Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are All Introverts Quiet?

I think most people would tell you that one of the defining traits of introverts is that they are quiet. It’s even the name of one of the most popular introvert books — Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This also happens to be the book that first got me started on studying and embracing introversion, and it’s still one of my favorite books.

But in the midst of this “quiet revolution” that’s pushing for greater acceptance of introversion, we might get the idea that all introverts are characterized by being soft-spoken people who rarely talk. However, that’s not entirely accurate and that’s not what really what Susan Cain meant when she named her book Quiet.

Confusing Introversion and Shyness

One of the most common mistakes regarding introversion is to assume it’s the same thing as shyness. But introversion is simply a description of how about 50% of the population’s brains are “hardwired.” It’s a preference for the inner world and a need to recharge in solitude. Shyness, on the other hand, is related to social anxiety. Read more

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How To Communicate More Comfortably As An Introvert

Talking can be hard for introverts. Get us in just the right setting and you might have trouble making us shut up, but in most everyday conversations we struggle to come up with anything to talk about. As I wrote about last week, many introverts struggle to talk about personal things. Beyond that, we struggle with knowing what to talk about at all.

We often assume most people don’t want to hear about the things we care about. We think it sounds boring to  answer, “What did you do last weekend?” by saying “Stayed home with my cat and watched Netflix.” Or we worry that we sound uninteresting if we answer, “What do you like to do?” with “Read, contemplate life, hide in a blanket fort … you know, exciting stuff like that.”

The Kind Of Talking We Don’t Like

About 50% of the population is introverted so there’s actually a good chance of you finding other people who think what you enjoy is perfectly normal because they also enjoy similar things. But for those of us in the United States, and other cultures that tend to have more “extroverted” values, we might still feel pressure to not be “weird” and stick with “normal” topics of conversation. Read more

Why It’s So Hard To Talk About Personal Things As An Introvert

If you’re an introvert, do you enjoy talking about yourself? Many of us don’t. We don’t want to share personal details. We’re also hesitant to ask other people personal questions. If they want to share that’s okay, but asking them feels like prying. We don’t particularly want to be pried into so we assume other people don’t either.

But whether we like to admit it or not, sharing personal details and stories is key to building connections with people. Whether we want to have a good business relationship, keep in touch with acquaintances, develop a friendship, or enter a relationship with someone we have to be able to talk about ourselves and ask questions about the other person.

Learning to talk about ourselves and engaging with others on a personal level can be a challenge for introverts. This also means it’s a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. I don’t know about you, but I would love to be a better conversationalist. I don’t want to become “more extroverted” per se, but I do want to learn to communicate well as an introvert. Read more

Conversations That Didn’t Happen

I’m staring out the backseat window watching unplanted fields roll by while having a conversation. It’s going pretty well — we’re exchanging ideas, sharing authentic feelings, clarifying anything that was unclear earlier — in short, it’s the kind of meaningful conversation I crave with people I care about. Only one problem: it’s all happening in my head and the guy I’m talking with has no clue we just had this conversation.

From talking with other INFJs and writing my INFJ Handbook, I know thinking through past and potential conversations is something my personality type does. We tend to favor the world inside our own heads and spend plenty of time there. We’re also interested in people, though, so it makes sense that many of our inner thoughts are about how others might respond to us and what they might think about our ideas.

Conversations That Didn't Happen | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo Credits: “Daydreaming” by Lóránt Szabó and “Conversation” by Sharon Mollerus

But living inside your head isn’t just an INFJ thing — a preference for the inner world is one of the main ways we define introversion. With that in mind, I asked a group of introverts on Facebook if they related to this and got some interesting responses from several different personality types. I also mentioned that sometimes I forget which conversations I’ve actually had with people and which ones only took place in my head and that resonated with some but, everyone. Here’s a few of the comments I got (used with permission):

  • “That doesn’t sound like something limited to certain personality types, other than introversion itself. I find myself doing it from time to time. I don’t usually think about others’ feelings or intuit what they are thinking, but the conversations always play out in my head way more than they ever do in real life” (anonymous ISTJ)
  • “Yes, I do! It’s getting harder and harder to distinguish which is the “real” conversation. I know too well how you feel … I don’t think it’s limited to any particular personality type” (anonymous)
  • “Yep, all the time. It’s the really confrontational ones that will get me though. I get really angry at scenarios I have dreamed up in my head” (Charis Tippets Branson, INFJ)
  • “90% of the conversations I have are in my head” (anonymous)
  • “I do that. Though I remember if I’ve actually had those conversations because the imaginary ones were full of remarks I’d never actually say” (Mary Menard)
  • “I do this regularly. It’s especially helpful if it’s a hard conversation that needs to happen. The problem is that I have it all figured out and sometimes forget I didn’t actually have the conversation. Last week I told my husband, ‘So, do I really have to call and talk to her or could I just pray and ask God to tell her for me?’ He said I need to call. 😐 I wrote down what to cover or I get into listening mode and have no idea what I was planning to say” (anonymous INFJ)

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My Hair is a Sign?

my sister and me
my sister and me

As I’ve written before (see post “Breeding Red-heads“), my sister and I receive quite a number of comments on our red hair. These range from complementary to inappropriate, from harmless to creepy. I was starting to think I’ve heard at least one variation on  most of the types of comments that people might make. This weekend, however, proved me wrong. My sister and I were visiting a Messianic group to spend Shabbat with them. The meeting hall for our regular church group has gotten so bad for my allergies that I can’t go back until they find a new building (I only stayed 10 minutes last time, and still my sister had to drive me home). I don’t want to be without fellowship, though, so I’m visiting other local Sabbath-keeping groups. Anyway,we were talking with a man who’d just introduced himself, and the conversation turned to our hair. There was much chattering and background noise, so I’m not entirely sure I caught all the conversation, but here’s the gist of what he said:

It’s so nice to see red-heads. So rare. Did you meet Emily? Yes? she dyed her hair red when we heard redheads will be extinct by 2050. To show she supported you. We never meet many red-heads you know? and now you are here, it’s a sign. For Jews, things happen in threes. Signs, you know? So Emily dying her hair was the first sign, and now two red heads appear here in our group. You are a sign!

Well, that’s the first time I’ve been called a sign. I have no idea what we might be a sign of, but he seemed pretty positive that’s what we were. (BTW, the red-head extinction theory is — thankfully — bogus.)

Breeding Red-Heads

Red-Head Complaints marissabaker.wordpress.com
my hair

I love having red hair. But there are times when I wish it wasn’t quite so unusual. No one walks up to other girls and says, “Wow, your hair is brunette” or “Your hair is so blond.” As if I didn’t already know I have red hair. Hair stylists tell me they have clients who would kill for my hair color (which is kinda creepy if you think about it– red hair isn’t that amazing).

The most awkward comments are those about how rare red hair is becoming. The first one I remember happened when I was only seven or eight years old and an elderly couple told my red-haired sister and me that we needed to marry red-headed men so we could preserve the red-head population. I’ve heard these types of comments several times since then, but the most awkward has to be the one we received last week.

My sister and three friends were about to jump out of a plane (don’t worry, they had parachutes). I convinced myself it was okay to be cowardly and tag along just to take pictures (after all, think how many books you could buy for the cost of a skydive!). We were all standing in the hanger, waiting on the instructors, when a guy who might have been in his 60s walked up to the desk. He looked over at my sister and I and commented on our red hair. But he wasn’t content to stop there, and continued by saying how rare red-heads are becoming.  I braced myself for the inevitable comment about red-headed babies, but wasn’t quite ready for him to shout, “You should breed!”

I think my face turned as red as my hair.