What’s another way to introduce the idea of introverted changemakers?

So I’m writing a book. Right now I’m identifying and interviewing introverted changemakers.

But I have a problem.

Whenever I pitch the idea to people in the social change/non-profit/social innovation space who I think might consider themselves to be introverts, I often get this response:

Oh, but I’m both.

or…

I did that test and I was right in the middle.

And then they go on to talk more about how they work — and they describe introverts to a T. Is it about not knowing much about introversion/extroversion? Or is it about a discomfort with coming out as an introvert?

Here’s the complicated background. Because I’m a certified facilitator of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the main assessment that covers introversion/extroversion) there is some underlying theory to the whole introversion thing I find hard to let go of when I talk about introversion.

  • Introversion and extroversion is not about how outgoing you are or can be, it’s about where you get your energy from (time alone vs. being around people).
  • Introverts can and do enjoy interacting with people. Often however, we prefer interacting with small groups/with one other person, and we especially like interacting about things that we find important/interesting.
  • Everyone is capable of doing both “introverted” and “extroverted” things. It’s what makes us able to function in the world. However, deep down we have a preference. Kind of like left vs. right handed. Even ambidextrous people usually have a go-to hand.
  • Introversion and extroversion is not about what you do for work, or what your family is like, or how you imagine you would like to be. Again, deep down we have a preference.
  • There is no “I’m in the middle”. If your results showed you as being “in the middle” it doesn’t mean that you are equally introverted and extroverted, it means that you aren’t clear on what your preference is deep down (often because of some of the items listed in the previous point).
  • The Jungian theory behind the MBTI suggests we are born with our innate preferences. While we might develop various skills throughout our lives, and enjoy the benefits of using those other skills, our innate preferences don’t change over time.

So, help me. How would you introduce this book idea? How can I connect with people who are introverted but who, for whatever reason, are hesitant to label themselves as one?

4 comments:

  1. Speaking as one of your target population, I’d ask, “are you a changemaker who enjoys down time to recharge your energy?” That way you avoid the term introvert, which is causing the problem with how people self-identify.

  2. I look at my own introversion as a default setting. I typically test pretty far over on the introversion scale of MBTI tests I’ve taken and know where I’m comfortable, but I feel like others really pursue a healthy mix or balance of introverted vs. extroverted activities or actions and strive to achieve it. So in their own minds, at least, this goal motivates them to identify with the characteristics they value from each rather than embracing the identity of one over another. Perhaps some of this comes from a certain stigma I feel introverts can experience, however subtle, as we are social creatures and must be social to survive. I think people can view introversion as self-indulgent or incompetence to function in situations that convey higher social status. So to your point, some people may be motivated by under-reporting their preference. On the other hand, I think there’s a certain appeal to introversion as time for introspection and perhaps extroverts feel as if they don’t enjoy that alone time they way “they’re supposed to.”

    As with other areas of the MBTI, I find myself working toward the middle in most areas. I don’t deny my inherent traits, but strive to build skills that complement my weaknesses rather than accentuate them. For example, I’ve scored borderline on F/P pretty consistently and find attributes from both appealing, so why not embrace the best of both entities? I think there is good reason to hesitate embracing one identity over another, but I also think there is much value in recognizing your preferential strengths and weaknesses better so you can tailor how you apply yourself to the world in a more effective way.

    Sorry, I know this is an old post but I’m loving what I’ve read so far and it seems like this content was meant for me! Got here through the Workflowy post… I’m working on an GTD implementation and still deciding if Workflowy is my best choice for maintaining the project/action lists. It’s currently the leader based on mobile compatibility and my love of bulleted lists!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Wesley! Workflowy is definitely a gateway post :) I’ve heard a lot of happiness with Google Keep as well if you’re interested in trying another option.

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