Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Please let me be

I have many introverted friends. Many I love dearly.
I am not one of them. Extraversion is my preference.
When they, on many occasions, extravert with gusto, I am thrilled and sit in awe as they take over a room, work it, squeeze it, toss it up, let it fall, then rework it all over again.
Fabulous.
When they are done, one thing I never do is sidle up to them and ask: "You all right? Wow, such a performance. You're not ill, are you? Is everything all right? You sure? Have I upset you, intimidated you? There's nothing wrong, is there?"
Why would there be?
It's clear:
- they are with friends
- they feel comfortable
- they feel confident
- they enjoy the rush
Ok, what is my point?
Good question.
It sometimes takes me time.
Some of these friends, in particular those very close to me, if I happen to introvert for a period, an hour, or more, or a week, ask me: "Are you ok? Is there something wrong? Have I done something to upset you? Are you upset about something I said?"
If there is nothing wrong, and for the most part there is not, I reply: "No, I'm introverting. From time to time I need a break. I cannot extravert, constantly, each and every day, forever, without a break. And this is me, doing it, introverting, which means I go quiet, I go inside myself, reflect, think before I speak, you may know about such things. And I like doing it. Gaining more and more confidence each time I do it. It is not my natural preference. It will not last. But I like it. Please let me do it."
Phew.
Recently I finished writing a book, an adult novel, this required much introversion with accompanying reflection and associated research.
In order to write this I had to withdraw, almost completely for periods of intense writing, and I lost count of the number of time I was asked: "Are you sure you are all right?"
Now, when asked, I burst into song:
I am all right
There is nothing wrong
I'm happy
Happy as hell
And leaving for a light meal
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh how I need to eat
All to the tune of Leaving on a jet plane, the Peter Paul and Mary hit.
It seems to do the trick.
Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Have you considered the possibility that this type of behaviour from people diagnosed as introverted by MBTI actually disproves the validity of MBTI itself? At very least is suggests that human behaviour is more complex than what can be captured in a personality profile test.

Putting people in boxes like INTJ or ENFP, I believe, lacks any sort of robust scientific basis but also creates the false impression that personality is not a dynamic and rich expression of a person's interaction with the world around them.

I know that there are some semi-reasonable uses of these tests, however. They can be used as a non-confrontational way of starting a conversation about the way we view ourselves and how we feel that we interact with others. Even under those circumstances, however, any number of personality quizzes or astrology profiles can be used as similar tools with the same scientific validity behind them (ie none). This view, I believe, is confirmed by the Forer Effect.

Additionally, I think that the place where the most damage can be done is the use of these types of tests in a recruitment setting... Particularly when the recruiter tells the candidate that "there are no right or wrong answers". This is clearly a lie to the candidate, which I view as being unethical. I've written about this in my blog http://hypotheticorp.org/wp/think/lies/ .

Feel free to visit and join the debate!