When I first studied psychology people were fascinated, but then I realised two things: firstly they were mainly fascinated by themselves. They’d say: “Oh you’d be interested in me,” (well we are all our own favourite anecdote) and secondly, they’d say: “well it depends what you mean by ‘introvert.’” That would drive me to distraction as Jung invented the terms ‘extravert’ and ‘introvert,’ so he’d know what he meant. And it is, of course, about where we draw our energy from. Extraverts draw their energy from their environment, from people, situations, conversations, they are like vampires sucking in energy. Introverts draw their energy from within, from their own space. We can see this at parties, lots of people chatting, having fun, no-one knows who the extraverts or the introverts are; but watch more closely.
Jung was clear in his definition of Extraversion and Introversion that it is about is from where we draw our energy. Extraverts are attuned to their external environment and draw their energy from what’s going on around them, people, situations and indeed need that ‘feed.’ Introverts are more attuned to their internal environment and will draw their energy from within. This means that for Extraverts their neural processing will take place outside their heads, speaking out their thoughts while the neural processing for Introverts will occur inside their heads and emerge fully formed when they are ready to speak.
A typical Sunday morning situation and we think you’ll be able to spot which is the Extravert and which is the Introvert.
Whisper it quietly but there seems to be a groundswell of support for, and understanding of, introverts. And rightly so! As Susan Cain points out in her book: “Quiet: the power of introverts” it is difficult to be quiet in a noisy world and self-projection is often seen as the norm. So yeah more power to the introverts.
However what if this goes full circle, what will happen to us extraverts? Our maxim tends to be ‘Dico ergo sum,’ ‘I speak therefore I am,” and so will we be expected to let our energy drain away in pale silence? Who will break the ice at parties and social gatherings, who will state the obvious? We extraverts NEED to speak, it is how we process our thoughts and silence kind of scares us. Social chitchat is the glue that holds the fabric of society together and we are often expected to ensure the atomisation of the introvert world is brought into the collective world.
“Where’s my… oh there it is” is a common phrase for the extravert. They say things as they think them and they need to talk through their thoughts to make sense of them. The upside is you’ll know the context, what’s happening, why they think things, how they got to their decisions. The downside is you’ll know and experience all the mind-changes and irrelevances too; like that they momentarily misplaced… something (they never finished that sentence)! If they are extravert ‘N’ they will go through their future ideas and plans, if they are extravert ‘S’ they will take you through the details.