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Mistyping: Is your natural preference Introversion or Extraversion?

Mistyping: Is your natural preference Introversion or Extraversion?

By Donna Dunning

Having worked with personality type for about 25 years, I have come to recognize how difficult it can be to sort out who you really are from all the personal, societal, and situational pressures to act and react in certain ways.

Several of my clients and workshop participants have struggled to separate what is natural for them from what they have learned to do. Here are some points that might make it easier to figure out your natural preference.

We all extravert and introvert

The question, really, is not – Are you an extravert or an introvert? Although people do talk like this as shorthand for describing their preference, the reality is that we all spend some of our time extraverting (interacting in the world around us) and introverting (turning inward to reflect on matters).

Rather, to understand your personality type preferences, the questions you need to ask yourself are:

What do I generally extravert? (What do I show the world?)

What do I generally introvert? (What do I keep private?)

Which one of these processes acts as my guide and is most comfortable and energizing for me?

For more information on how you use your preferences (type dynamics), my posts on Dominant functions and Auxiliary functions describe how the mental processes work together.

Watch out for the stereotypes

In personality type models, identifying your preference for extraversion or introversion is a starting point for figuring out your natural approach and understanding type dynamics. It is healthy and valuable to prefer either extraversion or introversion. One is not better.

Personality type uses positive language and does not describe or explain problem behaviors of any kind. When people use words such as shy or socially awkward to describe introversion as a personality type preference, this is inaccurate. In a similar way, when people describe extraverts as shallow or as poor listeners, this too is inaccurate. Yes, there are shy people and poor listeners out there, but we can’t identify them through personality type instruments.

People who are highly articulate, good listeners, socially adept, or careful, may prefer either introversion or extraversion. These categories do not limit or define who they are.

Tune out the “Should be…”

Societal pressures tend to push people toward being outwardly oriented. Although anyone can present himself or herself well in the world, this tends to require more effort for someone who prefers spending time in their inner world contemplating and reflecting.

People who prefer introversion instead of extraversion tend to show their second favorite cognitive process to the world and can be misunderstood and underestimated. For more on this, see my post on Getting to Know Introverts.

If you are comfortable talking to people, articulate, and socially adept, don’t dismiss the possibility that you may be energized by, and prefer, spending more of your time in the inner world of reflection. Many people I know who prefer introversion are very polished in their interpersonal interactions.

If you are quiet, seek time alone, and are thoughtful and careful, don’t automatically dismiss the possibility that you may naturally prefer extraversion. I have seen many people who prefer extraversion and are learning these approaches and responses. I have also seen people who prefer extraversion, and leading hectic lives, score as introverted on personality type inventories as a reflection of their need to have some down time.

To avoid being swayed by stereotypes or situational adaptations, I recommend taking time to carefully assess which preference is more natural for you.

For more information on why you might complete an inaccurate self-assessment, see my Why Validate your Type post.

You may find it helpful to read more about Introversion and Extraversion on these posts:

What’s Your Preference: Extraversion or Introversion

Working with Your E/I Preferences

Connecting Personality Type to Communication: E/I Differences

The photograph above was taken in Victoria, BC, Canada. Is this little guy the reflective type? Or is he energized by interactions with his environment? The answer is likely a little of both but only he knows for sure.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 at 9:39 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.

4 Responses to “Mistyping: Is your natural preference Introversion or Extraversion?”

  1. Gayle Weinraub says:

    Very well said!!

  2. Michelle says:

    Thanks, Kenny. Well, being introvert or exarvtert isn’t a choice, it’s just our nature, so I couldn’t recommend that someone become one or the other.Introverts may come across as loners why is that a bad thing? :)Some of the sexiest, most romantic characters are loners. James Dean being a classic example. But an introvert need not be a loner, he can engage with people and have great interactions. It will just be on his own terms, and consistent with his introverted personality.

  3. […] found the blog posts for the other dichotomies: Mistyping: Is your natural preference Introversion or Extraversion? | Dunning Personality Type Exper… Mistyping: Is your natural preference Thinking or Feeling? | Dunning Personality Type Experts […]

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