uncomfortable with the idea of personality type because they feel that by identifying with one type it means they aren’t “good” at the other types. That’s not what this is about. This is about knowing where you come from so you can better understand yourself and how you interact with others.

Now that I know this, how do I use this information?

My next blog post will discuss how to use your new knowledge of extraversion and introversion to communicate more effectively and efficiently with others, both at work and in your personal relationships. Make sure you’ve subscribed to get notifications of my new blog posts at www.jenekapelaleadership.com.

Jene Kapela, Ed.D.

You can contact Jene at jene@jenekapela.com.

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