Introversion and Extraversion differences offer lots of room for misunderstanding and conflict. To the unaware or opposite-preference mind, Extraversion can look like loud-mouthed, over-the-top, talk-too-much noise. Introversion can look like shyness, withholding information, or aloofness.
She's so loud! He's so shy!
Introversion and Extraversion differences offer lots of room for misunderstanding and conflict. To the unaware or opposite-preference mind, Extraversion can look like loud-mouthed, over-the-top, talk-too-much noise. Introversion can look like shyness, withholding information, or aloofness. I'm going to go on a limb and say that most people with Extraversion preferences don't steamroll anyone or monopolize any conversation on purpose, and that Introverts don't intentionally keep quiet or exclude themselves from group processes. Many Introverts I know will only contribute something to a group conversation if they have something new to add.
Origins of Extraversion and Introversion
When Jung first discovered and studied these different attitudes to dealing with the world, he was talking about the direction of mental or "psychic" energy. Here are some paragraphs from his 1928 publication, A Psychological Theory of Types:
"My profession has always obliged me to take account of the peculiarities of individuals, and the special circumstance that in the course of I don't know how many years I have had to treat innumerable married couples and have been faced with the task of making husband and wife plausible to each other has emphasized the need to establish certain average truths. How many times, for instance, have I not had to say: "Look here, your wife has a very active nature, and it cannot be expected that her whole life should centre on housekeeping."
He goes on to say that during his many years in practice, he observed active and passive natures, who either seemed to jump in or reflect first:
"(...) there is a whole class of men who, at the moment of reaction to a given situation, at first draw back a little as if with an unvoiced "No," and only after that are able to react; and there is another class who, in the same situation, come out with an immediate reaction, apparently quite confident that their behavior is self-evidently right. The former class would therefore be characterized by a negative relation to the object, and the latter by a positive one."
Different ways of dealing with the world
What this means in every-day terms is that in the first instance of being presented with something or someone new, Introverts are more likely to take some energy inward, perhaps recalling previous situations (introverted Sensing), activating the sixth sense for hidden messages (introverted Intuiting), categorizing information (introverted Thinking), or checking with their own values (introverted Feeling).
Extraverts, on the other hand, may be more likely to focus their energy on the object or person, perhaps fully experiencing the moment (extraverted Sensing), finding patterns and possibilities (extraverted Intuiting), bringing order to the pieces (extraverted Thinking), or harmonizing and finding common areas (extraverted Feeling).
So - next time you invite someone to a party and they don't really want to go, perhaps they have preferences for introversion and would rather spend an evening with you alone or in a smaller group setting, because too many new people to meet and interact with may be overwhelming. And next time you're having dinner with someone and they keep looking around at other diners, maybe they have preferences for extraversion which means they're drawn to stimuli from the outside world, because they enjoy having things to react to.
Image by Suburban Prairie, flickr, Creative Commons License