Shaping your new normal

Extravert vs Introvert

Extraversion and Introversion, exploring the differences

The extravert-introvert dichotomy is all about whether we orientate and draw our energy primarily from the external world or our own internal world. Of course it is not a single cut-off point, we all have some extraverted characteristics and some introverted characteristics. As Jung himself said:

“[The] subjective clouding of judgement is particularly common because in every pronounced type there is a special tendency to compensate the one-sidedness of that type...But everyone possesses both mechanisms, extraversion as well as introversion, and only the relative predominance of one or the other determines the type.”

So we all have a primary preference towards either the external world or the internal world and the extent of this preference will directly affect how we project and interact with people. The following will help show the main differences:

Extravert

  • Draws energy from people and situations
  • Needs engagement or energy depletes
  • Talks first then thinks later
  • Neurons processed via speech
  • Open, animated and talkative
  • Likes action and initiative
  • Values breadth over depth
  • Likes the unexpected

Introvert

  • Draws energy from within
  • Needs own space or energy depletes
  • Thinks first then talks later
  • Neurons processed inside their heads
  • Appears reserved, quiet and thoughtful
  • Prefers space, concentration and quiet
  • Values depth over breadth
  • Prefers predictability

So we can see that Extraverts draw their energy from what’s going on around them, people, situations and indeed need that ‘feed.’ So if you are an Extravert you will typically do-reflect-do and will happily allow your neurons to connect outside your head in full view of everyone ie you process your thoughts and information via the spoken word. This can overwhelm introverts who need processing time. You need to draw energy from the external environment and so your energy levels actually rise as you speak with others, engage with people and the environment as this feeds your energy. Once the noise dies down you will be looking for another ‘feed’ as your energy levels will be depleting quickly the longer you spend on your own.

Introverts on the other hand tend to draw their energy from within and so if you are an Introvert you will find that in ‘crowded’ situations your energy depletes and you will have to go and have some ‘me time’ for your energy to restore. It is like a battery where the power runs down the more you have to ‘extravert’ and you will need to draw that energy from within. Typically introverts reflect-do-reflect and so you will need to think things through before speaking.

The ‘knock-about’ of group banter in an extravert world is difficult for you unless you have a purpose. We see many introverts who are performers but this is because Introverts need a purpose; general chitchat and banter depletes your energy.

Extraverts may see Introverts as

  • Secretive, private and closed off
  • Impersonal, unfriendly
  • Withholding of information
  • Self-absorbed and not giving
  • Slow in response
  • Difficult to read or understand
  • Too deliberate and lacking flexibility

Introverts may see Extraverts as

  • A little pushy and intrusive
  • Overly friendly and talkative
  • Too open too soon
  • Overwhelming
  • Quick and shallow
  • A bit bossy
  • Too much ‘in your face’

Extraversion

Although we all share some extraversion and some introversion, if you are an Extravert your primary orientation will be to the external world of things, and people and situations and these will be from where you draw your energy. When it gets quiet or repetitive then you will tend to need to go off in search of another feed. It is not about being a party animal versus a loner; there are animated and talkative introverts as well as more contained and reserved extraverts. However we can often detect the extravert, in the thick of things, having lots of opinions and comfortable with jumping in with no purpose or introductions. It is when the action is over that Extraverts’ energies will begin to deplete and you will need to go and find some more action. I have seen Extraverted training professionals and motivational speakers ‘feeding’ off the audience, the more the energy on the room the more the speaker is energised and then we see them afterwards, sitting down, shadows of their former selves, mere husks desperate to speak with someone, or engage with a group to inject some energy. One Extravert we knew would often have to make calls all the way home from events to prevent himself literally falling asleep.
Jung described Extraversion this way:

“Extraversion is characterized by interest in the external object, responsiveness, and a ready acceptance of external happenings, a desire to influence and be influenced by events, a need to join in…the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind, and actually find them enjoyable, constant attention to the surrounding world, the cultivation of friends and acquaintances… The psychic life of this type of person is enacted, as it were, outside himself, in the environment.”

We often see more animated Introverts, and there are many in the performing arts, actors, musicians, etc who are Introverts. However they tend to have a purpose for their projection, and so this makes it easier to project and ‘extravert.’ I have seen many Introverted musicians who are so animated on stage but then find it difficult when fans bombard them with questions. So if you are an Extravert it means you probably find it easier to just hang out, to engage with no purpose, to meet with new people and chat openly and find such situations energising. It does not mean you don’t need “you” time (we all do) but that too long on your own and you will want to orientate yourself back to the external world of things happening, people and action and this probably be when you are at both your most comfortable and your most effective.

Introversion

If you are an Introvert your primary orientation will be to your own internal, private world and it is from here that you will draw your energy. This does not mean that you don’t like to socialise or that you are not a people person. It is just that, too much ‘extraverting’ will deplete your energy levels and you will need some “you” time to recharge. You will prefer to chew things over and your neurons will be processed inside your head so that when the answer comes out it is perfectly formed - and often the right one as it has been carefully thought through before being vocalised. The general chitchat of life is not where you are strongest or where you are at your most effective, preferring to think deeply about issues and also preferring to have a real purpose rather than just jumping in and seeing what happens.
Jung (an Introvert) described Introversion this way:

“The introvert is not forthcoming…holds aloof from external happenings, does not join in, has a distinct dislike of society as soon as he finds himself among too many people. The more crowded it is, the greater becomes his resistance. He is not a good mixer. What he does, he does in his own way, barricading himself against influences from outside…has an everlasting fear of making a fool of himself…and surrounds himself with a barbed wire entanglement so dense and impenetrable that finally he himself would rather do anything than sit behind it. His own world is a safe harbour, a 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, where the only changes are made by himself. His best work is done with his own resources, on his own initiative, and in his own way.”

Jung may be being a little playful, and self-deprecating, but we can see the main message is a serious one, that Introverts need their space and time and too much time spent with other people will cause you to withdraw and re-energise in your own world and in your own way. It might sometimes be helpful, when engaging with your Extravert counterpart, especially those who don’t know you well, to consider just explaining how you work best. For example an Extravert will not respond well to silence and you require processing time when asked a question. So learning to just say, “I am thinking it through” or “I will think it through and I will get back to you” will help an Extravert better understand how you work best and ‘get’ you. As Susan Cain points out in her book “Quiet: the power of introverts” we live in a primarily extraverted world and much of the advice to Introverts is around how you can become more extraverted or, worse still, how you can appear more extraverted. This is not really possible or is it desirable. A far better way is to show the value of the difference and just some small hooks for the Extravert “I need space as I’m thinking” will show that you are both different indeed demonstrate the value of an argument or answer that has been carefully processed rather than verbalised.

Engaging with and managing an Introvert, if you are an Extravert

Allow them to reflect, don’t overwhelm them, don’t expect immediate answers as an Introvert will need that processing time
Ask one question, let them answer, allow them to process the information, to think about it quietly before responding
Talk about one thing at a time, don’t bombard or jump around topics as an Introvert prefers single topics and will think deeply
Expect processing time, this is when they are at their best and will come up with well-thought-through answers
Don’t finish their sentences, try to be comfortable with the silence and space they need to process

Engaging with managing and Extravert, if you are an Introvert

Let them talk and think out loud, they need to speak their thoughts out as this is how they process their thoughts
Create space for face-to-face, they prefer conversation and interaction and they are wary of silence
Ask open questions, help steer them, don’t close them down initially let them wander a little
Include a variety of topics, as they will like to jump around and dip in and out of subjects rather than focus on one
Expect immediate reaction, they will not process their thoughts inside their heads but via speech and so they may seem indecisive but this is just them thinking
Keep the conversation moving, their energy will deplete if it becomes static and they are wary and even suspicious of silence and may need to fill the gaps