Freeze column: Extroversion vs. introversion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

By David Freeze
for the Salisbury Post
I had finished a really busy week and found the opportunity Sunday to relax and catch up. A very early run, and early church, and then I looked forward to a day to take it easy, doing some things but not pushed by a schedule. Those days don’t come often, but when they do, I really enjoy them.
This kind of day recharges my battery. I think it always has. This brings to mind the old debate. People generally show tendencies toward being either an extrovert or an introvert. Most know which way they lean, but might like more information about it.
An introvert draws strength from spending time alone or in a very limited group of others. They focus inward on reflection and ideas. Often people mistake shyness for introversion, but usually that isn’t the case. Introverts enjoy people, but may find it draining to be in an environment with too many people or in a large social gathering. Introverts are better listeners generally, and might often look forward to the end of the large gathering.
Extroverts on the other hand are generally more sure of themselves, especially in large gatherings. Extroverts find confidence and recharge their own batteries with others. When they feel drained, extroverts seek out groups of people and often social gatherings. They feel less comfortable when alone. Extroverts don’t take as much time to listen, often thinking of what they want to say.
I took three human resources classes during my masters program at Pfeiffer. All of them at one time or another got around to focusing on how introversion/extroversion affects the setting or the process. Both introversion and extroversion have strengths and weaknesses, making it more important to understand the difference. Certainly the world needs plenty of both.
A few years back, I was involved in an annual meeting for my nationwide employer. A group of salesmen got together and presented a skit about the company president. I’ll call him Rob. Every time you saw him, which for me was about two to three times a year, Rob would come over, slap my back, and start a conversation. I always wondered if he listened to my answers.
Evidently, others felt the same. The salesmen, extroverts themselves, had one of their group dress as Rob. “Rob” came out, slapped someone on the back and started his conversation. “Rob” said, “How are you doing?” The other person said, “Well things aren’t so good, my dog just died, my wife left me …” “Rob” slapped him again on the back and said “Hey, that’s great, keep up the good work!” as he moved on to a conversation and backslap with someone else.
Extroverts generally have a lot of confidence and are glad to be in situations that require them to think on their feet. Depending on their preparation, this could be good or bad. Introverts sometimes hold back when they have the right answer, often afraid to voice an opinion. It is very possible that the introvert doesn’t like to address a large group.
There is a test that we can all take easily online. It is called the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment. The free version is available at lots of sites, and I take it every few years to see if I am changing any. Settle in and be comfortable, then be honest with yourself as you take the test.
There are four basic portions of the test. You will end up with a rating for all four categories. Explore further and you can see how your personality might mesh with co-workers, friends and family members. Get them to take the test. It will take a while, but most people enjoy the anticipation of the rating that they will receive. There are no right or wrong answers, but answer honestly for a true assessment.
One of the many sites is or you can Google Myers Briggs. My own rating is INTJ.
Coming up in the next column is a revisit to the online dating discussion of a few weeks back. That column had more responses in person and online than any column since Bigfoot. I hope you have a good time reading it.