How to live on Planet Introvert
About 25% of the population are introverts. This is a minority, but a significant one, especially since there seems to be a greater concentration of introverts amongst intellectually gifted people.
Myers Briggs defines introversion in terms of the source of energy which a person draws on in order to function in the world. Introverts get their energy from within. Extroverts need external stimulation (a bit like lizards in the sun). Jung says that we all prefer to behave as introverts or extroverts – one or the other. We are born with this preference, and it remains with us throughout our lives. However, this does not mean we cannot behave in other ways.
If you are an introvert, there are some very interesting things going on in your head and your heart. Myers Briggs identifies four functional preferences (sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking), all of which play out in a person’s behaviour. But they do so in a particular order (from most preferred to least preferred). So the first thing introverts can do to bring balance to their personality is to focus on their second preference. It’s the easiest one to work on, and usefully it happens in the outside world – so people will notice the change quickly.
Practice makes perfect, so try out small ways of extravert-like behaving during your day. Here are some examples:
- Take a look at your diary and move meetings so that they occur when you will have most energy
- If you have friends who are introverts, or many of your colleagues are introverts, talk to them about their experiences of this preference.
- At the next meeting you attend, seek out a participant you have not met before and introduce yourself to them before someone introduces you
- The next time a thought occurs to you in a meeting, say it rather than writing it down
- If someone asks a question in a meeting, get the first word in rather than waiting for everyone else to speak