Welcome to part 2 of our understanding your personality guide! In the previous part, we explored what personality is and why it is important in providing direction to your life.
We also talked about the MBTI and how it helps us narrow down your personality by examining the way you behave and respond to certain situations. This allows us to identify strengths and weaknesses to improve upon.
Chapters in this guide:
Part 1 - The Importance Of Personality
Part 2 - Introversion Vs Extraversion
In this part, we will be talking about the first aspect of the MBTI, introversion and extraversion. We'll compare introverts and extroverts, as well as some nuances between the two.
This guide mainly serves to talk about enhancing your own personality. Even if you identify yourself as one or the other, do read them both to better understand other people!
What is extraversion?
Let's start with the extroverts. If you've done your MBTI test and got an E for the first letter, it means that you lean more towards the extrovert side.
If you feel like someone who gains energy from social interactions or mingling with other people, you're probably an extrovert.
If we think of the human brain as a battery with a limit on how much attention and care we can show, then extroverts recharge that battery as they interact with other people, refueling on the energy of companionship and socializing.
As such, they exhibit enthusiasm and tend to prefer engaging with the external world rather than their own thoughts.
The benefits of extraversion
The main benefits of extraversion is obvious. In fact, in the world today where networking and connections play a big part in the opportunities you get to experience in life, extraversion has great benefits.
Since socializing fuels you, you take more joy with interacting with others. In return, this allows you to more easily build up your social connections, thus gaining a larger support net.
Additionally, since extroverts tend to prefer being in the limelight, it's easier for you to put yourself out there, making it easier to try new experiences and things.
Due to the convergence of social behavior, it's easier for extroverts to find like minded people as they join a wide range of activities within their interests. This allows them to meet more people and make more friends.
As an extrovert, take advantage of this trait by going out and actively participating and initiating meetups and other activities.
This lets you more easily explore the world around you and gain new perspectives, helping you become a more well rounded person as you meet more people.
In fact, having an extroverted personality usually results in a better mental state simply because you have a wider support net to fall back onto for various problems.
Humans tend to forge ties with each other through interaction and communication. These things come more naturally to extroverts since they benefit off the energy of social interaction.
In turn, this allows extroverts to form deeper connections through repeated and frequent interactions with other people.
Of course, we aren't here to simply talk about the benefits. We want to improve on our own personality, helping us become better. So, let's talk about some things to work on as an extrovert!
Improving as an extrovert
As an extrovert, the socializing aspect of your life is the largest perk for you. As you feel recharged meeting people, you gain a lot of external benefits more easily than introverts.
However, this same perk is also the one that should be handled carefully.
Time is precious
As an extrovert, meeting a lot of people and having the energy to do so may not be as much of a limiting factor to you, but in the end, time is limited.
As we commit ourselves to various activities and meet various people, do keep in mind how you should partition your limited time.
Joining everything is not a good idea. Instead, be more selective in joining things that are beneficial and fun to us. This means prioritizing groups that bring us the most joy - whether it aligns with our interests or our goals.
In particular, extroverts should take care in not being lost to the fun of activities and friends, forgoing important relationships like family.
Remember, all relationships in life are a two way street. Most people expect a certain amount of reciprocation to maintain that relationship.
Having too many groups will only result in relationships that are shallow on the surface, with no real value and meaning behind them. As an extrovert, meeting new people is not an issue, but creating and maintaining stable and supportive relationships is.
Don't spread yourself too thin! Instead, try to build up deeper relationships, instead of broader ones.
More focus on yourself
In our how to be happy guide, we learnt about the importance of self validation. As an extrovert, this is even more important.
As an extraverted person, external validation can be very important to you. This is because as we tend to mix around with many people, we can become reliant on them for feedback and be influenced by them more easily.
Compared to introverts, extroverts have less of a need to conduct self introspection since they tend to be able to interact and bounce ideas off people more. However, it is important to focus on oneself as well.
While you're comfortable with people, it doesn't mean you're comfortable with all situations and choices. Learning more about yourself and what you like is important in establishing supportive relationships.
Introspect more often, and learn to validate yourself and your thoughts - but be open to suggestions from other people. As an extrovert, a wider network is a beneficial thing. Use it and combine it with your own thoughts to gain a more nuanced view on your choices.
Be open to diversity
In building relationships, diversity is an important thing. In fact, the reason many workplaces are promoting diversity in hiring is to establish a varied culture so that more ideas can be bounced across from different perspectives.
Similarly, extroverts should seek to include more diversity in their relationships. While extroverts tend to have no trouble meeting various people, this is often quite limited to meeting other extroverts.
This is because extroverts tend to participate in more activities and thus have a higher chance of running into the same kind of people (e.g. parties, gatherings).
It might be beneficial for extroverts to take on different perspectives by joining less proactive activities that introverts can be found at for a change of pace and perspective.
Of course, you should only do this if you're comfortable with it. After all, while extroverts tend to be the life of the party, it's uncomfortable having to do all the initiating.
Influencing the flow
As extroverts, you tend to control the flow of the situation since you are okay with being in the middle of things.
As such, you can learn to direct people into situations that are advantageous for the group as a whole. In other words, you are directly responsible for the mood of a certain gathering or otherwise.
Learning to lead and be proactive in various situations will help in moving social situations into a more beneficial position for both you and the people around you.
This means trying to be more initiative - and encouraging others to initiate as well.
Don't overdo it
This is perhaps the greatest complaint for extroverts, and one that we might subconsciously ignore - overdoing things.
As we influence the flow of situations, we tend to push people too far sometimes. For example, it can be simple to push people past their comfort zone in social interactions, whether it be close physical interaction or simply speaking too much.
It's not fair to base other people's comfort level based on our own. Somethings that seem natural for us may be difficult for others, especially when it comes to interacting with other people.
While it may seem boring, it is important to learn to listen more and talk less. Sometimes, reading the mood of the group and knowing how to respond is more precious than simply stating your opinions.
As an extrovert, you are well poised in today's society which places large value on forming connections. Being extraverted is also beneficial for your mental health if you're able to leverage it to build up wider and deeper social nets for support.
By working on improving an extraverted personality, you stand to gain a lot in life.
What is introversion?
On the other side of extraversion, we have introversion. If you've gotten an "I" as the first letter in the MBTI test, you probably prefer the more introverted side in you.
The definition of introversion is someone who gains energy from solitude. They prefer being alone or in small groups, liking the idea of staying at home or in nature where there are little people.
This doesn't mean that introverts cannot socialize, however, simply that they prefer and value their alone time highly as it allows them to be comfortable in their own space and doing their own things without considering other people.
As such, it also doesn't mean that introverts hate parties or social gatherings - they may even enjoy them! They just need to rest and recharge by themselves before they are ready to go again.
The benefits of introversion
In a society where much emphasis has been placed on talking to others, meeting people and connecting, introverts may seem rather out of place. However, that is not to say that there are no benefits in introversion.
An inner understanding
Firstly, introverts are more in tune with themselves. Now, this is not to say that extroverts don't know themselves. They certainly can.
However, since introverts tend to prefer spending time in solitude, they have a better understanding of their own likes and dislikes on a personal level. The added time gives them more room to introspect and consider, helping them make more rational judgments for themselves.
This allows introverts to be more acutely aware of their own feelings, unlike extraverts who may be swayed by others opinions more easily due to their numerous interactions with external factors.
A better understanding of oneself helps introverts in making choices that benefit themselves first, which is important in being happy.
If you've ever felt like you wanted someone who just listens, introverts are good at that. Since introverts' energy get sapped through social interactions, they often prefer to keep silent instead of speaking out at every turn and drawing attention.
At times, this may seem asocial or shy, but in turn, this makes introverts better listeners.
As a result, introverts tend to be more observant as well. Rather than focusing on the big picture of social interactions and the mood of the group, they tend to look at the minute details within the group, making sure individuals (and themselves!) feel comfortable.
A close friend
Introverts also prefer to keep smaller groups of friends as large gatherings tire them out. As a result, they will seek to be close to this group.
Unlike extroverts, who may dedicate their time and energy to various groups and activities, introverts don't have that much energy to spare. As such, the ones that they do join are the ones they are dedicated to.
As such, you can be assured that they make good friends and probably won't bail on you as much. Of course, on the other hand, if you're not as close, you probably won't receive much attention from an introvert since they have limited energy for social interactions.
As an introvert, the main benefits come from internal factors rather than external ones. Focus more on yourself, and discover what you like and dislike. This will guide you in choosing your relationships and activities.
There, play to your strengths by focusing on small groups and individual relationships. Be empathetic and supportive. Build up a support net that is small but beneficial to you.
Improving as an introvert
In our society today where extroverts get most of the benefits by having more connections, introverts have to work harder and step out of their comfort zone more.
After all, people tend to prefer those who are friendly, charismatic and outgoing. That is not to say that introverts can't do that - just that they can't sustain it for long, or at a level of intensity that extroverts can.
At the end of the day, introverts can improve on their relationships by learning to take on some extroverted traits, but stay happy by maintaining social interactions within their comfortable boundaries and frequencies.
In many relationships, the extrovert is usually the one calling the shots. This is natural; after all, they prefer being the life of the party, and hence are the ones usually initiating.
However, remember that relationships are a two way street. When making friends, people would usually choose someone who always initiates versus a person who seldom or never initiates.
This is simply because activities bond people together. By initiating, you tend to go out and do more things together, resulting in deeper bonds. Initiating is also necessary as a consistent effort to ensure that a relationship continues without simply being forgotten.
As an introvert, it can be hard to initiate since one may prefer staying alone, but for relationships that matter a lot to you, such as important friends or family, you will want to initiate more often.
Don't leave it to the extroverts - if you want to do something, and you have enough energy for social interaction, initiate!
Talk more and listen less
For extroverts, talking too much is almost an expected thing. For introverts, the opposite occurs. Sometimes, it can be tempting to just listen since we don't really know the "right thing to say".
Introverts may even prefer the quiet and simply listen to others opinions rather than make their own. However, this actually hurts in the long run.
A conversation doesn't always have to have the right thing to say. In fact, most conversations are merely filler which, as pointless as it may seem, is not.
While people may not exactly remember the specifics of a conversation, they will certainly remember you conversing with them, and the feelings associated with that conversation.
The more you converse with someone, the deeper that impression you'll leave on the person, and the longer it will last. After all, talking is one of the most important ways of socializing!
As such, if you talk too little, you'll slowly fade out of relevance in a group, which may not be what you want. Listen, yes, but try to talk more.
Recognizing your comfort level
Different introverts have varying levels of energy when it comes to social interactions. Sometimes, it may seem daunting to turn up to things like parties or large gatherings, simply because you have no energy to last through the whole thing.
As an introvert, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is recognizing how much energy you have for social interactions. What are you okay with handling? Do you get tired after a long night out, or when do you get tired?
Learning to avoid interactions that are especially draining on you and engaging in interactions that you prefer will help you be more energetic, and thus be more participative in those interactions that you do join.
Don't do it alone
It may seem tempting to just avoid many interactions, but interactions are how we gain support from other people and are very necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and good mental health.
Sometimes, introverts have to join certain interactions in order to connect more and meet more people as well.
If you have trouble mustering up the motivation and energy to go for things, going with a group of close friends make it easier.
With people that you're comfortable with, you'll use up less energy in maintaining your social image, allowing you to channel more of that energy into enjoying interactions.
Try to do it with your friends, and "recharge" for a few days before and after a tiring social activity instead of avoiding them entirely!
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be difficult, especially for introverts, but in today's society, it is almost a necessary thing to do.
What is social anxiety?
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, we all need people in our lives. People who support us, and cheer us on, and are there for us in times of need. This support net is absolutely crucial in an unforgiving world where going at it alone can be extremely daunting and tiring.
Humans are social creatures. We need other people to help us along the way.
If you find yourself avoiding people and interactions with an abnormal frequency, or have trouble interacting with others, you might have social anxiety instead of simply being introverted.
Simply put, social anxiety is the state of being anxious when around other people, strangers or otherwise. Most of the time, it comes from the fear of being judged by people.
This condition limits your ability to navigate social interactions, putting a huge roadblock in working towards healthy relationships.
Working on social anxiety
Social anxiety is different from introversion. It mostly comes from your inner thoughts placing a huge burden on you and being scared of judgment from others.
You can work on social anxiety by starting small, building up your confidence slowly in social interactions.
Focus on the present, not the future
Social anxiety mostly comes from the mind. It's always our fears that bring us down the most. Instead of focusing on the what ifs, look at the present instead. There is no rigid plan for social interactions, just go with the flow.
Sometimes, it's our past experiences that bring us down. This can come from awkward conversations, or just a general feeling of being unwanted. Most of the time, however, it's all in your head.
Any interaction is a two way street. Chances are, if you think it's awkward, the other person probably isn't doing too well at carrying the conversation either. Perhaps it's a meeting between two introverts who don't really have much energy to put into the interaction, or some other reason.
Regardless, interactions should be natural. The more you think about it, the more stoic and fake it gets. If the interactions isn't carrying well, chances are that one of you aren't doing an activity that they like, or simply aren't in the mood for it right now.
Perhaps you just don't click with that person, or you do better in groups where the pressure isn't that great to interact like it is in a one to one interaction. Either way, find the type of interaction that you're most comfortable with and just go for it!
The more you open up and the more relaxed you are in any interaction, the easier it will be for you to make more complicated and intricate interaction in the future. You just have to keep trying.
Just do it
Sometimes, we tend to overthink about many things. As we keep getting into the "what ifs" of situations, we hold ourselves back due to our fear.
The thing is, social interactions are a fluid, dynamic experience. Sure, you can plan the general activities, the locations and such, but the minute dynamics within that interaction are adaptable and subject to change.
Things like what to talk about, the mood and so on are a result of all the parties within that interaction. No one can predict the future. Rather than worry about all the possibilities that might or might not happen, it's way better to just do it.
Whatever comes, adapt to it. Relax yourself and just go for it. Some interactions may be awkward, and some may be dull, but if you keep at it and improve over time, then eventually you'll start to have fun.
Giving up before even trying is a sure way to failure. Remember, everyone needs a support net, and it's something that can only be done by yourself. Give it a try, and then keep trying. As they say, failure is the mother of success.
Find good people
In the end, we want to feel good about social interactions. If we're constantly worried about social interactions and the horrors it may bring, then there's a chance that the interaction isn't the right one for you.
Again, the convergence of social behavior is at play here - you'll want to join activities and gatherings that you actually like to maximize your chances of finding people that you'll actually enjoy being around.
The more you force yourself to do things outside of your comfort zone, the unhappier you'll get until eventually you start to dread social interactions.
Yes, sometimes, it's good to step out of your comfort zone. By experiencing new things, we will gain a better understanding of what you like and dislike. But as always, do things in moderation.
Don't force yourself to do things you don't like to do. If you have a clear idea of what you already like and dislike, then why not do the things that you like if you're able to? You'll find people that enjoy the same thing, and interactions will become less scary with a common topic.
In this part, we examined how your personality in terms of introversion or extraversion determines how you approach social interactions. Learning one or more points from the other type of personality will benefit in rounding you out as a person.
Whichever personality you have, try to play to your strengths and be acutely aware of your weaknesses. Social interactions is an important part of building up relationships for a support net.
Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you'll want to put in effort into your interactions in order to help you throughout your life.
Finally, we examined how social anxiety is different from introversion. Avoiding social interaction is not a good idea in the long term, because we need that support net as social creatures.
Slowly work on conquering your fears instead of letting them define who you are. Think of the person you want to become, and work towards that goal every single day.
In the next part, we'll examine the next part of the MBTI, sensing vs intuition. This is the way our personalities determine how we interpret information.
Next part: Coming soon!
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