Ming the Mechanic:
Introvert or Extrovert

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Introvert or Extrovert2003-03-16 23:09
by Flemming Funch

Liz Lawley has a long and excellent post about the difference between introverts and extroverts. It also references an article in The Atlantic about introverts. Particularly Liz has some excellent insights.
"Another thing that emerged from our conversation was her use of the term self-evident. I mentioned that the person who had first pointed me toward the introvert article had an e-mail address of 'self@evident…', which she loved. But I said that the whole concept of something being 'self-evident' seems to me to very specific to introverts. Where an introvert sees something as obvious based on observed actions, an extrovert is more likely to want to explore it, to triangulate views from multiple sources before forming an opinion. To be valid, for me, an opinion must include input from other sources—I don’t believe any of us can be 'objective' or see a full version of what’s around us, and without asking what others see, I don’t believe I’m getting a full picture.

That's where the conversation got particularly interesting—I told her that I thought the extrovert’s desire to discuss things endlessly was the antithesis to the belief that something is 'self-evident'. She said she’d always assumed that the talk was an announcement of fully formed ideas, not a thought-forming process—that the people talking “already had their ideas, and felt a need to subject us to them.” And I replied that for me, that talk is really the only thought-forming process; the thoughts aren’t solid until they’re expressed, discussed, poked, prodded, etc. Internally, thoughts are amorphous and unformed. When 'exposed to the light' through expression, you can see if they’re solid."
So, an introvert thinks things through and speaks when the thought is complete. An extrovert speaks in order to clarify his thoughts. That gives plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings and conflict between introverts and extroverts. An introvert might find it insulting that the extrovert immediately questions and takes apart what he says. And an extrovert might find it puzzling that the introvert appears unwilling to talk things through.

Personally I possess traits of both extrovert and introvert. When doing a myers-briggs type personality test, I usually show as being half of each. I can only stand social interaction for so much time before I need to withdraw and recharge my batteries. I hate calling people on the phone. But I often can't clarify my thoughts without taking things apart, throwing some loose ideas out there, exploring the extremes, and talking it over with others. I enjoy spirited dialogue, and can discuss certain things for hours and hours.

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17 Mar 2003 @ 06:53 by catana : Generalization
The supposed divide between introverts who see things as self-evident and extroverts who seek other opinions is a typically false dichotomy. Those who see things as self-evident through careful observation *tend* to be introverts, but it is a quality of mind not necessarily limited to introverts, and is actually comparatively rare. The self-aware person who is capable of seeing things as self-evident also checks sources other than his own observational powers for verification. I'm a case hardened introvert, but I work hard to confirm the correctness of what I see as self-evident, and like you, I benefit from spirited discussion with others to hone my ideas. I consider a challenge to my ideas part of the process; certainly not an insult.

There is a tendency to assume that being an introvert means shunning the company of others; in most cases that isn't true. Introversion exists on a sliding scale, just like any other quality. While I find it interesting that there has been so much about it on the net lately, some of it is personal and anectdotal, and merely serves to contribute to stereotypical ideas about introversion.  

17 Mar 2003 @ 12:52 by ming : Generalizations
Well, all generalizations are wrong. And, when it comes to personality types, most people have all of them at the same time, but they might be more or less strong, more or less conscious, maybe applying to different areas, etc. From studying NLP I find it very useful to be able to identify the ways that people organize reality for themselves. But, yes, all of them are sliding scales, and like any kind of generalizations, should be taken with a grain of salt. People are what they are.  

17 Mar 2003 @ 12:53 by sharie : another indicator
I once read a book on parenting that said introverts feel energized from being alone, while extroverts feel energized when they're in the company of others.


Other stories in
2014-09-27 00:04: You must be an expert by now
2014-09-26 15:15: Brevity
2011-11-06 21:33: Counting what counts
2011-01-23 13:46: Authenticity
2010-08-23 01:31: Semantic Pauses
2010-06-27 02:28: Doubt
2009-10-25 17:04: Opinions, perceptions and intuition
2009-10-15 08:32: Abstraction
2008-06-29 16:47: Complicated and Complex
2008-02-20 16:39: The universe as a virtual reality

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