Am I Introverted or Extroverted?

I’m often asked why this blog is titled “Introvert”.  Well part of it is because I AM one — but I’m also interested in temperament and how introverts and extroverts react to life, the world, and everything.

There are probably hundreds of articles on introversion and extroversion so I won’t add a long treatise to the list.

I will try to pinpoint a couple of general traits that may help you identify which you are.

First, I personally am an introverted extrovert — by this I mean that I love visiting with people and don’t fear social situations where I know people or have been invited for a specific purpose.  But I am highly uncomfortable in unstructured social situations such as wedding receptions, social get-togethers where I don’t know many people, etc.

But a key to an introverted definition has to do with what gives you energy or makes you tired.  An extrovert can come out of an unstructured social situation with more energy.  An introvert comes out of the same situation, well, tired!  Social situations cause the introvert to need to recharge — typically by having quiet down time reading, listening to music, web browsing, or sitting in nature.

There are degrees of introversion and extroversion.  There are other social factors such as family, workgroup, number of close friends (which is usually a small number with introverts).

So determine your degree of introversion by this simple ratio – amount of social interaction equated to “X” amount of needed downtime to recharge.  The bigger your “X” factor is the more introverted you are.

How to React/Respond to the DiSC Test

In a previous post I described how the DiSC test is used – in a nutshell, this test helps determine your inborn temperament type.

This test may be useful to your company but how can you benefit from the results?  First off, I believe strongly that understanding your underlying temperament is highly valuable in every aspect of life.  It helps you understand why you react the way you do to situations and others.  It helps you understand why others react to you the way they do.  It gives insight into why you like or dislike certain individuals.

Some things to consider as you take the test and get your results – first, it is comletely possible to “game” the test by choosing answers to the questions that don’t reflect your actual way of thinking and reacting.  So you could be a calm Phlegmatic (High S in DiSC) but come out as a hard-driving Choleric (High D) based on how you answer the questions.

So if for some reason you want to give your company or group a mis-leading impression you certainly can.  But if you take the time to answer thoughtfully, the results can benefit you beyond their original purpose.

Secondly, as in any personality test, your answers are subjective.  I’ve had people tell me they’ve taken the test numerous times but gotten different answers.  This is because of a couple of factors – depending on the circumstances of the test, you may answer differently.  In a job interview you’ll want to put on your best “face” based on what you think they want to hear.

In a team building exercise, you may react to the questions in relationship to the group — work, social, personal.

For these reasons I encourage people to take the test more than once — not sequentially but over time — so that you can spot trends in your own reactions.

Learning your basic temperament type can assist you in improving all types of relationships — personal, social, work, team.  If you are interested I have an e-book on how the different temperament types react to each other.  You can find it on the Amazon Kindle bookstore.

A Melancholy Makes Decisions

Once we discover that our temperament has something to do with where we are in life, we often panic and want things to change.  I got this letter from a reader –

“Please help!!!! I am a MelPhleg (Melancholy Phlegmatic  or High C, High S in DiSC) with a number of Choleric traits underlying my personality.  I am currently an Occupational Therapist and miserable.  I feel like I am drowning in paperwork and sit on my butt all day.  This is not a good recipe for a “doer”.  I have been thinking about a career change.  I am thinking about being a photographer in the military.  Of course I am analyzing this to death.  I am reading all information I can get my fingers on, seeing a career counselor now, and plan on talking to a recruiter in the near future.

I was wondering if you have any additional advise for me and my situation?”

My answer – First off, s-l-o-w down.  You are going to blow a gasket!  A Melancholy Phlegmatic (High C, High S) is a detailed person who doesn’t feel the need to force their style on others.  The Melancholy has the need to analyze and the Phlegmatic has the tendency to worry which is probably causing some of this anxiety.  If you determine in your (choose your term – heart, innermost self) that you need to change then you’ve already begun some of the steps.

Don’t let your anxiety push you to a decision too quickly but don’t let your Choleric pieces (Driver) push you into a decision you are unsure of.  Finally, and somewhat in contradiction to what I just wrote, there IS NO perfect career/life answer and the thing that is our passion today becomes a job tomorrow.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure you maintain activites that bring balance to your life overall.  Best wishes and let me know if you have further questions.

Why Am I Taking the DiSC?

There’s a scene from the Big Bang Theory where Penny asks Sheldon to teach her physics.  He begins with “It’s a warm summer night in ancient Greece . . .” so I figured I’d start there too.

The ancient Greeks thought that a person’s personality was influenced by “humours” which were a variety of different fluids in the body.  A Choleric was driven, a Sanguine was outgoing, a Melancholy was critical and a Phlegmatic was calm.

We still see that each individual has an inborn temperament type which has been codified in many ways; one of which is the DiSC test.  This test or survey asks how you react to a variety of situations in life and by your answers determines which is your primary temperament type and which is your backup or secondary type.  95% of individuals are a blend of two types though a few people are a blend of three types.

So your company or maybe a company you want to work for has said you will take a DiSC test and you are freaked out.  Too often there is not enough explanation of what the test does and how the results are used and, honestly, the results can sometimes be mis-used.

To start, the D in DiSC is the driven Choleric, the i (which stands for “influencing of others”) is the outgoing Sanguine, the S is the calm, steady Phlegmatic and the C is the conscientious, analytical Melancholy.

So what’s if for and how will it be used and how can you be assured how the results will be used?

Typically the DiSC is used in team building or possibly in hiring decisions.  If a workgroup is having issues then the DiSC may help uncover trends in behavior that are due to temperament.  If a sales role is being filled then HR may utilize the DiSC to look for hard-driving Choleric (D) types.

What many people that use the DiSC don’t realize is that temperament is only one aspect of overall personality.  In other words, inborn temperament is the foundation but temperament plus all life experience equals personality.

So at a foundational level the DiSC is inherently harmless BUT how the results are used may NOT be harmless.

In my next post I’ll deal with how you can utilize the results in your own self-development, how people “game” the test, and how to avoid being pigeon-holed by the results.

Questions? Just add them in the comments or email me at halwarfield(at)gmail(dot)com.