Barking at the Big Dog

It’s a great time to be an introvert

Thom muses on personality types in dealing with physical distancing and self-isolation

Most of my life I aspired to be an extrovert.

In fact, when I first took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) way back in the early 1990s, I came out as a pretty strong ENFP.

If you’re not familiar, the MBTI is a popular tool, primarily for businesses, in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of employees so as to better direct their energies with a goal of increasing effectiveness and productivity.

From Wikipedia:

“The MBTI is based on the conceptual theory proposed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who had speculated that people experience the world using four principal psychological functions – sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking – and that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The four categories are Introversion/Extroversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perception. Each person is said to have one preferred quality from each category, producing 16 unique types.

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I don’t know if I buy it completely, but it always fascinated me and being an extroverted, intuitive, feeling perceptor suited me just fine.

Except I wasn’t. It wasn’t that I was intentionally lying on the test, but I was lying to myself.

Many years later, as I started to recognize I simply was not a natural extrovert, I took the test again and came out a really strong INTP (introverted, intuitive, thinking perceptor).

It definitely calls into question the MBTI validity when, without even knowing it, you can skew the results. Thus, its effectiveness in business is also questionable, at least for some of the people some of the time.

Nevertheless, I believe the fundamental concept is sound because having come to terms with my true nature, INTP is definitely how I experience the world and I am very comfortable with it.

I’m not proud of it. There is no one right way to be and wouldn’t it be a very dull world indeed if we were all the same.

Apparently, the MBTI is still a pretty big deal. The Myers-Briggs Company is a massive international organization with hundreds of offices in 115 countries on every continent except Antarctica (of course).

They claim to work with 88 per cent of Fortune 500 companies.

In these days of physical distancing, self-isolation and working from home, there are some distinct advantages to being an INTP.

An article on how to tailor work-at-home protocols for the different personality types on HR Technologist (an online magazine for HR professionals) suggests the ease of transition is better for someone like me in all but the intuition/sensing category.

“Intuition-led employees might be at greater risk of panic, especially when cut off from in-person interactions with peers,” it says.

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Of course, in this day and age, that is easily remedied since I have at my fingertips any number of communication vehicles including Slack, Zoom, Facebook, texting, Whatsapp and many other collaboration tools.

The most important category for the current situation, though, is introversion/extroversion.

I kind of feel sorry for extroverts right now, and feelers.

For me, my life hasn’t changed all that much.

In fact, in some ways it’s a bit of a relief. Even though I have come to terms with my introversion, I still feel the pressure sometimes of having to get out and do things with other humans. And there’s the anxiety of wanting to cancel when I do have something planned. Those things are lifted for the time being.

I can sit in my tiny home all day if I want to, working, playing my guitar, painting, watching TV, getting out on the lake with my dog periodically with no sense of guilt or stress that I’m missing out on something, because there is nothing going on.

That is not to say I don’t want things to go back to normal. For everybody’s sake.

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