Sunday, 20 July 2008
The Extroverted Minority
I am a member of many minorities and rather than complain about disadvantage, I find it is better to understand how other people think. That way I can explain why things are the way they are and like a good geek understanding is the bomb.
Since a friend introduced me to the oracle that is Myers Briggs, I have been entranced by the idea that people have a preference for how they think, are energised and how they prefer to behave. Let's not be ridiculous, it's a little more accurate than astrology but does not define you or me. Understanding the basis of behaviour is always revealing.
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time being the lonely extrovert in the sea of IT introverts. I won't complain because introverts are my favourite people. I do realise though that they often see me as the excited puppy or the open book.
In a fascinating conversation today with a group containing an even number of introverts (Is) and extroverts (Es), I discovered the kind of thresholds that people can handle before they feel uncomfortable in a group. According to Jung, extroverts get their energy from people while introverts are energised from within. To me, that makes introverts like superheroes and extroverts... well not. Being in a group and interacting with people makes me feel charged. Sometimes I have to stop hanging out with people or I feel I'll explode.
So back to the thresholds... the Is in the group and some of the Es found that they were comfortable with groups containing 1-6 people. Once they had interacted with these gatherings for a few hours, the Is had to have time on their own to recharge.
As a good puppy, I thought long and hard about my threshold because I wanted to contribute to the conversation. As a good extrovert, I waited for the person speaking to stop and spoke up with my number. This is the number at which I get uncomfortable dealing with that many people at once. When I said "My tipping point is around 50", there was great laughter and smiles. That was the honest truth though but it may be higher in larger rooms.
Even while I'm surrounded by introverts, I still don't quite get how they work and think and recharge but I do love the variety of people in the world. It's probably best we keep on trying to understand each other and just accept everyone for the beautiful unique snowflakes they are :)