Category Archives: Introverts

Extravert or Extrovert? Does it matter? My 3 reason for being contrary

jungA woman who comment on an article I wrote called 7 awesome traits of the introvert stated that she “loved” the article, but noted I misspelled “extrovert.”

I understand her confusion because there are two accepted spellings for this dichotomy on the introvert/extrovert spectrum of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The other is “extravert.” I prefer the latter.

I was aware of the two spellings before I began writing about introverts and extraverts. I was also aware that the “extrovert” spelling was the most common of the two. However, I made a conscious decision to run with the less common spelling.

Some would peg me as being a nonconformist or contrary. I began spelling the name of this dichotomy I think because “extra” means “outside” in Latin–as in outside oneself–and, most importantly, it was easier to remember.

However, the second reason is not a valid reason to spell a word a certain way, a way that is uncommon to most. So to justify my unconventional way of spelling this word, I decided to research the spelling of extravert/extrovert.

A fellow blogger, Bill McAneny, wrote on this a blog post on this topic, which appears first when you type in Google “extravert vs extrovert.” He defends his use “extravert” in his writing by quoting Carl Jung:

“Carl Gustav Jung first coined the terms and he was very clear:

Extraversion [sic] is characterized by interest in the external object, responsiveness, and a ready acceptance of external happenings, a desire to influence and be influenced by events, a need to join in…the capacity to endure bustle and noise of every kind, and actually find them enjoyable, constant attention to the surrounding world, the cultivation of friends and acquaintances… The psychic life of this type of person is enacted, as it were, outside himself, in the environment.

CJ Jung, Psychological Types, CW 6, pars. 1-7″

Further research on this subject–which now was becoming an obsession with me–led me to turn to Wikipedia, which uses “extraverstion” to describe the differences between the two dichotomies on the spectrum.

My search continued for a valid reason for the difference of spelling extravert.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers the “extrovert” spelling and “extravert” as an option. In other words, “extrovert” is the favorite child. I guess the dictionary has progressed to modern day times.

One blog claimed “extrovert” is bad Latin and recounts a story (hard to verify) where Jung was asked the question of which spelling is correct, to which Jung’s secretary replied on Jung’s behalf that “extrovert” is bad Latin.

The general feeling I get from this little issue is that the Latin spelling is being thrown out the window in favor of modern day jargon…rubbish.

At this point I’m thinking I’ve spent way too much time on this topic, and if you’ve read this far, you probably have better things to do. I have come up with three reasons why I will continue to write “extravert” rather than “extrovert”:

  1. I’ve spelled it this way in every post I’ve written and don’t feel like going through all of them and changing the spelling simply to satisfy people who don’t like it.
  2. It’s easy for me to remember…extra meaning “outside.”
  3. If it’s good enough for Carl Jung, it’s good enough for me.

These are my three reasons for being contrary. Next I’ll explain why I spell “jobseeker” and not “job seeker.” Or not.

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8 awesome traits of the introvert

I wrote this post more than a year ago but have since added another strong trait of the introvert. 

When I ask my Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop attendees if they think I’m an introvert or extravert, they usually guess wrong. “But you’re so lively and loud,” they say.

What do they expect from me, Dawn of the Living Dead?

Many people don’t see the eight awesome traits introverts demonstrate. Here they are:

1. The ability to speak in public is the first of eight awesome traits the introverts demonstrate. Those of my attendees who guess wrong about my preference believe that to be an effective speaker, one must be an extravert.

They see my outward personality as an extraverted trait. I don’t blame them for guessing wrong, because society has been under the impression that showmanship belongs exclusively to the extraverts.

2. You want a sincere conversation? You’ll get it with introverts. Our thing is not more is better, as in the number of people with whom we speak. No, we prefer talking with fewer people and engaging in deeper conversation. You’ll know we’ll give you our undivided attention. It’s helpful if we’re interested in the topic.

3. We think before we speak. Dominating a meeting is not our style; we favor something akin to Parliamentary Procedure. That doesn’t mean we don’t have intelligent things to say; we just don’t like to compete with the extraverts who learn by talking.

The problem with our method of communicating is we might not get the opportunity to get our brilliant thoughts out in the open.

4. We rule when it comes to research. We learn best by researching topics on our own and, as such, prefer the computer over dialog. Extraverts learn best by throwing around ideas among their colleagues and friends. We find staff meetings unproductive unless there’s an agenda and some sense of order. Brainstorming is usually a waste of time to us.

5. We hear you the first time. We’re considered great listeners. But we don’t appreciate being talked at. We’re perceptive so you don’t need to stress your point with 10 minutes of nonstop talking. You don’t like caviar, you say. And you had a bad experience eating it when you were a child. Got it.

6. We love to write. Writing is our preferred mode of communication, but this doesn’t mean we’re incapable of talking. We just don’t have the capacity to talk from sunrise to sunset. Writing allows us to formulate our thoughts and express them eloquently. There’s no denying, however, that our workplace favors those who talk; so there are times when we put down the pen and let our voice be heard.

7. We’re just as creative as the next person. Our creative juices flow from solitude, not open spaces where people throw Nerf footballs, eat cookies, and attend wrap sessions until 10:00 pm. If you see us working intently in our offices or cubicles, we’re usually enjoying “moments,” so don’t break our concentration. Nothing personal; we’ll join you at the pool table when our work is completed.

8. We can stand being alone. We don’t need constant attention from others; rather we enjoy the time to think and reflect on life in general. Some might consider this as standoffish, but those are people who require a great deal of stimuli and don’t understand the beauty of Quiet (watch Susan Cain’s YouTube video). We develop long-lasting friendships with fewer people, as deeper is better than broader. Don’t pity us if you have 20 friends and we have only five. We’re good with that.


My MBTI workshop attendees are not far off the mark when they guess I’m an extravert; I do have the ability to put on the Robin Williams act, or revert to a serious Bill Belichick persona. I put 100% into teaching the finer points of the job search, and as a result my exit from the room is quick and toward the stairway to where I can retreat to my computer.

Job Interview Success for Introverts: So, you’re an introvert

So, you’re an introvert

Book Cover

I was in my mid 40’s when I discovered my preference for introversion. Until then, I thought I was an extravert (extrovert), mainly because I could, and still can, talk with ease to complete strangers. Truth be told, I hoped that my preference was for extraversion, not introversion; simply because society favors extraverts in most aspects of life: school, work, social interaction, and the job search, to name a few. I doubted my acceptance and didn’t speak proudly of my preference until I learned more about the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory.

Do you remember when you learned your preference for introversion? Were you in doubt like me? Did you have a sense of dread thinking of the stereotypes of introverts, such as shy, loner, standoffish, aloof, recluse, or rude? Furthermore, you may have believed that introverts couldn’t make small talk or associate with important, outgoing people.

But if all of this were true, how were you capable of talking with complete strangers, even approaching them, or want to be with your peers and attend social gatherings? How was it that some of your friends accused you of talking too much? And how have you been able to rub elbows with authorities in your town or city, to make small talk with the best of them? You were behaving more like an extravert, weren’t you? No, you were behaving like an introvert, able to adapt to your setting, and doing all the things mentioned here were a result of your introversion.

Now being an introvert doesn’t seem so bad, does it? In fact, being an introvert has its benefits. You are an intelligent conversationalist. You think before talking and, therefore, don’t make as many faux pas as some of your extraverted friends and colleagues. You are an engaged listener who doesn’t think about what you’ll say next before totally hearing the other person out. Being alone doesn’t upset you; rather, you enjoy going to the movies alone and eating alone. Your friends and family can’t understand this. You love writing and do it well. There are many things about being an introvert that you appreciate, feel comfortable with, and wouldn’t want to change.

There are truths, though, that set introverts apart from extraverts; truths that put introverts at a disadvantage in life and the job search, especially at the all-important interview. Some of the strengths introverts possess can be faults, particularly when it comes to verbal communications. Talking, small talk to be precise, is a challenge for introverts because they feel the need to think before speaking, whereas extraverts will speak before thinking. Because of their inclination to think before talking, introverts are often left out of conversations.


Job Interview Success for Introverts is available at Packt Publishing

Dear college students, 7 signs that you’re probably an introvert

college student studyingIt seems at times like you’re living your life looking from the outside in. When you’re asked to describe yourself, words like these come to mind: “quiet,” “contemplative,” “reflective,” “creative,” “thoughtful.”

You’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, so you’re not sure if you’re included in approximately 50% of of the U.S. population that are introverts. (Estimates range from 35%-51%.)

Are you an introvert? Chances are great if you relate to the following preferences:

1. You’d rather write a paper and communicate via email than communicate verbally. Your forte is writing papers because you have the time to research the topic and write down your thoughts. You have the ability to concentrate on the topic at hand, take time to formulate your sentences and paragraphs.

Group discussions can go either way for you; great because you’re hitting each point, or poorly because you prefer to think before speaking, unlike your counterpart, the extravert. If the class is being dominated by the extraverts, you may have a hard time speaking up. You have the correct answers but hesitate and miss your opportunities.

Note: Times like these will be a good lesson for when you enter the workforce where the extraverts can dominate the meetings, unless you find those small breaks in discussion to express your thoughts. No, don’t bother raising your hand.

2. You’d prefer to work alone or with one other classmate. While many people–mainly extraverts–think teamwork and brainstorming are the key to creativity, other wiser people know creativity can come from individual work. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, asserts that creativity has little to do with group collaboration:

“There’s a lot of nonsense floating around these days about how creativity is fundamentally social act. Ignore this. Yes, creativity is social in the sense that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us….But for many people, the creative thinking process is a solo act,” she writes in a blog post.

Note: In the workplace a great deal of emphasis is placed on working as a team. You’ll have to contribute to your team’s efforts, ignore the useless prattle that may ensue. Take time alone to decompress from the many meetings and brainstorming.

3. Parties aren’t your thing. Alone you enter a crowded room blaring with loud music, scan the scene for a familiar face or two; and not recognizing a soul, simply leave unbeknownst to the host. Or you’ve been at a party for two hours and feel it’s time to leave, even though your classmates are just warming up. You’re tired and weary of making small talk that feels shallow to you.

Here’s a different scenario that is more palatable: some close friends ask you if you’d like to spend Friday night going to a movie or sporting event and then going back to the dorm room to engage in deep, meaningful conversation. Even though it’s 12:00 am, you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself.

Note: Your job out of college might include attending networking events, where you’ll have to engage in small talk. Always make sure you’re ready with talking points about current events, industry news, even sports.

4. You have fewer but deeper friendships. You marvel at your extraverted classmates who seem to know someone wherever they go. But when you look closer at their relationships, many of them are superficial and merely acquaintances. Your friends, on the other hand, know each others’ idiosyncrasies, secrets…in other words, know the whole self.

The drawback to having fewer but deeper friendships is that when the urge strikes you to go out for a party or a movie, your close friends may be too busy to hang out. This leaves you alone to go out for a quiet meal or a cup of coffee.

Note: You may be expected to interact with your future colleagues, lest you come across as aloof. Short conversations will be your preference with your acquaintances, so learn the art of breaking away smoothly.

5. You’re called a great listener. Your acquaintances marvel at your ability to listen to their problems and provide solutions. Justin’s girlfriend is showing signs of indifference, perhaps breaking off the relationship. You suggest not jumping to conclusions because the girlfriend is deep into her Engineering finals. You’ve become Justin’s, an extravert, new best friend, as he and his girlfriends are making amends.

Note: Similar to Justin’s story you don’t want to be cornered listening to your colleagues’ problems or simple chatter. Politely tell them you have work to do.

6. Tell her I’ll call back. It’s Mom calling, but you don’t have time to get into a long conversation about your sister’s wedding plans. You love Mom. But you hate the phone. At least if feels that way at the moment. Introverts have an aversion to the phone, because there are no boundaries when you talk with someone over the phone, not like e-mail.

Note: In the workplace customer relations often develop through telephone conversation, followed by face-to-face interactions. You’ll have to push yourself to pick up the phone at times to make or answer a call, even if it’s Mom.

7. There are times you’d rather…read. “Come on,” your dorm mate says excitedly. A bunch of your classmates are going out to do whatever. They’ve all agreed that they’ll let the wind take them where it may. It’s not like you’re not adventurous; you’ve shown the wild side of you in the past. It’s just that you’ve had a long day and would like to read a great book and maybe start another. This is your alone time and how you recharge your batteries.

Note: To fit in the organization, you may have to suck it up and go out to socialize with your colleagues, even the night before a workday. Do this sporadically to keep in good stead with your colleagues.


These are seven signs you might be an introvert. Your preference for introversion is not something to dread; rather it’s something to embrace, it’s you. I suggest you read Susan Cain’s book. It’s the best one I know of that explains the benefits of introversion in layman’s terms.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with those who can benefit from it.

2 facts about how introverts communicate and network

introvertnetworking

Career advisors, when advising certain jobseekers, have you ever noticed that small talk–breadth of knowledge–is not their forte? Rather they’d prefer to talk about more substantive topics–depth of knowledge–and appreciate the time to formulate their thoughts before talking. What you get from them is rich, deep discussion that’s very purposeful.

Have you also noticed they don’t seem excited when you encourage them to network? It’s not their thing, entering a room full of strangers with whom they have nothing in common. It drains their energy even thinking about it. They may tell you they’d rather walk over burning coals than attend an organized networking event.

If they exhibit these behaviors, it’s likely they’re introverts (read this post from the Huffington Post) and may not realize this, unless they’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I didn’t know my preference for introversion until I took the MBTI when I was 45-years-old. And when I got my results I was shocked because I considered myself to be outgoing.


Communicating

As you’re meeting with your jobseekers, be mindful of how they communicate with you. Introverts are innate listeners who are not as comfortable with small talk as their counterpart, the extraverts, who are quick to start the conversation and would like you to listen. Your conversation with introverts will be deep and thought provoking, but you’ll most likely have to jump-start it.

The best approach to take with an introvert is to start the discussion by stating some observations and then following up with questions. Now stand back and wait for your introverted jobseeker to deliver some insightful statements. Try not to interrupt.

For example, “After looking at your résumé/LinkedIn profile, I am impressed with the detail in which you describe your past jobs. You list a great number of duties. But what I’d like to see are some more accomplishments. What do you think?”

This question gives them the open door to express their thoughts. “I see your point, and I think I could explain how I was close to 100% accurate in my accounting responsibilities. In fact, I was often acknowledged for this and won ‘Employee of the Month’ many times.” You give your jobseeker the opportunity to express her thoughts, and then you do what any good counselor does, sit back and listen.

Joyce Shelleman, Ph.D, offers this sage advice: “Offer [introverts] the opportunity to follow-up with you the next day with any additional questions or thoughts. It usually takes time for an introvert to think of all the things that they want to communicate if they haven’t been able to anticipate your question in advance.”

Networking

It’s no secret that structured networking makes many people uncomfortable, especially introverts. One quote I share with my workshop attendees is from Liz Lynch, Smart Networking: “At the first networking event I ever attended by myself, I lasted five minutes—including the four minutes it took me to check my coat.” This quote clearly illustrates how networking for the first time can be like trying to speak another language.

Now imagine how an introvert feels presented with the prospect of entering a roomful of strangers, expected to make small talk, and (most difficult) promoting himself. He will feel tired just thinking about having to talk to people he doesn’t know, particularly after a day full of looking for work. He may also experience bouts of reluctance prior to a morning networking event.

But here’s the thing; networking is a vital tool in the job search and it’s your job to encourage your introverted jobseeker to attend networking events. Suggest 5 points of attack:

  1. Tell him to have a goal of how many people he’ll talk to at the event. If three is what he decides, that’s fine. Introverts prefer to talk to fewer people and engage in deep, thoughtful conversations.
  2. Suggest that he takes a friend or two. There’s more comfort in having someone by his side to talk with if things are not going as planned. Advise him, however, not to spend all his time at the event with his networking buddy.
  3. Provide encouragement by reminding him that he should focus on asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to what others say. People like to be listened to, and introverts are great listeners.
  4. Enforce upon him that he doesn’t have to be fake; rather he should be natural when speaking with other networkers. He doesn’t have to launch into his 30-second commercial as soon as he meets each person, which will serve to push people away.
  5. Lastly, he doesn’t have to be the last one to leave; although, he might be the one to close the joint if he’s having a grand time. This is in the realm of possibility.

As a career advisor, be cognizant of how introverts communicate. Give them space to express their thoughts and remember that the meetings you have are not about you; they’re about helping your jobseeker express their thoughts so you can better help them. Networking can be unpleasant unless the introvert has realistic expectations, so remind him that he’s in control of the situation.

Book Cover

A night of solitude; bliss for an introvert

solitudeOne of my valued connections, Pat Weber, wrote a great article on how to be your true introverted self. It got me thinking about how I was true to myself last week. Friends were throwing a get together and when my wife said she told them we’d be there, I told her, “not me.”

The news of the get together came after a long week of work and a day of soccer and yard work. My wife and I argued a bit about how lame it would appear if only she and the kids went, but in the end she threw up her hands in frustration. It’s not that I dislike our friends; quite the opposite, I enjoy their company…in appropriate doses.

This is what Pat means in her article: introverts are in their stride when they don’t force themselves (or others) to be more extraverted. When they do what comes natural. She gives spending time with her pets, reading, and spending time with a few friends as activities more to introverts’ liking.

I decided that night that what I wanted to do was stay home to be alone. If one of the kids wanted to stay home that would be fine. But if my wife and they wanted to go to the get together, that was fine as well. None of them wanted to stay home with me, so I was on my own…and in total bliss.

You may wonder what I did that night. First I ordered a pizza, which I ate in our living room, without guilt. Then I searched On Demand for a movie I wanted to watch. The one I chose was about a man in search of his sister who was seriously injured in Brazil. He was a Kung Fu super hero who killed many people without being scratched. The movie sucked, but I watched the entire flick.

After the movie I ate my favorite evening snack, cereal. Then I did what makes being alone so enjoyable for me; I read one of my Joe Nesbo novels. A times I wondered what my family and friends were doing, but I was grateful for the solitude.

I imagined what I would be thinking at the get together when 10:00 p.m. rolled around. Probably I would want to leave after having a great time catching up, while my wife would want to stay until 12:00 or longer. I also imagined the resentment I would feel and wishing that we had taken different cars. Further I thought how ridiculous it would look if I left the gathering alone.

There he goes, they would think. What’s wrong? Does he dislike us? Maybe one or more of our introverted friends would think how nice it would be if he could also leave, their time being extraverted expended like mine.

Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, writes about how she’s not a huge fan of parties because her energy wanes, just like mine. I enjoyed reading this part of her book, related to it completely.

This is the lot us introverts are dealt when our energy level wanes and it’s time to bolt the scene. We’re perceived as aloof, when in fact we enjoy being with people as much as anyone. Just not for an extended amount of time. Unlike extraverts, who feed on being with people, introverts enjoy the occasional bouts of solitude that allows us to recharge our battery.

When my wife woke up in the morning, I sheepishly asked her what explanation she gave our friends for my absence. She said with a smirk, “I told them you’re an adult.” This gave me a great sense of pleasure, and I vowed I’d make the next get together. I’m already bracing myself for that night.

An introvert’s idea of a great vacation

beach

This summer I was fortunate to vacation with my family on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In my mind, this was a great vacation because it afforded me the time to reflect, draw my energy inward, and not concern myself with too much external stimuli. In three words: an introvert’s paradise.

Obviously my family and I spent most of the time at the beaches. The Cape Cod Bay was within walking distance to our north and the slamming waves of the Atlantic Ocean were to our south.

One day we would walk less than a quarter of a mile to the Bay, another we would drive to the Atlantic Ocean. In both cases, there was nothing more to do than sit in a beach chair, bake in the sun, and take a dip in the icy water.

Foolishly I tried my hand at body surfing. I caught a great wave and was carried ten or so feet until I hit the sand and tumbled end over end. My kids and wife laughed at me as I was pulling sand out of my hair and swim trunks and spitting more of it from my mouth. A week later my shoulders and stomach are still red from the sandpaper I slid across.

The best part of the vacation was the time I spent reading alongside my daughter, who was engaged in Gone Girl.The rest of the family was down by the ocean body surfing or floating on the surface. Occasionally they’d beckon us to join them, but we’d wave our hands at them indicating we were happy where we were. 

My daughter and I nary spoke a word to each other, save for asking the other to hand over a water and PB&J. We didn’t speak often because we didn’t have to. Delving into our books was our way of relaxing and reflecting. Our energy was directed inward and we were unaware of our surrounding. Total bliss.

TurtleOther moments I enjoyed were my 45-minute, morning walks. Our rental house was at the end of a dirt road on which our van would bottom out no matter how slow we drove. I saw small animals, like rabbits, turtles, and even one snake on this road.

I also collected branches and twigs for our nighttime fire. More than anything, these walks gave me time to think and enjoy the lack of “noise” I hear on a daily basis at home and work. 

On Friday we went into Provincetown to buy Tee-shirts, sweat shirts, and eat Portuguese fried dough. It was Carnival week, so the people were free of inhibitions and walking around in interesting outfits. This was truly a great time to people watch; direct my energy inward.

I couldn’t help but notice that many people were acting in an extraverted way; I was content simply walking with my family. I answered innocent questions from my son like, “Why is that man dressed like a woman?” with the only answer I could muster, “Because he can.”

Every night we built a fire in a small, rusted fire bowl. We talked about the day, laughing at silly moments like my daughter locking the keys in our van–the second time it’s happened to us during out two vacations on the Cape. We enjoyed reflecting on the week and making plans for the remaining days of the vacation. At a determined time I would leave the group and settle down to read in the comfort of the bed, with the fan blowing cool August air on me.

At one point of this glorious vacation my wife told me she received a text from one of our friends who was wondering if we wanted to join them for a get-together with other friends the day we returned from our vacation. The prospect of attending a party that would last long through the night was far from appealing. Maybe and extravert would jump at this opportunity, but the idea alone exhausted me. 

Some might consider my family’s vacation boring. That’s fine. I think it was the greatest vacation ever because it gave me time to relax and prepare for the day I would return to work and engage with people in my workshops.