Are You Wired?
January 5, 2013 18 Comments
I’ve been having a good bit of discussion on social networks (public and private) about this whole introvert/extrovert issue, and unfortunately, 140-character tweets and Facebook updates make it hard to paint a good picture.
So, here’s a rambling follow-up to my blog post of yesterday (Weigh Yourself on this Introvert/Extrovert Scale).
The question we keep bumping into, and that I’d like us all to think through together is this: what is innate wiring, vs. what is situational behavior?
Now, I believe that when it comes to Introversion/Extroversion, we have innate wiring that puts us somewhere along a continuum – and that the distinguishing feature is our personal source of psychic fuel (internal, within ourselves; or external, from other people).
(larger version – click thumbnail to biggify)
I would put myself squarely at the “In” place in the scale. You?
So, here, I’m theorizing an orientation – a default setting, an internal wiring, a preferred mode of interacting with people and the world. This wiring may change in small ways over time but will remain in one camp or the other – primarily introvert-ish or primarily extrovert-ish. Because this is DNA-level stuff (so I think, anyway).
On the other hand, there is (situational) behavior. An introvert can appear to be more extrovert-ish in some settings, and vice-versa, but for the moment, let’s not call this being an extroverted introvert – because if this is a DNA-level trait, then you cannot really be both. Let’s call it being an outgoing Introvert (at times), or a contemplative Extrovert (at times). That doesn’t really change your default wiring/identity/DNA, it’s just that certain situations bring out skills and behaviors that are more inward- or outward-facing. Your primary fuel source remains the same.
So – I’m an introvert. Always have been, always will be. It’s in my DNA. But I’m far more comfortable in social settings than I used to be (acquired behavior) – I can appear to be situationally Extrovert-ish (except in small, dark, crowded, noisy settings – those, I run from!). Nonetheless, though I can engage well in one-on-one social interactions, though I can present to crowds, though I can pro-actively network – my source of fuel is still inward.
And I’ll probably never enjoy mingling and making small talk in crowds. I guess I’m finally at peace with that!
I can also imagine that there are extroverts who can work alone as consultants, think and analyze contemplatively, and exhibit other introvert-ish behaviors – but, still, they MUST have more people time to re-energize. It’s in the DNA. They’re not introverted extroverts, they’re extroverts whose circumstances require more alone time.
OK – your turn. Does this distinction make sense? Agree? Disagree? The comments are yours!