Yesterday and Today: Introverted vs. Extraverted Sensing

Child stopping to smell the rosesWriters often get lost in their heads. If they didn’t, they might never get any work done. But for those with a preference for introversion and intuition, it can be difficult to reconnect with the real world. I suspect that writers in general, and IN types in particular, suffer from chronic sensory deprivation. We have to make an effort to interrupt our writing and indulge our senses.

To stay grounded, I keep crayons near my computer so I can play with color combinations. I have a pack of gum on my desk for calorie-free flavor. I burn scented candles and listen to music. These little things offer me a much-needed reality break.

INFJs like me extravert their sensing function. Extraverted sensing experiences the world in all its vibrancy. It sifts through sensory data and identifies what is most relevant and most critical in the current situation. It seizes opportunities as they present themselves. It troubleshoots and seeks a tactical advantage. It wants immediate gratification.

By contrast, introverted sensing relates the present situation Continue reading “Yesterday and Today: Introverted vs. Extraverted Sensing”

Dreamcatchers: Introverted vs. Extraverted Intuition

Japanese fan unfoldedThe protagonist in my novel-in-progress is an ENFP. With her dominant extraverted intuition, she’s constantly looking for new possibilities. A defense lawyer, she’s driven by a desire to help her clients make a better life. Her concept of reality is fluid: she moves effortlessly between what is and what could be. She can entertain contradictory ideas at the same time. She  envisions many different ways in which a scenario could play out. Before she makes a decision, she consults her family and friends to winnow her ideas.

In some ways, my protagonist is my alter ego. I’m an INFJ, so my dominant function is introverted intuition. Introverted intuition is also fueled by possibility. But unlike extraverted intuition, it seeks to build a unified internal vision, then make that vision a reality. I understand the world by looking for connections, by taking seemingly disparate ideas and combining them. I’m excited by those “aha” moments when I find the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle and the picture becomes clear. I zealously pursue my new understanding and seek to incorporate it into my life. Like ENFPs, I also see reality as fluid, but I limit myself to adopting one version of it. I find too many choices to be immobilizing. I generally make decisions on my own, or I may consult one other person if I’m really struggling.

To my mind, extraverted intuition is like opening a Japanese fan, and introverted intuition is like closing it. Introverted intuition looks at all the possibilities and homes in on the one likely to produce the best outcome. Extraverted intuition starts with a single point then fans out, pulling ideas from all directions.

All types use intuition, including those who prefer sensing. Types with an NJ or SP preference have introverted intuition, while those with an NP or SJ preference use extraverted intuition. When intuition is not in the dominant position, it plays a supporting role, bringing a new perspective to old ideas.

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Straight from the Heart: Introverted vs. Extraverted Feeling

Like many people with a preference for intuition and thinking, my husband doesn’t quite grasp the concept of greeting cards. They’re just pieces of paper with other people’s sentiments printed on them, right? Logically, I see his point. But with my preference for intuition and feeling, I place a lot of value on the symbolism of greeting cards (and on the symbolism of not giving a loved one a greeting card for a special occasion).

Given my INFJ preference, I communicate with the world through extraverted feeling, which focuses on building and maintaining relationships and social networks. I love giving greeting cards, and I especially enjoy blank cards that allow me to write my own message rather than adding my signature to someone else’s. When I receive greeting cards, I read them eagerly. But after a few days, I throw them out. The emotion has been expressed and received, so the card has served its purpose.

My husband, on the other hand, keeps the greeting cards he receives—sometimes for years. And he doesn’t stick them in a drawer somewhere. He displays them where he can see them and read them.

As an INTJ, my husband introverts his feeling function. Introverted feeling focuses on values, integrity, and appropriateness. It’s  less expressive but more sentimental than extraverted feeling. So even though my husband may not think to give greeting cards, the ones he receives are special to him.

So I try not to get upset if he doesn’t give me a card for a birthday or anniversary. The fact that he values the cards I give him tells me all I need to know.

Want to know if your feeling function is introverted or extraverted? TJs and FPs have introverted feeling, while FJs and TPs use extraverted feeling.

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What’s in a Name? Introverted vs. Extraverted Thinking

Personality type affects how we communicate, sometimes in unexpected ways. When talking about the MBTI personality types, people generally think in terms of the preferences. But everyone uses all four cognitive functions, including the nonpreferred ones. And personality type is affected by whether the function is introverted or extraverted.

My husband is an INTJ, while I’m and INFJ. He communicates with the world through extraverted thinking, while my thinking function is introverted. Here’s a typical conversation we might have on a weekend.

Hubby: Want to go with me to the hardware store?
Me: Which one?
Hubby: The blue one.
Me: You mean Lowe’s?
Hubby: I guess so.

I used to find it incredibly frustrating that he seemed to pay little attention to the names of things. After all, isn’t it possible that there’s more than one blue hardware store? How could I be sure which one he meant without knowing the name?

He, on the other hand, considers names extraneous, and often difficult to remember. Names, he says, get in the way. They create barriers between ideas. For instance, it’s clear what the relationship is between “the blue hardware store” and “the orange hardware store.” Calling them “Lowe’s” and “Home Depot” obscures that connection.

Introverted thinking is all about classifying things. It likes to give them names and put them in little boxes. Extraverted thinking is more conceptual. It looks at how things relate to one another. So while introverted thinking focuses on separating things into their unique parts, extraverted thinking focuses on organizing things into a unified whole.

Given my introverted thinking function, I can’t understand something until I put a name on it. Until I could articulate that my husband thinks in terms of “concepts,” while I think in terms of “names,” I had a devil of a time comprehending his aversion to calling things by the same words everyone else uses. Now, I can enjoy his innovative use of language—for instance, calling the wisteria bush “the hysterical bush” because it grows out of control. The name fits the concept.

Wondering whether your thinking function is introverted or extraverted? FJ and TP types have introverted thinking, while FP and TJ and types have extraverted thinking.

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Punctuation and Personality Type in Fiction

In his blog post The Great Semi-Colon Debate, author James Scott Bell says that semicolons should be avoided in fiction. I agree to a point, but I wouldn’t ban them altogether. If used skillfully, semicolons can reveal character in dialogue and internal monologue.

In my own fiction writing, I associate certain punctuation marks with the speech patterns of certain personality types. These aren’t hard rules, of course. But here’s my list of punctuation marks and the personality types that go with them.

Semicolons: INPs

INFPs and INTPs communicate with the world through extraverted intuition. Intuition naturally sees all ideas as connected. But as introverts, the INPs think before they speak. This combination of tendencies leads to sentences that are long but carefully constructed; the semicolon is the best punctuation mark to communicate this quality.

Comma splices: ENPs

Continue reading “Punctuation and Personality Type in Fiction”

Temperament and Leadership: One NF’s View

coffee breakAn article on the OKA website is titled, What, and Where, Is Power? A Look at Leadership through the Temperament Lens. I read the article with some surprise. It seemed spot-on for all the temperaments except mine—the NFs (Idealists). The article refers to NFs as “The People People.” This is out of step with how I see myself as a very highly expressed introvert. The article focuses on the NF’s feeling preference but does not, in my opinion, give enough attention to the intuition preference.

Granted, the two extraverted types in this temperament (ENFJs and ENFPs) may indeed be “people people.” Perhaps even the INFPs, with their dominant introverted feeling, might fit that description. But INFJs, like me, with dominant introverted intuition? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong. INFJs are intensely interested in people. We find them to be fascinating subjects of study. Our dominant intuition focuses on concepts and patterns relating to human behavior. But our interest in personal relationships is generally limited to family and a small circle of close friends. If coworkers become friends, that’s great. But we don’t seek it out. A business environment isn’t conducive to the deep emotional connections that INFJs find meaningful. We’re happy to maintain businesslike relationships. We don’t expect that everyone we work with will like us, nor do we expect to like everyone we work with.

NFs seek harmony in their professional relationships, as in all relationships. They prefer a business environment that is collaborative rather than competitive. As leaders, NFs foster personal growth rather than the zero-sum game that competition engenders. NF leaders genuinely care about the well-being of those on their team and want to help them build their skills and improve their performance. They’re likely to acknowledge when someone does well and to offer encouragement when someone is unsure how to proceed. And if things go badly, NF leaders are unlikely to criticize; instead, they’ll look for mentorship opportunities and examine the environment for obstacles to success.

Mere “compliments” or “a pat on the back” may be regarded by many NFs (particularly the introverts) as hollow and insincere—and in fact, they can be demotivating for some NFs. The perfectionist INFJs and INFPs strive to perform well as a matter of personal integrity. To be complimented by their manager in front of their peers can be mortifying and can undermine their accomplishment in their eyes. Singling out one person, when the entire team is working hard, can demoralize others—and NFs know this. They don’t want to be praised. They want to be consulted. To show that you respect their abilities, ask for their expertise.

NF leaders exercise power by harnessing the abilities of their team. Their feeling preference focuses their attention on meeting the needs of their employees, while their intuitive preference drives them to constantly look for ways that everyone on the team (including themselves) can improve. They respect the individual while working for the common good—and they expect their employees to do the same.

Looking for more information on temperament and leadership? The Keisey.com website offers articles on getting along with your boss, based on temperament. The site also offers articles on presenting to a boss with a different temperament than yours.

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion

cafeIn my last three posts, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving, Thinking/Feeling, and Sensing/Intuition dimensions of personality affect our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Extraversion/Introversion dimension. This scale measures whether we’re oriented inwardly or outwardly. In a writing project, it affects the environment we prefer to write in.

Extraverts gain energy from the outside world of people, objects, and events. They develop their ideas by talking with others. Extraverts tend to enjoy active and even noisy environments. They prefer to jump into the writing project and experiment with different approaches. They might use a conversational style during their first draft, which they may need to modify as appropriate for the subject matter. During revision, they require a quiet environment so they can focus on the task without distraction.

Introverts gain energy from the internal world of thoughts, concepts, and reactions. They prefer to begin a project by contemplating their ideas in a quiet environment. While conducting research, they may pause often to consider how the material relates to their project. They will likely jot down ideas and construct a rough outline in their head before they begin the first draft. Introverts are generally able to concentrate deeply and block out distractions. However, they don’t like interruptions when they’re lost in thought, so they work best in an isolated spot. During revision, introverts should seek feedback from a peer to ensure that what’s on paper (or the computer screen) accurately reflects what’s in their head.

Image courtesy of trublueboy.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

jigsaw puzzle autumn treeIn my last two posts, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving and Thinking/Feeling dimensions of personality affect our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Sensation/Intuition dimension. This scale measures how we gather information. In a writing project, it affects what content we prefer to present.

Sensing types are motivated to write by a desire to report information that serves a practical purpose. They want a specific writing goal and a clear path to achieving it. They follow approaches that have worked well in the past, building on existing knowledge. They tend to move in a linear way from start to finish. They try to present details accurately and focus on the practical aspects of the topic. They’re straightforward and action-oriented. During revision, sensing types should ensure that they’ve provided context and a unifying theme to tie the details together.

Intuitive types are motivated to write by a desire to express new insights. They want a general idea of the project goals so they can plan their own approach. They try to bring a unique angle to each project. They tend to jump around as they write, letting one idea suggest another. They’re more interested in how the facts interrelate than they are in the facts themselves. They enjoy complexity and abstract theories. During revision, intuitive types should ensure that they give enough specific details to ground their work in reality.

In an upcoming post, I’ll explore how the Extraversion/Introversion dimension of personality affects our energy to write.

Image courtesy of chadou99.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling

Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling

contemplative loversIn a previous post, I examined how the Judging/Perceiving dimension of personality affects our mental energy when we approach a writing project. In this post, I look at the Thinking/Feeling dimension. This scale measures the criteria we use to make decisions. In a writing project, it affects how we prefer to present the content.

Thinking types are motivated by a desire for clarity. They excel at relating factual information. They take the role of dispassionate observer and make their points through a logical unfolding of ideas. Thinking types focus on content and organization. With a systematic approach, they use critical analysis to dispel misconceptions and present new material. During revision, thinking types should ensure that they provide enough background material and explain why the subject is relevant to the reader.

Feeling types are motivated by a desire to connect with others. They excel at using writing to forge relationships. Feeling types look for a way to personally invest themselves in their subject. They include anecdotes to illustrate their points. They focus on expression and a sense of flow. With audience needs foremost in their mind, feeling types soften their arguments to create a sense of unity. During revision, feeling types should ensure accuracy and add facts to support their perspective.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition

Energy to Write: Judgment vs. Perception

black and whiteAs with all creative exercises, a writing project requires sustained mental energy to take it to conclusion. Different personality types derive their energy in different ways. The Judging/Perceiving dimension of personality measures whether a person prefers closure or open-endedness. This affects how we approach a project at all stages, and what factors drive us toward completion.

Judging types like to begin a new project right away. This helps them develop a feel for the scope of the project and how long it’s going to take. Judging types don’t like surprises, and they want to be sure they have enough time to finish a project before the deadline. They determine what resources are needed and what steps are involved. They develop a primary plan and a contingency plan. They pad the schedule to prepare for the unexpected. They set milestones—and completing each of those intermediate tasks gives them energy that propels them forward. As the deadline approaches, though, their enthusiasm for the project may wane. All of that preparation and scheduling is draining, and they just want the thing over with. So with focused determination, they tie up the loose ends, send the project off, and forget about it.

Perceiving types may wait to start a new project, focusing instead on more urgent work already in progress. They like to spend time mulling over the project before they begin, and they generally devise a schedule by working backward from the deadline. Since they enjoy improvising and tend to be good at it, they often don’t create backup plans. They trust that everything will work itself out. Energized by new ideas, they enjoy research and may delay writing until they feel they’ve thoroughly explored the possibilities. Once they’ve gathered enough information, they begin to see the pieces fall into place. The deadline gives them energy to push toward the finish line. Without a deadline, they may lack motivation to complete a project. Conversely, some may continue tinkering with a project even after they’ve turned it in.

Image courtesy of sue_r_b.

Sources:

The Art of Dialogue by Carolyn Zeisset
Writing and Personality by John K. DiTiberio and George H. Jensen

Related posts:

Energy to Write: Extraversion vs. Introversion 
Energy to Write: Thinking vs. Feeling
Energy to Write: Sensing vs. Intuition