Welcome to the first in a series of three blogs on Metaprograms.
Metaprograms describe spectrums of behaviour and, in my view, are much misunderstood.
The title of this blog, I think gives an indication of the mainstream view of introversion and extroversion; that they are antagonistic to and in competition with each other. I would like to get just one thing across with this blog, and that is, neither is good or bad. They are simply different.
I will continue by saying that although I use the term here very very few people are ‘introverts’ or ‘extroverts’ because the correct phrasing should be ‘a tendency towards’ introversion or extraversion. As I mentioned, this trait is represented as a spectrum and therefore a vast majority of us will sit somewhere near the middle, either to the left or the right.
In my work I have found that there a great many misconceptions about what introversion and extraversion are, with many introverts feeling that they are somehow flawed so it’s worthwhile defining just how you would know if you tend towards introversion or extraversion.
The one simple definition of introversion and extraversion is, ‘what does being around people do to your energy levels?’ Introverts are drained by people and extroverts are fuelled by them. Introverts will have no problem with and actually enjoy being on their own whilst solitude resembles a torture chamber to an extrovert.
I tend to direct my clients to this website www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp (if the link doesn’t work then copy it and paste it into our browser) which will give a measure of four metaprograms including introvert/extrovert. I would encourage everyone to do it, it can be quite illuminating. Where appropriate I would also really encourage you to get your partner to do it as well and really pay attention to their result. Firstly it may help you to understand why they do that really annoying thing and it may help you to avoid doing that other thing that they keep pulling you up on!
It is very easy to fall into the common trap of thinking that people who tend towards extraversion are more fun to be around, are more engaging, represent the ideal ‘way to be’ and, conversely, introverts are boring, flawed, have nothing to say. It is also easy to think that people who tend towards either end of the spectrum couldn’t get on. That simply is not an absolute truth.
One of the central planks of Cognitive Hypnotherapy is that EVERYBODY’S DIFFERENT. It is so important to remember this. A man who’s thinking I admire very much, Trevor Silvester, suggests the single greatest problem that faces mankind is that everyone thinks that everyone else sees the world as they do. Therefore, extroverts think introverts are dull and introverts think extroverts are just loud and obnoxious. What should happen is that we should look at others’ behaviour and remember that they are just different from us. That is not to say that we cannot find someone annoying for some reason but that is not the same as writing the whole person off.
Two people can fall in love and have a long and successful relationship where one tends towards extraversion and the other introversion. The key, in my opinion, is the understanding of the view of the other person. The introvert needs to understand from time to time they may have to support their partner and go to that party when they would rather not and the extrovert will need to understand that they may need to stay in or not force their partner to attend that function with lots of strangers that they would really rather not have to make conversation with. It is the same with one of the other metaprograms on the link above such as Sensor/Intuitor. This metaprogram refers to whether you are a ‘big picture’ or ‘detail’ person.
If a detail person asks a big picture person, “how are you?” and the reply is, “fine thanks” they might think that person rude because they were expecting to really hear how the person is, some detail. In their mind, ‘fine thanks’ is simply the introduction to the rest of the story titled ‘how are you?’ In the mind of the big picture person they have given a full and complete account of how they are – the question has been answered in its entirety. If the situation were reversed the big picture person may get bored by the minute by minute commentary on the detail person’s morning.
Again, it is just important to not judge but to simply understand that the person opposite you is different from you. Not better or worse, just different.
I recently started reading a book called Quiet by Susan Cain. It is about introverts, their contribution and the misconceptions that surround them. She adds a very interesting historical perspective to this issue even if it is from a largely American perspective. I haven’t finished it yet but I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about this issue.
I would love to hear of your experiences.
Are you married to or living with someone who is on the other end of this or other behaviour spectrum?
Do you ever feel misunderstood because of your introversion or extraversion?
Do you work with someone or people with whom you grate against because of ‘your disparate ways of seeing and doing things?’
Do you worry about your children because they appear to be introvert?
I look forward to your comments.
My next blog will be about Control Freak versus Easy Going