Where are you on the introvert–extravert spectrum?
A big part of personal leadership is knowing and understanding yourself. For all that you are, but also for the things that you aren't.
When I work with clients, one of the biggest eye openers is always around the introvert - extravert spectrum. Many have an idea of where they are, but fall short in the implementation of this knowledge.
But some of them are completely surprised that they turn out to be much more extraverted than they thought they were.
They always described themselves as "such an introvert", when they actually meant to say they are:
- Shy until they get to know someone a bit better;
- Self conscious and awkward in big groups;
- Not a fan of meeting new people
And while these characteristics are often seen in introverts, they are certainly not the same thing.
So what does being an introvert or extravert mean?
The concept of being introverted or extraverted was introduced by psychiatrist Carl Jung. His framework was based on his research with word associations, combined with his years and years of experience working as a psychiatrist.
His definition was the following. On the one hand of the spectrum, extraverts decide on their behavior based on what happened in the outside world. On the other hand of the spectrum, introverts decide on their behavior based on how their inner world experiences what happened in the outside world.
In other words:
- Extraverts respond to what is.
- Introverts respond to what they think or believe is.
A second framework was developed by researchers who used statistical analysis to discover the different components of personality type.
At least four different research groups came up with 5 components. Together, they form a model often referred to as the Big Five. One of the factors that consistently arose from the different datasets was named extraversion. The definition has similarities to Jung's definition, but the emphasis is on mental energy.
- Extraverts are energized by their interaction with other people.
- Whereas introverts are energized by reflecting on their own thoughts and feelings.
The definition that is most widely used nowadays in personality psychology is a combination of Jung's and the Big Five researchers' definition.
Whether you are an introvert or an extravert determines how you respond to situations and what energizes you on a mental level. Both frameworks agree on the fact that people are generally not purely extraverted or purely introverted, but somewhere on a spectrum between the two.
Back to you now: why is knowing whether you are introverted or extraverted important for our success and happiness?
First of all, thinking about the introversion-extraversion spectrum as having to do with what energizes you, can explain things about you. Like why you make up the most elaborate excuses to get out of Friday afternoon drinks each week. Or why you are so desperate to actually leave the house on the weekend while your partner is perfectly happy vegging out on the couch for two day.
Both are fine! As long as you embrace these as part of what makes you you.
Second, as an ambitious woman, energy management is of key importance for you to function optimally.
We hear all this talk about how self care will basically save your life, but what does self care mean to you? For me, the insight that I am much more extraverted than I thought, completely changed this.
As an extravert, soaking in the tub while reading a novel, although comfortable, is not the right activity to recharge on a mental level.
Extraverts need to interact with others, do stimulating activities. For some extraverts, this means going to two-day festival where all their senses are stimulated for 48 hours straight.
For me (and many of my clients) however, it is about interaction in smaller groups, or one on one. Or doing activities that stimulate the senses for a while, like going to see a band for a couple of hours.
As an introvert, you might enjoy those activities as much as your extraverted friends.
But unless you build in some recuperation time afterwards, they will leave you completely drained.
It's important to emphasize that if your preference is more towards the introverted side of the spectrum, that doesn't mean you don't LIKE activities with other people. However, mental recharging happens when you get the opportunity to be alone with your ideas and feelings, so be sure to build that in afterwards!
Are you curious to find out how you can leverage your personality for more success and happiness?
Then let's have a virtual tea to discuss what getting to know your personality, your strengths and your values can mean for you!