What kind of vert are you? - Tactical Ninja
May. 20th, 2014
10:17 am - What kind of vert are you?
There's a thing that's been bugging me for a while, and I'm not sure if I can articulate it effectively. So because I'm like that, I'm going to give it a go anyway.
It's about introversion and extraversion.
So, it seems that these days, the difference between introversion and extraversion is considered to be this:
Extraverts are energised by being around other people, and their energy is drained by being alone.
Introverts are energised by being alone, and their energy is drained by being around other people.
Now, the vast majority of people I interact with claim to be introverts. Things like finding social situations difficult, enjoying alone time, needing time to think before forming opinions, finding small talk annoying, are all considered to be signs of introversion - and these are things that the majority of people I know will claim to experience. Thus - introverts.
A factor I think also influences the decision that one is an introvert is the dichotomy - introversion is set up in opposition to extraversion and one must be one or the other, apparently. And the fact is, that extraversion is seen as the majority - we assume that most people are extraverts but we're different. Also, extraversion is perceived to be more shallow than introversion - extraverts would rather talk than think, will prattle to anyone who will listen, participate easily in networking (we all know how fake that is, right?), are bad listeners, attention seekers.. the list goes on. Who'd want to think of themselves as that?
And finally, we have this perception that introverts need more understanding. Hence the plethora of 'how to look after your introvert' graphics all over the place. There are a few about how to look after extraverts, but nowhere near as many - and certainly you don't see them passed around places like Tumblr and Facebook with smug little bylines such as "Everyone should read this!"
The subtext of which seems to be: "I am an introvert and you should all make more of an effort to understand and cater to my personality."
Which in itself, isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm all for understanding people and working so that we can all get along. But when *nearly everyone* is claiming to be a certain personality type because our society has set it up as the elite minority, I start to get this perverse desire to call it.
Hence this post, I guess.
So anyway, I went through the list of 23 signs of introversion in that HuffPost article up there. Here are the ones I hit.
1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
6. You're easily distracted.
(note here: Number 7 - Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you - contains an assumption that being alone = downtime. I spend a lot of time alone, but I'm generally gardening, making stuff, fishing, whatever. Am I an introvert or extravert based on this? Dunno)
8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.
(9 doesn't work because NZ bus seats are only 2 people wide - we all sit on the end)
10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long. (if by 'active' they mean 'out and about doing stuff with people').
14. You screen all your calls -- even from friends.
15. You notice details that others don't.
16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.
20. You look at the big picture.
22. You’re a writer. (i totally am - it's part of my job, i do this damn blog every day, and have made forays into fiction)
23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.
So that's 12 of the 23. Does this mean I'm half an introvert? *is confused* - so I went looking for '23 signs you are an extravert', with my parameters being whatever's on the first page of google. Sadly, the dominant majority of extraverts don't get quite the same level of quiz-introspection opportunity as our intro friends. But I did find this one, written by an introvert (of course). It only has 15, but percentages work, right? For science? *cough*
Anyway, here's my hits:
3. You can talk about your achievements without feeling guilty.
4. You can put your personality on display and it leads to great things.
5. You can push yourself.
6. You take the career escalator.
8. You can be productive in any environment.
9. You don't put things off.
10. You can multitask like nobody's business.
11. You can focus.
So that's 8/15, or 53%. Compared with 52% on the introvert one. And weirdly, some of them seem to be in direct opposition to each other. I'm easily distracted (when surrounded by people who are all talking or things trying to get my attention) but I can focus (when I give enough of a shit about what I'm doing to zone out distractions). I mean, it's still hard but I can do it. I hate networking but I'm perfectly capable of climbing the career escalator by talking to the people who count about what's important to me. I enjoy meeting new people, but only if they approach me first - and I engage in behaviour that would be considered extraverted (dance parties, costumes) to make that happen.
So, introvert or extravert? Who knows? Most people seem to peg me as an extravert. My best guess is that it's not a dichotomy at all, as people would have us believe, but a spectrum. Some of us may fall closer to either end, but the vast majority, like me, are somewhere in the middle. I happen to believe that Dr Wheel falls closer to the introvert end of the spectrum than I do, but he still has some extraverted tendencies, and I love him for both. I want to understand both. Being introverted does not make one better, deeper, or more deserving of understanding than being extraverted, especially given that most of us lean both ways depending on situation and our own inner condition at the time.
So I kind of wish that people would remember that reading something and identifying with a significant amount of it can also be known as selection bias, and that in the case of introversion this may well come from the perception that introversion is special and more worthy of other people's effort to understand. Personally, I think it wouldn't hurt to understand a bit about all of our extraverted tendencies as well. So in order to shunt that along a bit, I found this. It's one of the rare 'How To Care For Your Extravert' pieces, and it's quite good.
I suggest reading it - there may be more to identify with in there than the world would have you believe.
Finally, that thing up there about how to care for your introvert? Seems to me that a lot of that is merely courteous behaviour that should be extended to anyone regardless of what label they apply to their personality type. Just a thought.