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.
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?