A few years back, I delved into personality typing as one of several tools to diagnose how and why my life and primary relationships had gotten kind of sideways.
My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey temperament is INFP. It might seem odd that someone with “social” in her job title is an introvert, but it’s not all that uncommon. I’ve learned over the last three or four years that many people are like me–introverts in physical space and extroverts online.
INFPs in particular tend to be gregarious…in writing.
There’s always a bit of “good news/bad news” when you learn about your personality or temperament.
The good news is getting affirmation that you are, indeed, hardwired a little differently than other people. The bad news is, if you are dominant in a minority trait in your culture (and American introverts most definitely are) then you have some cultural barriers to overcome.
In my 20s, I didn’t feel like I would ever be successful at all in my work life. Mostly, this was because my temperament is basically batting zero for hitting majority traits in a corporate environment: extraversion, sensing, thinking and judging.
I didn’t really start thriving professionally until I started working in more creative workplaces (which skew toward intuitive, feeling and perceiving traits) or smaller family-owned companies that typically put more emphasis on creative problem-solving, remaining flexible and relationships.
But even in these kinds of work environments, being an introvert requires some adjustments.
I can “fake extroversion” for things like presentations and leading training sessions. In fact, I find the latter in particular a lot of fun, in moderation. But if I don’t plan in some “down time” to recharge afterwards, I end up losing a lot of productivity. That kind of activity sucks up a lot of my energy at once.
I’ve learned to manage the challenges of introversion pretty well in the workplace; where I still struggle most is in my personal life. Coworkers and bosses have shown far more understanding of my trait than some of my extrovert friends.
The biggest issue personally is that extrovert friends don’t seem to understand what introversion is and isn’t.
- Introversion is a lifelong, neutral trait with strengths and weaknesses
- (And guess what? Your extroversion has weaknesses, too.)
- Introversion isn’t social anxiety or shyness. Some introverts are shy or have social anxiety, but many don’t.
- Introversion isn’t something you “outgrow” or “get over.”
- Introversion doesn’t mean you don’t like people. In fact, feeling-dominant introverts are very other-focused people. Socialization in person just drains your energy, while solitude recharges you.
- You aren’t “helping” your introvert friends “overcome their problem” by constantly pressuring them to socialize more. You’re probably just exhausting them.
- Introverts who also suffer from depression do need socialization to avoid getting too isolated, but one-on-one is best for this. If you invite your depressed introvert friend to a party to cheer them up, they will most likely hide in a corner (and feel even more alone than before.)
- If you ever need someone to just be there with you in a difficult situation, call your best introvert friend.
- Introverts are often really funny; you just have to pay attention because the humor is often subtle and sly.
- Be aware that when an introvert spends time with you socially, they are spending part of a limited “budget” of people-handling energy on you. It means they really value your company.
I’m all about the sharing in the comments.