When labels like introvert and extrovert don’t work

Earlier this week, I put an anonymous poll out to my peeps, with this simple question: “For those who know me from offline or online, how much of a people person am I?”

I don’t think of myself as the consummate people person, whatever that means. I confess that my personal visceral reaction when I see a person with a big toothy smile is a tinge of suspicion, that they’re hiding something, have an agenda, or out of touch with reality of life that’s a mix of ups and downs.

So I put out the poll to get myself a reality check, because how I see myself is only a part of what’s real via self-awareness. To not be self-deluded, there’s also being open to what others see. And, there’s also what no one sees or knows — what only God knows.

It was strongly suggested for me to read John Maxwell’s Be a People Person: Effective Leadership Through Effective Relationships. I got the book out, again, to learn more of what I may have missed. Now, back to the issue at hand.

How do you describe what is a “people person” anyways? I think the label would have a wide range of perceptions and definitions, as does the labels introvert and extrovert. Extroverts recharge themselves by being with others, while introverts recharge by being alone.

The Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) popularized the terms extraversion and introversion, describing them as follows [nb: and I crossed off the parts of the descriptions that _don’t_ fit me]:

The first pair of psychological preferences is Extraversion and Introversion. Where do you put your attention and get your energy? Do you like to spend time in the outer world of people and things (Extraversion), or in your inner world of ideas and images (Introversion)?

Extraversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. These words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language.

Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting. Don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you?

Extraversion (E)
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say. …

Introversion (I)
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

As you can see in my poll, 14 people rated me at 6.36. According to one online test I took, my score for extroversion was 7.9. So what could all this mean?

Here’s what might be going on, YMMV (your mileage may vary) ::

  • People see me differently than how I see myself, because I (sometimes) choose unconventional ways of relating.
  • Maybe a “people person” isn’t about being an extrovert, but more about relational skills to better lead and/or connect with other people.
  • My highest intelligence being “interpersonal” could mean I do well connecting with lots of people via networking, but don’t have as much inner drive to make things happen or to make people feel good and motivated. So I’m not the class clown, like Rick Warren.
  • I have described myself as loving the ideas that affect people. My Birkman scored in the blue quadrant, indicating my preference for a lower key style, indirect involvement, people-oriented, and idea-centered. Thus, I’m much better at using words than non-verbal actions.
  • I use blogging (twittering, video chat) as a way for me to think out loud, get feedback, and connect with people, when I can’t be at more than one place offline.
  • I do hate being alone in solitude, drives me nuts.
  • I’m in desperate need of psychological help and re-assessment.

You may also like...

5 Responses

  1. Deef says:

    I wonder if finding out why you ‘hate being alone in solitutde’, might lead to some answers.

    There may be lots of insight that can only be learned through solitude.