Entries for month: September 2013

Untypical Behaviors

I’m an introvert, but you would never guess that if you saw me at a party. I’m talking to everyone, telling stories, asking questions, and making jokes. That would be great, except that every time I leave a party, I’m filled with self-doubt about all of the talking I did. I wonder things like, “Should I have made that joke around Theresa when she’s so religious?” “Was Dana quiet because I was dominating the conversation?” and “Should I tell funny stories at my husband’s expense?”

Every time I come back from a party I make resolutions to hold my tongue next time and behave with calm dignity like a true Introvert. The minute I get into a group, however, I break my resolutions. When I’m with people, I have to talk, and that’s all there is to it.

There is no doubt in my mind that I’m an introvert, but I wonder why I have this very extraverted behavior, and why it is a problem for me. I do other “untypical” things all the time, to survive or to be a better person, but this is the one untypical thing I do to be myself. It’s also the one untypical behavior that I regret afterwards.

I was really looking for some answers when I remembered that there is an instrument called the MBTI® Step II™ assessment, which breaks down each MBTI preference into five different subscales. This means that you can have a definite preference, like introversion, but still have some “untypical” or extraverted behaviors.  It offers a more customized portrait of your type. I pulled out a book from my shelf called the MBTI® Step II™ User’s Guide, and started reading the subscales of extraversion and introversion.

On four of the subscales, I found myself more in the introverted descriptors. But on one, I found a perfect description of myself on the extraverted side, as an “Expressive.” It said that Expressive people need to express their thoughts and feelings out loud, so they are easy to get to know, and are admired by others for their ability to keep a conversation flowing. On the other hand, they can be indiscriminate at times about what they share.  

So there it is. I’m an Expressive Introvert. I could probably be more careful about   what I share, but I don’t need to clam up. If I’m easy to get to know and good at keeping a conversation flowing, that’s a good thing. 

If my party behavior isn’t the problem, then the problem is in criticizing myself afterwards. To deal with that, I decided that instead of thinking about what I did wrong, I would spend the hours after a party reminding myself of everything I did right. I would recall every appreciative thing I said to people, every time I made them laugh, every time I got a good conversation going, and every time I encouraged someone to share their story. Amazingly, when I started to count the things I did right, I concluded that it’s a good thing I’m not quieter.  

If you’re having problems figuring out why you (or someone else) seems so untypical sometimes, for example, an “Imaginative S,” “Tender T,” or “Methodical P,” you might find some real understanding in either taking the Step II assessment from a qualified professional or in just reading the guide. For me, it got me off a path that goes round in circles, and onto a path that leads to a much brighter place.

 

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