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Introversion and Extraversion Revisited

By: Lynda McKim



For many facilitators who are not familiar with the Jungian definitions of Introversion and Extraversion, this aspect of Personality Dimensions® presents some problems. For those people, we will take another look at this important dimension.


Introversion and Extraversion are not actually part of Temperament Theory, but it is important to introduce it to your participants because it does have an impact across all four temperaments and also because it helps participants to better understand how different people communicate. It is also important that you understand it thoroughly so that you can make allowances for it in your workshops.


Let’s start with a review of the Jungian definitions of Introversion and Extraversion. Unlike the more commonly accepted definitions of “shy” and “outgoing,” the Jungian definitions refer to how individuals are energized. Introverts draw their energy from within, from the self, from quiet time alone and tend to direct their energy into inward reflection. Extraverts are stimulated by, and draw energy from people, and things outside themselves and tend to direct their energy outward in action. For example, if and Introvert and an Extravert were working at their computer all day planning a workshop, at the end of the day, the Introvert would be energized while the Extravert may be quite tired (due to no external stimulation). On the other hand, if an Introvert and an Extravert were spending the day delivering that workshop to a group of 20 people, the Introvert would likely be tired (too much external influence) and the Extravert may be quite pumped up and need time to come down before sleeping.


Jungian Introverts do their best thinking, learning, planning and decision-making through quiet reflection and study. Jungian Extraverts are at their best when talking, sharing and discussing with others. Unlike the commonly accepted definitions of Introversion and Extraversion, Introverts can be warm, outgoing and exceptionally good at interacting with others and Extraverts may sometimes be shy or reserved upon first meeting. So you can find reserved and outgoing Introverts and reserved and outgoing Extraverts.


Research has shown that there is large percentage of preference for Introversion among Inquiring Greens and a large percentage of preference for Extraversion among Resourceful Orange. However, we must not confuse Inquiring Green traits and behaviours with Introversion nor Resourceful Orange traits and behaviours with Extraversion. In developing Personality Dimensions®, we wanted to ensure that the wording addressed both Introverts and Extroverts in each temperament. For example, in one of the Maritime Focus Groups, we had an Extroverted Inquiring Green who stated very clearly that the statement “I like to take time to think before speaking” definitely did not apply to her. Her words came out as they came to mind. As a result, we changed the wording to “I like to have time to think.” This worked for her. In an Ontario Focus Group we met an Introverted Orange who could not relate to the statement “I like to be the centre of attention.” So it was removed entirely.  Several experts in Introversion and Extraversion were consulted to ensure that the Dimension Cards and the Traits and Characteristics sheets were E/I neutral. By that, I mean that all wording on the assessment instrument relates to both Introverts and Extraverts equally.


So why is E/I important to the delivery of Personality Dimensions®? The PD model itself is highly Extroverted with lots of discussion, interaction and presentations, etc. First, it is important for participants to realize that not everyone functions as they do. So if someone who is talking a lot they are not necessarily giving his/her final opinion. S/he may have a preference for Extroversion and just thinking out loud. The person who is quiet may be perceived as disinterested or not participating. In actual fact, however, this person may prefer Introversion and need time to process the incoming information before speaking. Second, if we as facilitators are not cognizant of the E/I element, our Introverts can get lost in this Extraverted setting.  As a facilitator, it is easy to give your Introverts quiet time to process information. Each time you put your participants into groups, give them a minute or two to individually think about the task at hand and perhaps make some notes to themselves. Insist on quiet during this time! Once the minute or two has past, ask the groups to start sharing. With only this brief time to process information internally and reflect on the task, Introverts will be much better prepared to join the discussion and will join much earlier than if not given this time for reflection.


Republished with permission from the Summer 2004 edition of Dimensionally Speaking.  

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