Introvert or Extrovert?

by Anne Good
Understanding these two personalities helps communication and relationships

Want to improve your personal and business relationships? Then lets investigate this communication lark a little further by drawing on more Myers-Briggs information. Communication is about getting your message across, no matter what the situation. Why is it we get on better with some people and less so with others?

George Bernard Shaw once said: “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” When he wrote this, I wonder if he had introverts and extroverts in mind. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, uses “extroversion” and “introversion” to refer to how people prefer to energize. Myers-Briggs believes that everyone has both an extroverted and an introverted side, with one more dominant than the other.

Power: Solar v Battery

Extroverts prefer to direct their energy to, and draw it from, the external world of activity and the spoken word, so I call them “solar powered.” Introverts, meanwhile, prefer to direct their energy to, and draw it from, the internal world of thoughts and to communicate in writing, so they are “battery powered.”

Let’s take an example of an everyday business or social meeting. Extroverts like to contribute verbally and are happy to engage their mouth before their brain is in gear. But introverts will only speak when they have had time to internalize and think through exactly what they want to say — they would never start to speak until they are completely satisfied that they know exactly what they want to say.

If an introvert is asked a question, it can take a while — up to 14 seconds according to a recent psychological study — before they answer the question. They are thinking their answer through and having an internal dialogue, and until they are completely happy with their planned response they will not answer. Extroverts do not like silence, so you will never catch them waiting that long to speak. They will eagerly fill the silence with some comment and then think through what they really want to say on the hoof.

So remember next time you are talking with someone, whatever the purpose: if they are not answering you as quickly as you would like, they are probably introverted and this is their preferred way of living. Or if someone seems to be dominating the conversation, they are probably extroverted.

Once you are aware of their energy source — solar or battery — then you can adapt your communication style accordingly, reap the benefits of knowing who you are, and celebrate the differences in people.



• Energized by the flow of energy outward into the environment
• Attuned to the external world
• Prefer to communicate by talking
• Work out ideas by talking them through
• Learn best through doing or discussing
• Have broad interests
• Sociable and expressive
• Readily take initiative in work and relationships
• Energized by the flow of energy into the inner world of ideas and feelings, by taking things in and dealing with them interiorly
• Drawn to the inner world
• Prefer to communicate in writing
• Work out ideas by reflecting on them
• Learn best by reflection, mental “practice”
• Focus in depth on their interests
• Private and contained
• Take the initiative when the situation or issue is very important to them

Anne Good is a professional Executive, Career and Life Coach and conducts sessions face to face or via Skype.

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