Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Introvert Extravert thing

I’ve held out as long as I can.

It’s been a week.

Long enough.

Here I go. Stay with me.

My partner, who I refer to as Hildegard, because she is an introvert and considers her life to be a private matter, has been living alone in a house we are trying to sell.

I, on the other side of the dichotomy, am an extrovert who considers that most of his life belongs to whoever will listen, have been living in the other house, the one we are attempting to move into. This house is set up high on a hill in Albany, a delightful town on the southern tip of Western Australia.

This house, the one I’m in right now, the one in the hills outside Perth (we always seem to live on a hill), is surrounded by trees.

When I arrived late last week, it was dark and I could not see the broad brush of the outer world, just the few branches caught in the house lights. When I awoke, the next morning, I did as I always do and pulled back the blinds from the bedroom windows.

“Wow, look at that? How long has that been down?”
“You can’t see?”
“The huge gap in the sky?”
“What are you talking about?”
“The tree, the big wattle, it’s not there, the sky is open, it’s all blue, didn’t you notice?”
“Oh, I never look out there when you're not home?”
“Hey? But you pull the blinds?”
“No. I leave them closed all day.”

Well, you could have pushed me down and around the block with a toothpick.

Sure, she is an introvert, we have known that for years and, yes, I am extroverted, but to have no need to view the outer world, to be content with the inside of a room and not even to let in daylight, this astounded me. I was shocked. I moved quickly through the house and pulled every blind, opened every door, looked out every window. It seemed to make no difference to Hildegard, had no impact, no offence was caused, so it was not that the outer world intimidated her, it was just that without me, she had no need of it.

And, inside, where I sometimes go, I secretly wished I could do the same, not every day, but sometimes, like, for example, when working on the next novel.

Friday, February 01, 2008

It happens

(This is another transfer, from the other blog, which is now not what it was, to this blog, which is. I think I know what I mean.)

I didn't know her. We'd never met.
A Noongar (West Australian indigenous people of the South West) friend rang to say I should meet her, that she was a New York writer staying in West Australia to research a book on local painters belonging to the Carrolup School..
He passed the phone to her. We spoke. Nothing much happened, I sounded too Australian, she too American, but we agreed she would visit for an evening meal.
When she arrived I was cooking. I went to the front door, opened it, looked at her and something happened. It kept happening.
She stayed a week and in that time we talked about her Buddhist beliefs and my partner and I mentioned Carl Jung and she asked if she could take the MBTI® questionnaire.
It took no time at all for all of us to agree, she was an Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver, ENFP, just like me, just as chaotic, just as distracted and, probably, even more disorganized.
Once we got talking life stories, you can imagine, so many parallels.
At the end of the week, as she drove away, she said: "I feel like I've found family."
So did we.
My partner, an Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging (ISTJ) type was enraptured in a version of me in another physical form and culture.
These things happen. People click. Sometimes completed opposites.
For folk who are alike at their core, a confirmation of innate similarities can add depth and a connectedness to relationships.
It's wonderful when it happens.
Sometimes the opposite occurs: you don't click, you clack.
And sometimes you discover that the person has the same profile.
The question to ask yourself then is: Am I seeing in her/him all the things I don't like about myself?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A wish .....

“If anything characterizes the 21st century, it’s our inability to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people,” said James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University.

Some time ago I attended a conference where a small group of people were unable to restrain themselves and the above quote rang a loud bell.
At this conference some delegates wore their Type Profiles like badges of honour and it had me longing for a bit of old fashioned good manners and common courtesy.
Indeed, given we all had our profiles on our badges, it obviously made the journey from "badge" to "badge of honour" so much easier for those who wanted to wear it

It lead me to think: Wouldn't it be nice if certain types, indeed all types, could leave their Type badges in the corridor before they entered the lecture, or workshop venue.
Well, I have noticed during a number of Personality Type conferences that facilitators are often waylaid by attendees who demand recognition of their type and demand "Type Rights".
For example:
- an Extravert demanding to speak, whenever on whatever
- a Sensing Thinking Judging type demanding structure and time-lines
- an iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving type demanding free-form and hugs
And it happened to me.
That's when it all came home.
I was facilitating what I imagined to be a cool, laid back gathering of my peers, when I was suddenly, from the rear of the room, gang-attached by a marauding mob of STJs (sensing thinking judgers).
It was fun at first, then it turned serious.
It all reminded me of the other facilitators I had witnessed being trapped in similar circumstance and I thought: How bloody selfish and self centred can you get?
Many I know attend conferences in sponge mode, believing the best way to get the best out of any session is to absorb the material, however it is delivered, and to encourage the facilitator to give as much as he or she can.
In the case of an iNtuitive Thinker, this might mean a bloody good challenge, or not, because being an NT does not mean you are forever in NT, stuck there until you kark it.
If a person is who they are and that is all they have ever been and all they will ever be and they are stuck there with so concept of movement, of change, of exploring the other sides of their preferences, or of what Jung called Individuation, fine, but could it would be nice if they allowed the rest of us to flex, to shift, to shake, to move on.

[The above quote came from the New York Times, an article by MATT RICHTEL.

Published: November 4, 2007. Read it in full here: NYT.]

Getting to a point (or not)

This blog first appeared in The West Australian, as one of my weekly columns. Then I posted it on another blog, one where I put all my weekly columns. Then I posted it on another blog which has since changed its brief and, so, in order to keep it alive, I post it here. If you have read it previously, on another blog, sorry, go have a cuppa while someone else runs their eye over it.

It’s an inconvenient truth, but we’re all different.

When I’m not writing this column, I work with a number of psychological models, all of them based on the work of a Swiss bloke called Carl Gustav Jung.

Jung, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, was for many years a great mate of Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and father of psychotherapy.

They had a helluva time in the beginning, lots of hi-teas and late night conversations, but then Jung went and wrote a couple of books Freud didn’t appreciate, or understand, or the pages were stuck together. I can’t remember.

Jung also made up his own mind about a couple of things Freud was very keen on and one day blurted out: “Oedipus, smedipus, give it a break, Siggy.”

Or something like that. Or nothing like that but whatever it was it was the end of their relationship.

All these models I work with are based on Jung’s book, Personality Types, first published in German in 1921.

When I’m not hard at it thumping words into keyboards, that’s what I do, not that I need to work, of course, because this column, as you can imagine, pays a lot of money, more than enough to pay the mortgage, the small loan on the other property, the big loan on the private jet, send all the kids to private schools and make sizeable contributions towards the International Monetary Fund debts of several South American nations.

One of the characteristics of a person with my particular profile is that we are easily distracted and tend to go on a bit in a way that seems to have very little to do with the point we are trying to make. Have you noticed?

Now, the beauty of a simple psychological mode is that it helps you come to grips with the fact that there is a kind of mind that will answer the simple question “How much are you paid to write that crap?” with a simple answer: “$50”.

What the model helps you realise is that most minds you interact with operate differently and people are not being the way they are in order to intimidate you, or incite you, it’s just the way they are.

Then again, some folk just can’t help being pricks, whatever their personality types.

Then there is another kind of mind, like the one I mentioned earlier, that will seem to disappear into a surreal world of crazy references, contradictions and weird juxtapositions, when all you wanted was a simple: “$50.”

You might have guessed by now, mine is a bit like that.

So is Terry Gilliam’s, the film director of Brazil, Baron Munchausen and the creator of the graphics for Monty Python. So was John Lennon’s. And Bill Cosby’s.

The strait forward mind, very much like the one my dad had, sees everything for what it is, nothing more, or less.

Hildegard has a mind like that too and often I would take a phone call from dad to be told: “Put your wife on will you. I need to talk some sense.”

The problem is, of course, those people with the seemingly crazy mind think the people with the strait-forward mind are boring and those with the strait-forward mind think those with the crazy mind have overdosed on some mind altering substance.

So, you can see why dad and I didn’t see mind to mind.

Mind you, he had a great sense of humour, and once said to a Manjimup Shire Officer who told him he couldn’t write on the pavement: “Didn’t I pay half the cost of this pavement? Right. Well the top half’s mine and the bottom half’s yours.”

Dad and Hildegard were pretty much aligned in most aspects of their personalities, but, at the same time, they were very different. Why? Good question.

Well, for a start, Hildy is a woman and dad was a man and dad was a born and raised Aussie, whereas Hildy was born and raised in Holland.

So, from time to time, if you have been reading this column and heard yourself saying “I wish he’d get to the bloody point”, it might be that you are not like me and need a point, while my point might be that I don’t.