The world of Psychology abounds with popular myths: “The average person uses only 10% of brain capacity,” “opposites attract,” “we are ‘left-brained’ or right-brained,’” “we all have distinct learning styles,” and research after research has debunked them all. But the one that still creates too much noise (or quiet) is the difference between Extraversion and Introversion. Jung, who actually invented the terms, was clear: it is about where we draw our energy from, either from people and situations or from within.
Now, then what happened was the popular myths started that it’s about confidence, or friendliness. But there are plenty of confident Introverts, hey try asking an INTJ to explain the cosmos, or an ISFJ how the internal combustion engine works. Boy they’ll be confident, knowledgeable and will happily wax lyrical.
Ah so I got them wrong they must be Extraverts? No! They are on their subjects, there is a meaning and a purpose and a structure to the conversation, so it plays to their strengths. Spend endless time talking to them about trivia, boring stuff, and letting it meander they will shut down, they will have to because their energy batteries will begin to run down. Ask an INTP a long, convoluted question or question an INFP’s values and boy you will get short shrift, blunt, to the point, and bone-jarringly direct.
So, it is not about confidence, or friendliness, or willingness to engage, it is about energy levels. Too much quiet time with no action happening will run an Extravert’s batteries down. Too much meandering, noise and distractions will have Introverts scuttle back inside, as Jung said, their “carefully tended and walled-in garden, closed to the public and hidden from prying eyes. His own company is the best. He feels at home in his world. Crowds, majority views, public opinion, popular enthusiasm never convince him of anything, but merely make him creep still deeper into his shell.” Written by a true, extremely confident, Introvert, and the one who invented the terminology!