Let’s admit it, we like Buzzfeed Quizzes. For whatever reason, we need to know which Friends character we are based on our favorite wild mushroom. We’re human and we love it.
If you have never been sucked into the black hole of quizzes that is Buzzfeed, you’re probably not reading this because you’ve probably never used the internet. If you somehow made it on the internet without taking a Buzzfeed quiz, I encourage you to so you can find out which Victorian ghost is haunting your house.
We love finding out things about ourselves. Personality quizzes are a hit because we want to learn more about who we are.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Myers-Briggs?
The Myers-Briggs tests personality based on four scales
- Introvert – Extrovert: Where you focus attention/where energy comes from
- Sensing – Intuition: How you take in information
- Thinking – Feeling: How you make decisions
- Judging – Perceiving: How you deal with the world
You’ve probably heard of introverts and extroverts and odds are, you are thinking about them all wrong. Lucky for you, I did research on introverts and extroverts in college. But instead of a really cool slide show presentation with great transition effects, you have to read the abridged blog version.
If you’re like the kids on Twitter I hear discussing introverts and extroverts, you think personality types are divided up as such:
- Has cats
- Reads instead of being productive
- Unable to speak in public without barfing
- Constantly in motion, like a shark
- Always with at least five people
Newsflash: Extrovert does not mean outgoing and introvert does not mean quiet.
There are three main things that separate introverts and extroverts:
What energizes you? Friends? Family? Reading? Taking a solo walk? A mixture of these things?
Extroverts are more energized by social gatherings whereas introverts are more energized by being alone. This does not mean extroverts dislike being alone or that introverts dislike social gatherings. This means extroverts and introverts will retreat to what energizes them when they are done doing what tires them out.
I would like to note that introverts are not necessarily quiet at social gatherings or that extroverts are loud, what separates the two is whether they are energized or tired afterwards.
Do you think things over before you act? Are you cautious? Are you impulsive? Do you jump right into things?
Extroverts tend to act spontaneously and reflect later whereas introverts reflect before they act. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches and just about everyone does both to some degree.
Do you speak in concrete terms or do you use abstract language? In conversation, do you dive deep in one or two topics or bounce from subject to subject?
Extroverts will span more topics in a conversation than introverts because introverts tend to talk in-depth on each topic. Whilst chatting, introverts will use more straightforward, factual language as descriptors while extroverts will use abstract language.
Notice how none of these reasons were about extroverts being outgoing? While there are outgoing extroverts there are plenty of extroverts who are not. And there are a good chunk of introverts who have you fooled.
Let me tell you about my mother.
For awhile, it did not occur to me that my mother had a personality type because my mom was my mom, not some person with a personality. My mother was a children’s pastor, a public speaker, talkative, and friendly to everyone. If I had known what an extrovert was, I would have labeled her as such. People who know my mother would think the same.
Turns out, my mother is an introvert. A truly shocking revelation.
A couple of years ago my mother told me she was a “socially-bold introvert.” While she enjoys chatting for hours, public speaking, and handled the social aspect of working at a church, those things wore her out. My mother is outgoing but she gains energy from being alone.
Don’t get caught up in what people have told you about personality types. The general public tends to be wrong about most things. Extroverts do not all act the same and neither do introverts (hence the three other letters attached to each Myers-Briggs personality type).
One aspect of a single personality quiz doesn’t define you, but it can help explain you. If you are an extrovert, now you know why certain activities make you more tired than others. I learned I am an extrovert. Though I’m often quieter than others, I gain energy from being with others. And now I know that. Boom educated.
Here is what I want you to take away:
- The correct definition of introvert and extrovert so you can stop wrongly identifying people and using the terms incorrectly on Twitter (the real reason I educate people is to better my Twitter experience).
- Identifiers so you can understand who you are and what you need energy-wise as an introvert/extrovert. Play to your strengths when you need to and understand your weaknesses so you can be better prepared for situations life throws at you.
- The truth! Don’t let other people label you without your consent. While friends and family know you well, they may mislabel you. I did with my own mother and I’m still pretty embarrassed by it. Fortunately, I never imposed this label on my mother.
- No excuses. A personality label is not an excuse or a crutch. Being an introvert does not excuse you from speaking nor does being an extrovert excuse you from needing some quiet time. Don’t let a personality test define the decisions you make or become an excuse for the ones you have made. This part of your personality does not define you, it just helps explain you.
Go forth and conquer with your new knowledge.