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Getting to Know Introverts

Getting to Know Introverts

By Donna Dunning

Unseen Personality Type Preferences

You may have been introduced to your four-letter personality type code without understanding that everyone has a favorite or core way of living and working that is supported by a familiar and comfortable secondary approach. Your favorite approach is called your dominant function and your secondary backup is called your auxiliary function.

How your functions work together to help you take in and process your outer world and inner thoughts is called personality type dynamics.

During the last couple of weeks I have been discussing type dynamics and explaining how to identify your dominant and auxiliary personality type functions. One of these two preferences is used internally and remains mostly unseen by people around you. This idea is key to understanding and working with everyone, but especially important when interacting with people who prefer Introversion.

The Unknown Introvert

People who prefer Introversion are often underestimated and misunderstood. Next time you are interacting with someone who prefers Introversion keep in mind that you are most likely seeing their auxiliary function, their secondary or backup approach. Introverts use their secondary approach to deal with others and the world around them and save their most developed and core function for their personal, internal use.

Because you are not privy to the Introvert’s core internal processing, their response may sometimes surprise you. For example, an Introvert may keep information about him or herself mainly private. It may take several interactions before the Introvert feels comfortable sharing personal information. You may know an Introvert for a long time without really knowing them well.

Some Introverts may not enjoy social “chit-chat” and may avoid sharing personal information, especially in casual or work settings. This is especially true when someone prefers both Introversion and Thinking. Thinking types tend to keep work and personal life separate and prefer to be task-oriented, rather than people-oriented, on the job. They will likely not share personal information with you unless they see a good reason to do so.

Introverts who appear open-ended and unstructured, Analyzers (ISTPs and INTPs) and Enhancers (ISFPs and INFPs), have a dominant function of Thinking (Ti) (Analyzers) or Feeling (Fi) (Enhancers). They are guided internally by core values or principles that are normally kept private. You may see these values or principles if you violate them. If you do step over the line, these normally easy going, adaptable types will surprise you by becoming stubborn and inflexible.

Introverts who show the world their results or goal-oriented side, Assimilators (ISTJs and ISFJs) and Visionaries (INTJs and INFJs), are internally focused on taking in, thinking about, combining, and organizing new facts or ideas. Their dominant function is Introverted Sensing (Si) (Assimilators) or Introverted Intuition (Ni) (Visionaries).

Before taking action, Assimilators and Visionaries have usually thought the situation through from beginning to end. If you suggest a change or throw a new fact or idea at them, they may need time to consider this data before continuing their actions. This may look like resistance or inflexibility, but really what they are doing is figuring out if they need to re-jig their well-thought-out plan.

Assimilators and Visionaries may also surprise you with their depth of knowledge if they choose to share the detailed information and planning that lies behind their actions. Normally they don’t share this information with others, as it is quite detailed and not easy for them to explain.

Getting to know a person with introverted preferences can be like reading a book and discovering that the more you read, the more interesting the story becomes.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 10:28 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

25 Responses to “Getting to Know Introverts”

  1. Robert says:

    I can definitely relate to this. I am an INTJ and your last four paragraphs resonate with me.

  2. Laurie says:

    I am an INFJ and that section really describes me.

  3. Erik says:

    Once again, another excellent article. I too as an INTJ particularly resonated with the last paragraph. Thank you.

  4. CT says:

    Being INTP, I think your descriptions on dominant Ti function spot on. And it is also consistent with the ways of ISFP and INFP that I know.

  5. CT says:

    And, of course, again, it is N type that write theory here and S type living and having fun elsewhere. 🙂

  6. Ted Jaramillo says:

    As soon as I´m done reviewing each and every sentence, validating the data and preparing a well thought out reply…. I´ll agree and/or compliment you on your artice! (ISTJ) 😉

  7. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi CT, I agree with you about the reality that type theory is mostly written by Ns. I do try to provide information that accurately describes individual preferences and whole type, but I am sure my own preferences color my way of talking no matter how hard I try.

  8. Mouse says:

    Read it. Got the point. Made sense. Thanks. (INTJ)

  9. Libby says:

    This info rings true for me (ISFJ). Thank you for writing “What’s Your Type of Career?”(2010 ed.). It’s had a tremendous positive impact on my life this year at work and in the other areas of my life.

  10. CT says:

    Hi Donna, I think you have done an excellent job in describing each type using the “language” of respective type.
    I think it is the topic itself, i.e. MBTI + career, that attracts more N than S.

  11. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi CT. Thanks for the positive comment. I agree with your observation. In the last 12 years of providing MBTI certification training, my groups have consistently had more Ns than Ss register and attend. Probably a combination of personality preferences, interests, and occupational choices. One of my goals is to make personality type theory (and language) more practical so everyone sees the usefulness of understanding about individual differences.

  12. Janet Wooten says:

    Wonderfully useful and revelatory to me as a I have just learned that my type is INTJ. This article resonates with me as I recognize myself as someone who is always thinking in the future. So nice to get to know my authentic self!

  13. Sonya says:

    Hi Donna,

    I’ve taken an avid interest in type theory for about two(or more) years now. I find it such an absorbing topic, but feel most comfortable with the idea that I have the ISFJ profile. However, there is often the nagging thought that I could really be an INFJ. I am almost fifty, and have truly found my niche caring for my family and my home for the last twenty years (sounds very ISFJ, doesn’t it?). Any thoughts re. how I can really be sure?

  14. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Sonya, The INFJ and ISFJ approaches both share Extraverted Feeling (Fe), seeking a caring, harmonious atmosphere in which they can work cooperatively and support others who are important to them. What others may not see is your inner world where you are taking in and organizing facts and ideas. You likely are using both your S and N by mid-life, considering and building on a rich storehouse of experiences, facts, ideas, and possibilities. Since either S or N (used internally- Si or Ni) is your dominant function, you might find it helpful to look at what happens during stress when you exaggerate your dominant function and may flip into the grip of your inferior function. Perhaps reading the two posts may help you distinguish which of these (S or N) is core and which one you have learned to use to adapt and thrive.

    Stress response for an INFJ:

    Stress response for an ISFJ:

  15. Sonya says:

    Thanks very much for your reply, Donna. It means a lot to me as I am sure you are very busy. This gives me a lot to think about.

  16. Anne says:

    I think I’ll have to read these sections over a few times to really ‘get’ it. I never did understand how one’s “dominant function” and “auxiliary function” fits into personality type preferences. Maybe I’m too ‘right-brained’ to understand so much logic?! 🙂

  17. Anne says:

    P. S. The last time I undertook the ‘test’ I came up as an extreme INFP. Sometimes, although I’m not very logical, I have my own sense of ‘logic’ and can be quite judgemental of those I know really well, and critical of myself most of all. Is this more to do with values or is it a possible auxiliary function? Or is it more related to being idealistic?

  18. Anne says:

    It’s interesting that I’m married to an INFJ. He came out even for Introvert/Extrovert but somehow the final outcome was related to his dominant function, which determined that he was more of an Introvert. I seem to remember that his dominant functions were NF (although it was many years ago that we both took the ‘test’). I personally would have said that he is more of an introvert and was surprised he came out with an even score for introvert/extrovert.

  19. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Anne, I agree – It does take a while to get the whole idea of dominant, auxiliary functions, and type dynamics. However, the type dynamics are very helpful for understanding yourself and others, so I hope you hang in there to learn about them.

  20. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Anne, Good questions… only you can figure out the answers. It might help to remember that the personality type model does not measure any amount of anything. Rather, the tools and ideas are designed to help you figure out your natural preferences. The four natural preferences are then used as a code to help you see a pattern of what tends to be energizing and how you prefer to take in information, make decisions, and deal with the world around you. Thanks for your comments.

  21. Tina says:

    This is very accurate of me as a nfp. I came out even for E/I in my latest test but a few years ago i was a defiante I. This is due to me using my auxiliary funtion more for communication in the work place – i.e. trying to keep up with all the extroverts, which I thought was lack of confidence for so long.

  22. Liesl says:

    After working with a lot of INTJs (the overwhelming majority of our staff) for more than a decade and supervising them for the last five, I’d say that when you throw new facts at them, the first thing they do is try to avoid taking them in. I’ve come to believe that’s how they can make decisions so quickly and stick with them in the face of changing circumstances. I’m sure you’re at least partly right that what they are doing is figuring out if they need to re-jig their well-thought-out plan, but I’m convinced that their first goal is to come up with a reason to reject that information so they won’t have to revise their plans. As an INTP, this is quite evident. In fact, they often appear to be ISTJs, relying nearly entirely on the past to inform their ideas about the future. To this INTP, they do not appear at all innovative, which is a big disappointment in our work (public policy). I would not call them visionaries unless by that you mean envisioning the likely future if nothing much changes. Not that that skill isn’t useful. It just isn’t going to get us much that’s “new and improved.” At least that’s how it looks to an INTP. I would love to know how to find another INTP to take some of the nitpicking, let’s-REALLY-make-this-better load off of me as the “leader” of this organization!

  23. Donna Dunning says:

    Hi Liesl, The dynamics you describe are fascinating, as INTJs use their preferred functions in totally different realms than you do… INTJs extravert their Thinking and introvert their Intuition, while you do the opposite. Using the same functions in a different way can create frustration for both of the people involved.

  24. Liesl says:

    Yes, Donna. And their NiTe are completely different from my NeTi. The more closely I work with them, the more apparent that is. They are truly different functions/orientations. The internal versus external references make all the difference. Te references far more the common–external–ways of thinking; Ti is much more personal and novel or internal. Likewise, Ne is more open to new ideas from other places and sources and the wholly original, while Ni prefers the familiar, what’s already known or what fits neatly with what’s already known. Both combos are future oriented, but NiTe is more inside the box of what’s likely or expected, while NeTi struggles with the concept of there being a box. If you want to plan for the expected or for a predetermined outcome, no one’s better than an INTJ. The plan will be thorough and well grounded in experience, taking full advantage of the tried and true. They may be laced with new ideas, but it’s “new” ideas that fit some current way of thinking about the expected or desired outcome. But if you’re dissatisfied with the expected or with past ways of doing things or with both, you need an INTP whose Ne is open to novel options and whose Ti can evaluate them independently of standard approaches (i.e., what others think ought to be done). You’ll need an ISTJ to get things done, though, because INTPs are notorious for wandering off once the plan is set. Implementing is a big yawn, though they’ll be back in a heartbeat if a problem that might warrant yet another novel solution arises. Just my sense based on the context I work in.

  25. Lilie says:

    Glorious introvert myself. 😀

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