Last time, I wrote about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as an amazing personality assessment that gets the ball rolling on your own self-awareness.
This time, I’d like to dive into the first of the four dichotomies of the MBTI by starting with the Energy Source category. This one is arguably the best known because most people are familiar with the opposite ends of the spectrum, extraverts and introverts. A lot of people think of this as simply quiet versus talkative, yet it is so much more than that.
This category is really about energy flow. Extraverts get their energy from things that are outside of themselves, such as people, things, and activities. Introverts get their energy from being more inwardly focused on their thoughts, ideas, and contemplations.
My boss and I co-facilitate a 9-day leadership class. I’m an E and he is an I. I’m such an E, that I had the nickname Motor Mouth as a child and had a lucrative business of getting paid to be quiet! 25 cents for every 10 minutes I didn’t say anything. Not bad for a 5 year old back in the day.
Anyway, so he and I are in front of a class all day, and we manage just fine. However at the end of the day, he goes home and sits outside, contemplating the scenery and doesn’t want to deal with any more pesky humans. I, on the other hand, get home just pumped up and ready for action! We both do the gig, he just is drained at the end of the day while I have energy to spare. It’s about our source of energy.
Let me give you a visual at how this might play out at work, starting with the introverts.
Picture a hermit living at the top of a hill with a village below. Once a week, the villagers pack a crate with supplies for the hermit. They take it up the hill and leave it outside the hermits abode. After they leave, the hermit pulls the crate inside and carefully pulls out the items, analyzing the contents. Now, picture a meeting with a quiet person sitting in the back of the room. The villagers, AKA other meeting attendees, are slinging supplies around at a fast and furious pace. The hermit gathers all that “stuff” into his crate, to be taken out and analyzed at a later time. See the parallelism?
Introverts are territorial; they’re happy that the new smaller cube size doesn’t allow for a guest chair. They like to have fewer relationships, but the ones they have tend to be deeper. They disclose personal information very cautiously. My boss was three years in to a four-year program before I ever knew he was taking night classes! I mean, seriously, I talked to him every day for three years, and he never shared that info. Introverts are the ones who think of the perfect comeback to a snarky comment – about 20 minutes later.
The whammy that society puts on introverts is asking for that immediate response. “Hey, Joe, you haven’t said anything all meeting. What do YOU think we should do?” Introverts can and will respond, but if you want an answer they are going to stick with, they need that space to unpack the crate and reflect upon the data. Introverts need to ASK for that space. “Well, right now I think we should do XXX, but I’ll get back to you with my definitive answer in the morning.”
Now let’s talk about the other side of the coin, extraverts. The visual here is the person who walks into your office on Monday morning and just … goes. “Hey, how was your weekend? Mine was great! Got my kids all packed up and off to another great year of college! Did you see the Olympics and the Men’s Basketball?!? Whew, that was a close one! And the weather yesterday…wow…Michigan has 10 perfect days a year and that was one of them! About that project…you know…the one with that thing? Yeah, well, the contractor is having a hard time procuring the needed tooling, so I think it’s going to shift to the right…”
It’s as if someone cut off the top of their head and they are just dumping their brain out on the floor in your office.
Extraverts are social beings. They want that extensive network of people to interact with and so have many, many relationships. They practically ooze energy with their gregarious personality and their expressiveness. We had some suicide prevention training at work recently, and all bosses had to talk to their people and give them the “you know you can come talk to me about anything, right?” speech. When my boss said that, I burst out laughing. My response? “Don’t worry! I tell you when I have a hangnail, so I’m not going to hold out on you!” We extraverts freely disclose things.
There are two whammies that society puts on extraverts. The first is stopping the process. “Whoa there! Wait a second! I haven’t got time right now. Can you bottom line it for me?” True extraverts can’t. You are hearing a stream of consciousness from them. They haven’t got to that final thought, expressed verbally, yet. If you truly want to make them tear their hair out, try this: “Better yet, can you put that in an email?” Talking to think and thinking to write are two vastly different brain processes! Best to hitch up your pants and let that stuff spew out on your office floor and move to the next paragraph.
The second whammy is holding them to everything they say. As this verbal diatribe is occurring, you may hear things repeated, contradicted, and seemingly ramble along. You have to let it happen and then you have to ask them. At the end, ask “so what’s actionable in all that?” The answer may be nothing, but let them look at the pile on the floor and pick out the one or two things.
I pulled some interesting articles on the pros and cons of introverts and extraverts for a deeper dive. Very coincidently, my favorite productivity podcast aired an episode this week on extraverts and introverts, so I threw that link in here for good measure!
Introvert Strikes Back? The Newfound Cool of Being Introverted
I hope I’ve given you some things to think (or talk) about as you reflect on your personal and professional relationships.
Signing off with this: 60% of Americans are Extroverts, which leads me to the rallying cry…Introverts Unite! Separately! Alone at Home!
In my last post, I talked about the importance of EQ or Emotional Intelligence, so this week I wanted to start a short series about the pillars of EQ. The place to start is Self Awareness, since research suggests that the better you know yourself, the better you can relate to others. This is not a new concept; thousands of years ago the oracle at Delphi was consulted for important decisions and the phrase “know thyself” was inscribed in the forecourt of the temple. Most people will tell you that they are very self aware and know themselves well. Trouble is, we don’t know what we don’t know. Not to mention, scientific research about humans is always fascinating. With that in mind, one of the basic ways to know thyself is through personality assessments. I wish all those little assessments on Facebook were accurate, but, alas, knowing what animal you were in a former life or who your perfect party partner is does not inform us terribly well. While there are many different research-based personality assessments available, none of them have the clout, the magnitude, the sheer awesomeness of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. Of course, I may be slightly biased as I’ve been using it since I took my first management class in college in … a while ago now.
The MBTI was popularized by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers to make the work of Carl Jung more accessible to the layperson. The basics of Jung’s theory is that people are hard-wired in certain preferences and can be categorized into one of several psychological types by these preferences. When combined, this yields your four-letter psychological type.
Over the next few posts, I’ll cover each of the four categories individually, but for now I’ll give you the basics by building a double-decker MBTI burger.
Jung said that the human brain has two primary functions, taking in data and making decisions on that data. Furthermore, and this is the kicker, Jung said that our brain can only do one of these AT A TIME! So Carl Jung is to blame for starting all the research that indicates that people don’t actually multi-task. We can switch back and forth quickly, but we cannot actually take in data and process it at the same time. These two functions constitute the two meat patties of our MBTI burger.
Jung called the process of taking in data the perceiving function, so that is our first patty. The second patty is making decisions based on the data and Jung refers to this as the judging function.
The bun is comprised of energy flow preferences on top and lifestyle preferences on the bottom. No, it’s not THAT kind of lifestyle preference! Jung lived in the early 1900s, well before we had a phrase like “lifestyle preference” that is common in the LGBT community!
So there you have it, the MBTI double decker burger. If you are curious about a quick assessment of your type, the website 16personalities.com offers a free assessment. If you’d like the official version with a complete report and a coaching session with me around your results, please use the form on the Work With Me page to contact me.
You can think of me as your personal Oracle at Delphi, as we work together to increase your self awareness!
As a nod to Dr. Jung, signing off with this: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but it has to really want to change.
As I am typing this, I’m sitting in a tent, listening to the rain beat down and trying to avoid the occasional drips that are sneaking past the rain fly covering our tent.
I’m here with my husband’s family, on the annual Forest Family Camping Weekend. It’s a family tradition spanning almost 20 years now. Twenty years ago, there were 10 adults and 5 small children. Now there are 10 adults and 9 nearly-grown children. Times certainly change! How could the cute little heathens that used to draw pictures on the pavement with chalk have grown into these tech-savvy millennials?
Now the “adults” go for walks, while the “young adults” go chase Pokemon. Whatever. At least they are being active out in nature! Even if they walk into the occasional tree…sigh…
So as I sit with the family for hours, I realize that this type of weekend is the perfect opportunity to practice all sorts of emotional intelligence, or EQ. IQ is a measure of intelligence, so the powers-that-be decided EQ should be a measure of emotional intelligence. I know, I know, the acronym is all wrong, but to the behavior researchers that coined the phrase, this is high-brow humor, so I’m going to give it to them.
I truly believe that any large gathering of family provides a “target-rich environment”, to quote Maverick in Top Gun. You put this many adults together with a wide variety of personalities, throw in tight quarters when everyone tries to sit under an awning to stay out of the rain, and emotions start to come to the surface.
Why is that interesting? Because this is a very accomplished family. We have 7 engineers, one Registered Nurse, one business manager, and a county sheriff. And that’s just the fully grown adults. For the “kids”, all but one are enrolled in four-year degree programs at state universities and the one is a 4.0 junior in high school. This family has the intelligence genetically coded and knows how to kick some academic butt, so it so interesting to watch the EQ play out with a group of high IQ people.
EQ is formally defined as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.
The very definition indicates that EQ is important in interpersonal relationships, yet how many of us KNOW someone who’s smart but has the people skills of a hungry alligator?
How many of us can own up to BEING that alligator?
Healthy relationships are a vital component of health. There is strong evidence that healthy relationships correlate strongly with people’s health and well-being. Conversely the health risks from being alone or isolated in one’s life are comparable in magnitude to the risks associated with cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity (Goerm, 1987; House, 1998). The stakes may be high in getting interpersonal relationships right at work, but they ratchet even higher when the people you have to deal with are your family.
Clearly it is far easier to leave a company with people you can’t get along with than it is to quit your family. We’ll see how the weekend plays out, but that part about “handle interpersonal relationships judiciously” is proving to be very entertaining so far.
Signing off with this: I heard Einstein got along well with his parents … relatively speaking