Many leaders have been asked to take the MBTI. As noted on the website, the “purpose of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality inventory is to make the theory of psychological types described by C. G. Jung understandable and useful in people’s lives.” I’ve used it in my coaching and have found it a very powerful tool when helping people to reflect and appreciate their preferences and ways of being at work.
An MBTI report should always be debriefed. I have found there are common themes in my conversations with the Introverts when they debrief their preferences. First, we explore the internal energy, quiet strength, and intellectual thinking. Many of the conversations start with, “oh that explains a lot about me, but I can’t be that way at work”. Recently, I was working with a group where at least half the leaders were introverts. Many of them were struggling to be an introvert in an extroverted organization. This experience led me on a journey of exploring the concept of introvert in more depth. I landed on the website Quiet Revolution and have been reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Just like my clients, this exploration of introversion has been an awakening for me.
Are you an introvert? or an extrovert? There are many tools online to assess your internal preferences. One on the Quiet site Are you an Introvert? is somewhat helpful. Fast Company’s article on Are you an Introvert or An Extrovert, reveals the continuum and how we can have mixes of introvert and extrovert called Ambivert.
What I love about the way Susan Cain defines introvert is not just the classic MBTI discussion on energy but more about stimulus. I have long known that if I need to get reenergized, I need quiet time. I often carve out time in a busy day for a quiet walk by myself to restore my energy. Cain also describes something I’ve known about myself but never linked to introversion. I get overstimulated easily. For example, Home Depot and Shopping Malls…lots of energy, lots of stimulus, super depleting. Working with teams with lots of people, all day conferences; they are all super stimulating and exciting. But, you won’t find me having lunch with everyone, I need to stop, regroup and have some quiet time. I’ve had to learn how to manage the stimulus in my life and know that over stimulus requires a deep dive into a quiet reflective space. I recharge quickly but the chapters on stimulus were very helpful into why I need this quiet time.
What I find most fascinating in Cain’s research is all the places that she finds introverts who are trying very hard to be extrovert. She also writes about some key places where organizations have learned how to honor introverts and unleash their tremendous creativity. One whole chapter is about work spaces. She notes many introverts do better in a quiet office and often when given a quiet space become more productive and their performance soars. Yet, we design so many collaborative work spaces and encourage people to work on teams. How do we balance the needs of introverts and extroverts in our businesses and organizations? Collaborative space and quiet spaces? Solo work and team work?
I am always cautious about labels. I never want people to make excuses like…”Oh I can’t do that because I’m an introvert”. Or, “I can’t work with her, she’s an extrovert”. Yet we live in one of the most extroverted nations in the world and I am curious to hear how you engage the introverts in your life so they can thrive in their homes, communities and work places.
I encourage you to read the book whether you are an Introvert or Extrovert. More than likely you have an introvert in your life that could benefit from a conversation about what he/she needs to thrive at home or work. How are you engaging an introvert? Contact Chandler Coaching to share your ideas
Photo: Woman on Beach in Washington, by Polly Chandler