Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Introverts and Extroverts, Again

Last week I took up my goal again of posting about personality types (character traits, if you will) based upon the Kiersey Personality Sorter.

Today I'm going to talk about introverts and extroverts. Frequently people think introverts are shy and extroverts are not. Sometimes that's true, but sometimes it isn't.

The way to think about the introvert / extrovert traits is in terms of energy.

An introvert isn't necessarily shy. An introvert is simply energized by solitude, while an extrovert is energized by being around people.

Real life examples.

I have a friend who didn't marry until she was nearly 30. She lived on her own in an apartment, but she had a day job where she worked in a solitary office and almost never dealt with people face to face. She's an extrovert, and it really wore on her. In order to get her energy back up, she needed to be with real, live people.

So she got a roommate.

However, the roommate--an introvert--was an insurance person. She dealt with people all day. By the time she got home at night, all she wanted was to go to her bedroom and be alone.

My friend said she felt lonelier with this roommate than she had when she lived by herself.

My professor who taught the class where we learned about the Kiersey shared this experience. She was a therapist for many years and spent her days interacting with people. She's an introvert. By now you know what she needed when she got home. Quiet. Solitude. Time to lay in the bathtub and contemplate the universe.

Enter her younger sister who wanted to share an apartment. Not just an extrovert, but a flaming extrovert.

Anybody see potential problems?

Professor would come home from work, needing time to rejuvenate. About the time she'd just get her stuff settled, her younger sister would arrive at the apartment after work and blast the radio, sing, and want to chat with Professor.

Guess what Professor wanted to do to younger sister?

Obviously, Professor was a mature, intelligent woman, and she didn't act on her impulse to silence kid sister forever. What she did was talk with her sibling about being quiet for an hour when she first got home, so Professor had some time to fill her batteries again. Then she'd be happy to talk.

What did younger sister do? Not chill in a silent apartment. She hung out with her friends a little longer before coming home. Win/win.

My score balance for the Kiersey for years was 7 extrovert and 3 introvert. As you can see, it's not like people must be all of one or all of the other. As you consider the description of yourself, you should keep that in mind. Someone who is an extrovert with a 9 / 1 score would view things a bit differently than an extrovert with a score of 6 / 4.

Does the energy concept make you look at any of your characters differently?


  1. Great examples! I'm extroverted stay-at-home while my introverted hubby works in an office with lots of chatty people. When he gets home, he needs some veg time before attacking me and the kiddos. It's taken me years to figure out how to balance my happy weekends (i.e. we aren't at home unless friends are there) with his happy weekends (pjs and silence).

  2. I have moments of being an extrovert, but the need to chill and recharge without anyone around is very strong. And I can jam for hours on my guitar by myself and be perfectly happy without contact. Once I'm charged though, I definitely want the company of my wife.
    That's probably the one thing I have in common with my main character, Byron, although he's even more an introvert.

  3. Great things to think about. I'm more of an introvert but who has a job where I have to talk a lot. So I can relate to the people who want quiet when they get home, which I don't really get. Interesting things to think of in relation to our characters.

  4. I'm a definite introvert, but I'm not really a shy person except in large groups. It's something a lot of people misunderstand about introverts. We really do like a lot of alone time, but it doesn't mean we don't like people.

  5. Yeah more introvert at my sea, but that is fine by me. Don't mind people, just like my time alone better.

  6. Informative Donna. I know I am an introvert, but can play the role of an extravert when needed.

  7. Jenna--you're lucky you've recognized the need to find a balance. Once of the things I like about the Kiersey is that it helped me to see that the people I was struggling with weren't (necessarily) being that way just to irritate me. ;)

    Alex, yeah. Byron is definitely an introvert. I loved how he finally got beyond the loneliness of his solitude.

    Natalie--I guess it's time for you to schedule an appointment with your tub, so you can soak in solitude and consider the universe.

    L.G.--exactly Exactly. That's why I loved the energy explanation. As I mentioned in the post, as I've gotten older I need more solitude than I used to.

    Pat--alone time is important. Makes me wonder if there are any extroverts who score only as an E with no introvert tendencies. That might be scary to need to be around people that much.

    Slamdunk--that's the best-kept secret, that introverts are usually just fine interacting with people. Even enjoy being with people. It just wears them out instead of energizing them.

  8. I just took the test based on your recommendation and the results gave me the chills. It totally describes me and even suggested I be a novelist. Um...and I'm definitely an introvert. Cool blog series, Donna.

  9. An explanation similar to this is what convinced me that I AM an introvert. I like to be around people and will yak your arm off, but when it comes for recharging, give me peace and quite and plenty of solitude.

  10. Since I'm a hairdresser, I guess I'm an extrovert but I really need and love my quiet time. Really, really love quiet.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  11. In every test I take I am almost exactly even E/I. This test I was a 6/4 I need time to be both with people and away from people, some days people energize me and some days I need to be alone. Kind of funny how that works.

  12. I've never thought about what my characters were before! Man... funny that I haven't. Great post, Donna. I love this kind of stuff. It's really fascinating!

  13. I agree with Morgan. Great post and examination of introvert and extrovert.

  14. I have no problem with social situations, but they're exhausting. I definitely need alone time to recharge!

    I never thought about it in relation to my characters, though. Hmm...

    Thanks, Donna! :)

  15. I never thought of this, but I'm a bit of an introvert and my characters are all extroverts. I learned something today about myself, although I don;t know what. Maybe some wine will help.

  16. i will now! love this lesson! shades of gray =) (no ref intended!)

  17. I like Meyers-Briggs. I'm an INFP (introvert, intuition, feeling, perception) which basically makes me an Idealist.


  18. I'm definitely an introvert. I did the test and had forgotten I did it last March. In March I was Artisan Composer (ISFP), and now I'm Idealist Councellor (INFJ). It seems it changes depending where you are in your stage of life. Very interesting.

  19. This is why I usually like to hide out in my room after a full day at a conference. I'm an introvert.

    Now I'm seeing all kinds of conflict possibilities for my stories. Thanks, Donna!

  20. I like stories where they make an introvert and extrovert friends...it adds lots of tension and intrigue:)

  21. Interesting post. I'm surrounded by people all day long at my job, and when I get home I want peace and quiet. Does that make me an introvert? I'm not sure. I think maybe I'm introvert because of my job.

  22. I'm an introvert. As a teacher, I'm surrounded by kids all day and have meetings in the morning. When I get home, I need peace and quiet or I get upset.

    Yes, this does make me look at my characters differently.


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