We have more to talk about than introversion and extraversion

One thing that used to annoy me when my kids were young was when they’d ask me on Monday what we were doing for the upcoming weekend. The reason why this bugged me was because I had no idea what we were going to do, nor did I want to make plans—I wanted to take it as it came. Planning for an upcoming weekend takes a bit of organization and scheduling, none of which floats my boat.

I’ve often proudly stated that I’m an introvert. Now I’m here to tell all that I’m also a very clear perceiver. This explains my aversion to planning and also explains why I’m spontaneous and (in my own mind) exciting. Ergo my annoyance at constantly being asked by my lovely young children what we were going to do every weekend for 15 years.

You’d think that being a perceiver at work can be a detriment, as organization is essential to success. I totally agree that being organized is an essential skill. So I’m also here to tell you that I am organized, I do plan, and I follow a schedule…with intense concentration. Being a perceiver doesn’t mean one can’t practice the traits of a judger, those who are organized, need to plan, and follow a schedule, etc.

As one of the approximately 43% of the population that prefers perceiving, I’m surrounded by colleagues most of whom prefer judging. I envy their natural inclination toward organization, but I wouldn’t want to trade my natural strengths:

Spontaneity: I have the ability to walk into a room and deliver a workshop in hundreds of different ways (an exaggeration). If I’m bored with the presentation, I’ll go in a different direction. Now here’s the rub: on rare occasions my spontaneity will not work as I didn’t plan.

Adaptability: Oh my god, the projector blew a bulb. My manager decided to sit in on a workshop. My colleague is out and I have to take one of her workshops. More people showed up than expected. No problem. This is a great thing about perceivers, we don’t panic; we adapt.

Flexibility: Because I don’t particularly like to plan or live by a schedule—although I do—I love a variety of activities. I love a day when I have to drop working on a project to solve a problem that arrives or attend a meeting with the director of the organization or fill in for a colleague (related to adaptability). I therefore expect others to be flexible when I need some assistance.

Deadline driven: Yes we perceivers like to meet deadlines, but we don’t stress over them and drive others nuts about small details. I internalize deadlines and when they’re prolonged I get mad as hell. The way I see it, if you’re going to give me a deadline and I’m gonna try to meet it, own up to your end of the bargain.

It seems that introversion and extraversion are the only two factors of the eight Myers Briggs Type Indicator factors that people like to talk about, but how one leads one’s life is important to both one’s personal and professional lives. My kids may have been on to something when they constantly badgered me about the upcoming weekends. And I may have made a fool of myself when I veered off course during a workshop. But I’m cool with my preference and don’t mind adopting the preferences of a judger—it makes life interesting.

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2 thoughts on “We have more to talk about than introversion and extraversion

  1. vlbrown

    Yes. I agree with you that most of what we get to read about is IE differences, or ABCD “type” profiles. But we don’t hear or read much about the other three axes.
    Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a workshop on Personality and was able to ask the speaker some questions about part of my type that has confused me. I score INTJ most of the time, but occasionally ISTJ. So I am N with a “highly developed” S component.
    After my discussion with the speaker during the break, I now understand much better how those two aspects fit together for me.

    (As a J myself, with a horror of surprise and “spontaneous” decision making, I enjoyed reading your article here. It helped me to better understand some of the people I’ve been around occasionally who like to just “take things as they come.”

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thank you very much for your input. For me, it’s not necessarily choosing spontaneity; it’s a matter of survival. I guess we survive in different ways. For you, organizing beforehand makes life easier for you. I, on the other hand, find it more challenging to stay organized and can take the occasional “oh crap” and deal with it.

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