Tag Archives: personality

Introverted Does Not Mean Shy

A lot of people have this misconception that introversion means shy. They often say that introverted people need to come out of their shell and socialise with others at parties. Well, take a look at this video. It’s called Body Language for Introverts. You’ll notice that I have the top comment at the moment (if you go to the YouTube page for the video). I love how one person goes on a rant about how North Americans are all extroverts, and that’s what makes North America so great and powerful.  Too bad for him many major business leaders and actors are introverts.

The video gets off to a really bad start. It equates introversion to people who have social anxieties, always having trouble figuring out what to say, or a lack of confidence.  Wrong!

I was once a shy person. Being shy means the above three things. I am not shy now. I’m still introverted, though. What introversion means is that you gain energy by doing more solitary activities, while being in a social situation drains us of energy. We need more solitary time to recharge our batteries, basically.

Let’s look at these three points Vanessa Van Edwards brings up. First, we have social anxieties. Not really, no. That’s what a shy person has. I have no problem being at a social gathering with many people around me. I just prefer to talk to people I know. I’m not nervous at all.  If I’m sitting at the side being quiet, people immediately assume there’s a problem and ask me what’s wrong. Nothing’s wrong, I’m just observing. Think of it as information gathering. I’m also studying people’s behaviour, which is extremely useful when speaking to them. I use this information to adapt how I speak with them. Extroverts tend to speak to everyone the same way. Introverts learn to adapt to different people’s behaviour, and I feel we become better communicators in deep conversation.

Second, she says introverts have trouble figuring out what to say.  Well, that hesitation that introverts have at the beginning of a conversation is usually something called “thinking.” We’d rather start off saying something that’s not inane or unimportant. We’d rather not do small talk, you see.  It’s just talking about the same thing over and over again with different people. We’ve done that conversation, so let’s move on to an actual conversation, please. When we’re in a conversation that is actually about something of substance, we don’t shut up.  Really! Take this example. When doing small talk, people will often bring up the weather.  Last night, a typhoon passed by.  In regular small talk, they might say, “Be careful tonight. There’s a typhoon coming.” “Oh, it’ll be so windy and rainy. You be careful, too.” It’s not really communicating any information that’s useful. There’s nothing being said other than acknowledging that they know the same information.  But, put me into the equation, and I say, “Yes, it should be here around 6 pm this evening. The rain is supposed to be the heaviest around midnight, but not so bad. It actually won’t be a typhoon at that time. It’ll be a tropical depression.” That then goes into a rather detailed discussion on both sides about typhoons, hurricanes, tropical storms, etc. What would have normally been a rather meaningless exchange on something we already knew turned into an information exchange that was far more meaningful.  That is how introverts like to talk. And we do talk a lot.

The third point is that she says we’re not confident.  That is complete BS.  Shy people are not confident by definition. Introverts are quite confident, especially my personality type, INTJ. We’re known for being straightforward and often a bit too blunt in what we say. We’re honest, we say what we think, and we’re confident about it. We just say it in a way that has a lot of thought behind it, rather than blurting out something that we might regret.

So, people, don’t confuse introversion with shyness. They are not the same thing. Vanessa Van Edwards does not know what an introvert is.  Take this from a real introvert: we are not shy. Quiet, yes. Shy, not all of us.

Myers-Briggs Is not Absolute

When creating a character, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is a useful tool.  However, after my previous post, I got to thinking, thanks to a comment, that the MBTI personality test does not dictate absolutely how someone behaves. It’s more of a general guideline.

For example, when I did my test, I found I was an INTJ.  But I also mentioned in the post that my ratings for each aspect were between 25 and 75%.  My strongest was the T (thinking), as I am rather logical and analytical in my decision-making.  I rarely let emotion decide for me, but sometimes I do, usually related to food.  If it has bacon, my emotional side takes over and tells my usually dominant rational side to shut up and eat.  Bacon has incredible powers.  But back to the main topic, although I do love bacon.  My weakest category was the N (intuitive).  This doesn’t mean that my intuitive side is weak, it’s just that it’s more balanced with the S (sensing) trait.  What this means is that while I am good at planning, seeing the big picture, and able to predict outcomes, I am also getting some influence from the sensing side, which means I do see the details and focus on the present.  I get the best of both worlds in that case.

When the percentages are below, it’s far less certain about what behaviours you or your characters will do.  If it’s closer to 100%, they are strongly following that aspect, but anything under, and especially closer to 0%, it’s highly unlikely that they will firmly be the type you determined them to be.

So what I’m saying is that even if you have figured out your character’s personality type, you don’t have to rely on it to dictate your character’s behaviour.  You can fudge it a bit.  Or a lot.  It’s up to you.  Just don’t rely on the indicators, because humans are flexible.  I may seem unflappable, but tempt me with bacon (or chocolate ice cream), and I will let go of my 75% thinking brain and let that 25% feeling brain take over.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Character Creation

Last year, I posted about my personality type, analysing it in detail.  I am an INTJ type personality according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  What’s interesting is how incredibly popular that post is recently.  It’s the most popular post most days so far this year.  So, I thought I’d revisit the topic.  It’s given me an idea.

When creating characters for fiction, it’s important to know their personality.  The MBTI is a useful tool for that, and can help you keep your character’s personality consistent.  There are 16 personality types, each with their own quirks and behaviours.

Click to view the full sized image.  It's quite large.  Source: Wikipedia user Jake Beech.
Click to view the full sized image. It’s quite large. Source: Wikipedia user Jake Beech.

One thing I’m going to do is test each of my main characters and see what kind of personalities they have.  It’ll be interesting, but also useful.

What I also plan to do is write posts about each personality type, describing what kind of person they are, as well as mentioning any famous people who are that type.

Head on over to this page and you can take a simplified version of the test to check out your own personality type.  But also, think about how your main character thinks.  So, in addition to yourself, answer the questions as if you were your main character.  See what kind of personality he or she has.  I’d love to see everyone’s results. Share your and your character’s personality types in the comments below. This should be fun.

Being an INTJ Immersed in Another Language

I’ve mentioned before I’m an INTJ personality type, and I’ve been living in Japan since 2005. My daily life at work is spent speaking English. My life at home is mostly English, and I concentrate on using English with my daughter always.

Well, I’ve been spending some time with the in-laws, and out of nearly 20 people, only one speaks English. I was immersed in Japanese. As there were so many people, as an INTJ, I was getting drained of energy. Imagine doing the same thing in a language I’m not fluent in? I had to concentrate on understanding and trying to answer. If you’ve ever spent time speaking a language other than your first language, it can be mentally draining. Basically, I feel sleepy.

Anyone else have to go through that experience? I think I need to really work on my Japanese.

Introversion Does Not Mean…

Shy

Being introverted doesn’t mean a person is shy.  Sure, I used to be shy when I was a kid, but I’m not now.  I’m still introverted.  Shyness implies a social awkwardness.  Shy people are very self-conscious about how they look, how they behave, and have trouble interacting with people.  Introverts are often quite comfortable being quiet listeners.  See me at a party being quiet?  I’m not being shy.  I’m just relaxing and enjoying the conversations around me.  Sure, you’re sucking my energy away, but it doesn’t mean I dislike social interaction. I actually enjoy it.

Boring

A lot of extroverts seem to think that introverts are boring, mainly because they don’t have much to say.  You should see what goes on inside our minds.  We are intense and deep thinkers.  We think about everything that goes on around us, what’s happening in the world, anything.  We have so many very thoughtful and creative ideas that we don’t know where to start.  Many of us actually have the same interests as you, we just don’t scream, shout, and laugh about it.

Follower

Some are.  But there are many introverted leaders.  Take a look here.  Abraham Lincoln was introverted.   Bill Gates is introverted.  Those are just two examples.  Introverts tend to be calm in times of stress, think their decisions through carefully, and are very good at preparation.  Sounds like a good leader to me.

Something is wrong

Introverts are normal.  We just deal with energy in a different way than extroverts.  I gain energy through reading, solitary walking, blogging, and urban exploration.  I lose energy by being at noisy parties, bars, and clubs.  If you see me sitting there not talking, but watching, nothing is wrong.  I’m just recharging.

Extroverts, do yourselves and us a favour, try to understand how we do things.  Ease yourselves into a conversation with us, and you may find that we’re quite talkative and very interesting.  That is if we like you.

Introvert Problem Checklist

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll probably know I’m an introvert.  Pulptastic recently posted a list of problems that only introverts would understand.  Well, let’s see if I understand them.

1. Practicing conversations with people you’ll never talk to.

Guilty.  I’ve done this, though I can’t tell you who I had conversations with.  They’re not real.  I guess this is kind of a way of practicing what I would say in different situations if they ever arose.

2. When you want to cut all ties to civilization but still be on the internet.

Several years ago, yes.  These days, no.  I actually like going out.  I don’t do this anymore, but I used to.

3. When your friend wants to invite more people over, and you don’t want to sound like a bad person by saying no.

Yeah.  I preferred to avoid large groups, but I found it hard to say no.  Not such a problem now.

4. When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends.

Yeah, well, I enjoyed my time alone.

5. And you fear that by doing so, you are nearing ‘hermit’ status.

I was a hermit for a while in university.  I didn’t go out except for class.

6. When your ride at a party doesn’t want to leave early, and no one seems to understand your distress.

Hasn’t happened to me before, since I tended to avoid parties.  But I guess there were times when I simply didn’t go to parties to avoid being around people I barely knew.

7. Trying to be extra outgoing when you flirt so your crush doesn’t think you hate them.

Flirt?  What’s that?  I didn’t flirt.  I was too embarrassed to do that.

8. That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.

This wasn’t a problem, to be honest…until after I worked at a call centre.  Working at a call centre made me hate talking on the phone, and I am always reluctant to answer if it’s an unknown number.

9. When you have an awesome night out, but have to deal with feeling exhausted for days after the fact.

Hasn’t happened.  I avoided big nights out.

10. People saying “Just be more social.”

This is annoying.  I don’t have that problem these days, having learned how to be more outgoing.

11. When you’re able to enjoy parties and meetings, but after a short amount of time wish you were home in your pajamas.

Yeah, this has happened. I’ve enjoyed early parts of parties, then kept watching the clock to see when it was time to go home.  This was much more common when I was a kid, and at a party my parents dragged me to.  I just wanted to leave.

12. Staying up late every night because it’s the only time that you can actually be alone.

Yes! And it seems like some people just don’t understand this.  Like my daughter.  She just won’t go to bed.

13. People making you feel weird for wanting to do things by yourself.

Yeah.  Seeing movies, eating in restaurants, things like that.  I did that alone, and I felt awkward when people looked at me.

14. Having more conversations in your head than you do in real life.

I do have a lot of conversations in my head.  Isn’t that normal?  I get lost in my own thoughts a lot, but I tend to figure out a lot of things that way, especially with my writing.

15. The need to recharge after social situations.

Absolutely.  They drain me.

16. People calling you out for day dreaming too much.

Not really.  I’ve always been quite alert and aware of everything going on around me.  I’ve never been a daydreaming introvert.  I’m an observational introvert.

17. Carrying a book to a public place so no one will bug you, but other people take that as a conversation starter.

It happened!  I was reading an astronomy magazine when I was in university, and a woman came up to me to tell me how beautiful the universe is and that God was so wonderful.  I felt awkward and excused myself.

18. People interrupting your thoughts, and you get irrationally angry.

Not really.  I cope with that well.

19. Having to say “I kind of want to spend some time by myself” when you have to deal with that friend that always wants to hang out.

I haven’t really had a friend like that, to be honest.  But I did sometimes turn down invitations because I had “plans.”

20. When you’re asked to do a group project, and know that you’re going to hate every minute of it.

This is the story of every science experiment in junior high and high school I’ve done.  I was the top science student in my grade, and I really detested it when mediocre and scientifically impaired classmates tried to tell me how the experiments are really done.  They were ignoring the instructions.  I made sure to let the teacher know that they were doing it wrong, but here’s the interpretation of the data we gathered.  I always got top marks despite my partners’ mistakes.

21. When you hear the question “Wanna hang out?”, and your palms start to sweat with anxiety.

Not really.

22. When you hear, “Are you OK?” or “Why are you so quiet?” for the umpteenth time.

I got this so much.  It was incredibly irritating.  Yes, I am OK.  I’m quiet because that’s just how I am.  I’m a listener, not a speaker.

23. Having visitors stay with you is a nightmare, because it means you have to be on at ALL TIMES.

Not a problem when it’s family.  Maybe I just get along with my family.

24. When people stop inviting you places because you’re the one that keeps canceling plans.

I don’t cancel.

25. Being horrified of small talk, but enjoying deep discussions.

I’m not horrified of small talk, I just find it awkward.  Deep discussions are amazing, though.  Love them.

26. When you need to take breaks and recharge after socializing for too long.

Yup.  I tended to withdraw at social gatherings and just listen from time to time.  But it wasn’t all the time.  I regained some energy and socialised again.

27. The requirement to think introspectively rather than go to someone else with your problems.

Yeah, I usually figured out any problem I had by myself.  Maybe this had more to do with pride, as I was always figuring out everything by myself in school.  That is, except when I had a bully.  I went for help then.

28. Not wanting to be alone, just wanting to be left alone. And people not understanding that.

I don’t really like being alone.  I hated it when I was single.  However, I have always needed time to be left alone.  This does not mean I’m being antisocial, it means I’m recharging.  And I need time alone to get lost in thought about various topics.

29. When people mistake your thoughtful look for being shy, or worse, moody.

This has happened.  But when I was a kid, I really was shy.  These days, people think I’m always very calm and quiet.  I’m usually deep in thought at those times.

30. That people need to know that you aren’t mad, depressed or anti-social. You just need to not talk to anyone for a while. And that’s okay.

Absolutely.  It is not being antisocial.  Being alone for a while means I’m getting my very important recharge time.  Being an introvert, I gain energy while I’m alone.

While some of these don’t apply to me, I can understand them all.  For those of you who are introverts, what do you think?  And for those of you who are extroverts, can you understand?

INTJ – An Analysis of My Personality

I have an INTJ type personality. This is one of the 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI. It’s also one of the rarest types, with only 1-2% of the population.  Thanks to 61 Musings, I was reminded of this test that I took in junior high school, and took the short version of the test to verify my type.  It’s still the same.

So, what do all these letters mean in the test?  This infographic gives a good idea about what each personality is like, as well as what each letter means.

Click to view the full sized image.  It's quite large.  Source: Wikipedia user Jake Beech.
Click to view the full sized image. It’s quite large. Source: Wikipedia user Jake Beech.

Let’s look at my personality type, INTJ.  The top right box is mine, and it says I’m innovative, independent, strategic, logical, reserved, and insightful.  I’m driven by my own original ideas to achieve improvements.  It seems to describe me quite well.  I am very independent, and I’m always thinking about things logically.  In social situations, I’m pretty reserved, but I was much more reserved when I was younger.  It’s still my default.  Now, let’s look at each individual letter.

I – Introversion

  • Could be described as reserved, private – Absolutely me.  I tend to be a fairly private person, though not excessively so.  I tend to share a lot more than I used to.
  • Prefer a slower pace with time for contemplation – It really depends.  I do a lot of things in a day, so I do things at a quick pace.  However, I tend to prefer to be in a quiet place that allows me to spend time to look at things or study.  I don’t like to be rushed.
  • Tend to think things through inside your head – I do this a lot.  I analyse things in my head.  I visualise quite a bit, and I can figure out problems in my head both visually and logically.
  • Would rather observe than be the centre of attention – This is very true.  I would prefer to avoid attention, and I certainly was like this when I was younger.  However, with my job as a teacher, I am often the centre of attention.  But at a party, I’ll sit at the side and talk with just my friends.

N – Intuition

  • Imagine the possibilities of how things could be – I often think through possible outcomes in the future.  I also imagine what things will be like in the future in general, likely giving me an interest in science fiction.  However, I do also like doing the sensing side of things, focusing on the reality of how things are.  I tend to do both.
  • Notice the big picture, see how everything connects – I do see the big picture a lot.  I see the details, as well, but how they connect with everything else.  I’m good with maps and I can visualise large-scale systems.
  • Enjoy ideas and concepts for their own sake – This would relate to theoretical sciences, and that’s certainly true.  I also like knowledge of any kind, as I have broad interests.  I do like practical uses, but I also like everything else.
  • Like to describe things in a figurative, poetic way – I like fiction.  I like writing fiction.  This sure fits me.  The other option is telling things how they are.  I do this as well, especially because of my scientific education.

T – Thinking

  • Make decisions in an impersonal way, using logical reasoning – Absolutely true for me.  I am very analytical when looking at the choices, and I choose the option that is most logical.  Call me a Vulcan.  I don’t like relying on feelings to make my decisions.  I’m not impulsive.
  • Value justice, fairness – Definitely yes.  I strongly dislike injustices being made.  I observe what’s going on in the world today, and I feel disgusted by a lot of it.
  • Enjoy finding the flaws in an argument – I do this a lot.  In my personal life, it can even make people angry with me because I find their argument completely illogical.
  • Could be described as reasonable, level-headed – I like to think so.  I don’t make unreasonable arguments.

J – Judging

  • Prefer to have matters settled – Yes.  I don’t like to leave things open.  So I strive to find out more and get to the bottom of things.  This is very useful in terms of science, because I’m driven to find the answer.  It also makes me incredibly curious about things.  I love learning new things that’ll lead me to a conclusion.
  • Think rules and deadlines should be respected – I find them to be reasonable.  When I see someone disobeying the rules, I feel kind of dirty knowing that they’re breaking the rules.  And this also means that the rule enforcers should also follow the rules.  They are not above them.
  • Prefer to have detailed, step-by-step instructions – Yes!  I actually like reading instruction manuals for games. But for any procedure, I want everything detailed so I don’t leave anything out.  I am very careful this way.  This is also extremely important when doing science experiments.  Everything must be followed exactly as described.
  • Make plans, want to know what you’re getting into – Notice how I often write about my reading lists?  I like to plan out what I’m going to read.  My sister was just in Japan, and I enjoyed making plans with her.

Much of this is pretty accurate for me.  In some cases, I do find that I agree with some aspects of the opposite personality trait, such as Sensing.  I guess I see things in both ways.  But you see, with these personality types, you usually aren’t 100% within each of these aspects.  Everyone is a mix of personality types.  I didn’t take down the percentages, but they were between 25 and 75% for each aspect.

If you’re curious about your own personality type, you can take the quick and free test here.  When you’re done, leave a comment with your personality type.  I’m very interested to see the results (as you should probably now be able to guess after reading this post).