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Understanding Introverts - Myth vs. Reality

Discuss personal development, self-improvement and motivational psychology.

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Understanding Introverts - Myth vs. Reality

Post by Winston » May 1st, 2012, 1:31 am

Check out these great articles about introverts that I found. What do you think? Does this apply to you guys too?


http://www.carlkingdom.com/10-myths-about-introverts

10 Myths About Introverts

I wrote this list in late-2008. Around that time, I was lucky enough to discover a book called, The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. It felt like someone had written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong. Not only had it explained many of my eccentricities, it helped me to redefine my entire life in a new and productive context.
Sure, anyone who knows me would say, “Duh! Why did it take you so long to realize you’re an Introvert?â€￾ It’s not that simple. The problem is that labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions. It’s more complex than that.

A section of Laney’s book (page 71 through page 75) maps out the human brain and explains how neuro-transmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of Introverts and Extroverts. If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.

Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)
So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (not taken directly from the book, but based on my own life experience):

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.

This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.

Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.

On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.â€￾ They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.

Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.

Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.

Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.

A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselvesâ€￾ and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

“You cannot escape us, and to change us would lead to your demise.â€￾ <-- I made that up. I'm a screenwriter.

It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World. Like other minorities, Introverts can end up hating themselves and others because of the differences. If you think you are an Introvert, I recommend you research the topic and seek out other Introverts to compare notes. The burden is not entirely on Introverts to try and become "normal." Extroverts need to recognize and respect us, and we also need to respect ourselves.

Let me know your thoughts.

-Carl.


http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/introvert.htm

Introvert
By Carol Bainbridge, About.com Guide

Definition: Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to "recharge."

When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.

Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

Introverts make up about 60% of the gifted population but only about 25-40% of the general population.


http://briankim.net/blog/2007/10/top-5- ... ntroverts/

1. If a person is introverted, it does NOT mean they are shy or anti-social.

This is probably THE biggest misconception that extroverts tend to have when it comes to introverts.

And you can’t really blame them for having that kind of misconception.

Extroverts tend to have to drag introverts to parties, to convince them to go and sell them on attending social engagements. When introverts politely decline, extroverts automatically assume that something might be wrong so they always ask if everything’s all right and of course, everything is all right. It’s just a common misunderstanding. When extroverts see a pattern like this developing, they automatically assume that introverts are shy or anti-social as that can be the only logical explanation to them. What’s more, when extroverts try to engage introverts in small talk, it seems like they hit a brick wall.

Add to that, most extroverts see that introverts tend to be fond of engaging in solitary activities such as reading, writing, and daydreaming.

Well, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it must be a duck right?

Wrong.

Introverts have more brain activity in their frontal lobes and when these areas are activated through solitary activity, introverts become energized through processes such as problem solving, introspection, and complex thinking.

Extroverts on the other hand tend to have more activity in the back of their brain, areas that deal with processing sensory information from the external world, so they tend to search for external stimuli in the form of interacting with other people and the outside world to energize them.

There’s a deeper science to this that involves differences in the levels of brain chemicals such as acetylcholine and dopamine in extroverts and introverts, but I won’t get into that.

The bottom line is that introverts are just wired differently than extroverts. There’s nothing “wrongâ€￾ with them. They just become energized through different processes depending on where the majority of their brain activity takes place.

Granted there are introverts who may be shy and anti-social, but that’s just a coincidence that perpetuates the myth that ALL introverts are like that.

You’ll find that all introverts are fine just the way they are until people begin to subtly suggest otherwise.

2. Introverts tend to dislike small talk.

If you really want to engage an introvert in conversation, skip the small talk. Introverts tend to love deep conversations on subjects that interest them. They love to debate, go past the superficial and poke around the depths in people’s minds to see what’s really going on in there. Most, if not all introverts tend to regard small talk as a waste of time, unless it’s with someone new they just met.

This characteristic probably contributes to another misconception that extroverts have of introverts - the misconception that all introverts are arrogant.

Why?

Because extroverts notice that introverts don’t talk that much with other people. Therefore, extroverts assume that introverts think they’re too good to talk to others, hence arrogant and that’s hardly the case.

It’s just a matter of preference.

Extroverts thrive on small talk. Introverts abhor it.

There’s nothing wrong with either choice, it’s just a matter of preference.
This brings us to the third point.

3. Introverts do like to socialize – only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts.

Yes, it’s true. Contrary to the majority of public opinion, introverts do like to socialize, but again, only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts.

Introverts love anything that involves deep conversation. They get energized by discussing subjects that are important to them and they love see what and how other people think, to connect the dots, to dig deep, to find root causes, to use logical thinking via debate in conversation, etc.

And what’s more, introverts can do a lot of things extroverts are naturally good at - give great speeches, schmooze with everyone, be the life of the party, charm the socks off of total strangers - but only for a short period of time. After that, they need time for themselves which brings us to the fourth point.

4. Introverts need time alone to recharge.

Extroverts tend to think introverts have something against them as they constantly seem to refuse generous invites to social engagements. Introverts do appreciate the offers, but it’s just that they know it will take a lot of energy out of them if they pursue these social functions.

They need time alone like they need food and water. Give them their space. There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re not depressed and they’re not sad. They just need time alone to recharge their batteries.

5. Introverts are socially well adjusted.

Most introverts are well aware of all the social nuances, customs, and mannerisms when it comes to interacting with other people, but they simply don’t choose to socialize as much as extroverts, which makes it easy for extroverts to assume that introverts are not socially well adjusted, as they have not seen much evidence of them interacting with other people.

This just exacerbates previous misconceptions and gives way to labeling introverts as nerds, geeks, loners, etc.

It’s easy to understand why society tends to value extroverts over introverts. Human beings have lived in a tribal society so having to interact frequently with people came to be a regarded as a very good skill when it came to survival.

But because of this high value placed on extroversion, introverts tend to feel trapped and find themselves in a catch 22 situation.
Do introverts stay true to who they are and risk social alienation and isolation or do introverts conform and join the extroverted side, pretending to be somebody they’re not just to fit in?

This is precisely why I wrote this article, because if the extroverts can become more educated about introverts, introverts will be able to feel free to stay true to who they are, and that’s a good thing from society’s point of view.

Trying to “turnâ€￾ an introverted person into an extroverted person is detrimental because it gives off a subtle suggestion that there is something wrong with them, hampering their self worth and esteem when there is absolutely nothing wrong in the first place.

There’s nothing wrong with introverts.

In fact, introverts are the leading pioneers of advancements in human civilization. Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Charles Darwin are a few introverts that come to mind, just to name a few.

And for those of you not interested in science, but pop culture, you’ll be surprised to see a lot of well known names in Hollywood are introverts as well. Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Christian Bale to name a few as well.

And for those interested in sports, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods come to mind as athletes who are introverts as well.

Introverts have a lot to bring to the table. They have an amazing ability to discover new thoughts, an uncanny ability to focus, to concentrate, to connect the dots, to observe and note things that most people miss, to listen extremely well and are often found having a rich and vivid imagination too.

The more extroverts become knowledgeable about introverts, the less tension and misunderstanding there will be among the two.
So if you’re an introvert reading this, send a copy of this article to all your extrovert friends so they can get a better idea of what you’re all about.

It’s time to finally clear the air.


A book about introverts:

http://hiddengiftsoftheintrovertedchild ... advantage/
Last edited by Winston on May 1st, 2012, 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Understanding Introverts - Myth vs. Reality

Post by Rock » May 1st, 2012, 2:48 am

Yes, this is very fresh stuff to me. I haven't read anything like it before. Makes a world of sense.

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Post by Winston » May 1st, 2012, 3:37 pm

Indeed. It explains why most of us here are different. I think most of us here probably lean toward the introvert side, though not totally. The part about the different brain chemistry between extroverts and introverts is new to me, and I guess it makes sense.

The ironic thing is that how can we as introverts be more open to talking to strangers, yet most people who are extroverts are cliquish and don't talk to strangers without being introduced? Isn't that ironic?

This paragraph is especially true of us here. lol
If you really want to engage an introvert in conversation, skip the small talk. Introverts tend to love deep conversations on subjects that interest them. They love to debate, go past the superficial and poke around the depths in people’s minds to see what’s really going on in there. Most, if not all introverts tend to regard small talk as a waste of time, unless it’s with someone new they just met.
We certainly like to debate ideas here. :)

Based on the articles above, I would guess that places like big cities are mostly populated by extroverts, unless they have no choice but to live there. An introvert would feel drained by all the stimulation of a big city and view it as an intrusion into his inner world. Likewise, dance clubs and parties are filled up of mostly extroverts as well, since such types feel bored when alone, because they have no inner life. They get energy from others, and don't get drained from too much interaction like introverts do.
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Post by Mr S » May 1st, 2012, 5:30 pm

I'm an introvert, and have known this for a long time. This article describes me almost completely. One reason I moved overseas is because living in a foreign culture I can be my true self without always having to pretend like extroverts do regarding social BS. This is why I cannot succeed in America working for a large company, too much extrovert BS to have to deal with and it's getting worse.

When I had psychology class in uni i was classified as a INTJ, it helped explain a lot of things regarding who I am and why I act a certain way and why I have a hard time dealing with American society in general.
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Post by Billy » May 1st, 2012, 6:17 pm

My bullshit idea obout that topic is: intoverts have fewer testo in their blood. It is the power hormone. You will feel like a superhero. So let us get some testo boys :)

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Post by lavezzi » May 1st, 2012, 10:47 pm

Winston wrote:The ironic thing is that how can we as introverts be more open to talking to strangers, yet most people who are extroverts are cliquish and don't talk to strangers without being introduced? Isn't that ironic?
That's because extroverts are completely absorbed in their own self-image. They don't really care at all about broadening their horizons, they only want to know about things that relate to them which transcribes into them only wanting to socialize with people or groups that are pre-associated with them.


I really don't care much for interacting with strangers (or people in general for that matter) in my country as most of them don't have anything interesting to say and even if they do, the ability to truly speak one's mind has been so repressed that it's seen as taboo. People just talk mindless chatter to project an image of themselves rather than actually trying to learn anything from one another. I don't care for doing this, so the end result is I'm mostly a loner. I enjoy observing and thinking more than socially interacting.

In my view, the perfect scenario for an introvert is to have one really strong relationship with a female, but it seems ALL Western females are rabid extroverts/conformists who're impossible for introverts to relate with in any meaningful way.

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Post by Taco » May 2nd, 2012, 12:06 am

Mr S wrote:I'm an introvert, and have known this for a long time. This article describes me almost completely. One reason I moved overseas is because living in a foreign culture I can be my true self without always having to pretend like extroverts do regarding social BS. This is why I cannot succeed in America working for a large company, too much extrovert BS to have to deal with and it's getting worse.

When I had psychology class in uni i was classified as a INTJ, it helped explain a lot of things regarding who I am and why I act a certain way and why I have a hard time dealing with American society in general.
I'm an INTJ too. Our brains are more active than most people thats why we don't talk as much.

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Types Most Compatible With INTJ's
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Post by Winston » July 18th, 2012, 4:16 am

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... vert/2696/

Caring for Your Introvert

The habits and needs of a little-understood group

By Jonathan Rauch

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: "I'm okay, you're okay—in small doses."

How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—"a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population."

Are introverts misunderstood? Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Are introverts oppressed? I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, "Don't you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?" (He is also supposed to have said, "If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it." The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. "Introverts," writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I'm not making that up, either), "are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don't outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness." Just so.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What's the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

Third, don't say anything else, either.

Jonathan Rauch is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior writer for National Journal.
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Post by Winston » July 18th, 2012, 4:19 am

When I take the Myers-Brigg personality test, I usually get either an INFJ or halfway between INFJ and ENFJ.

This part is so true about me.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arc ... te/4646/2/

"If I get onto a topic I'm interested in and feel strongly about then it's true that I can get animated and engaged. But I'm not so good at chatting about things like the weather.

Right. The weather's not interesting. But once an introvert gets on a subject that they know about or care about or that intrigues them intellectually, the opposite often takes hold. They get passionately engaged and turned on by the conversation. But it's not socializing that's going on there. It's learning or teaching or analyzing, which involves, I'm convinced, a whole different part of the brain from the socializing part."
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Post by zacb » July 18th, 2012, 4:42 am

Great post.
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Post by Ginger » November 2nd, 2012, 5:12 pm

:)
Last edited by Ginger on July 3rd, 2013, 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I do not promise to be gingerly :P

Exod
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Post by Exod » November 2nd, 2012, 5:49 pm

I'm an INTJ or INTP depending on the test and/or the day. I suspect most people who like to hang out in forums are xNTx at the very least, for obvious reasons.

Ginger
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Post by Ginger » November 2nd, 2012, 7:38 pm

:)
Last edited by Ginger on July 3rd, 2013, 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I do not promise to be gingerly :P

Exod
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Post by Exod » November 2nd, 2012, 8:04 pm

Ginger wrote:
Exod wrote:I'm an INTJ or INTP depending on the test and/or the day. I suspect most people who like to hang out in forums are xNTx at the very least, for obvious reasons.
I'm an INTP borderline INTJ, so I guess you are right (I live on forums too)
Yeah, I don't exactly live on forums, but I prefer written, asynchronous communication. I'm quite voluble in writing but quite terse in real life with people I don't know well, although I get better if I vibe with the environment.

I think introverts use internet as a helpful adjunct (sometimes substitute, although I hope it will never come to that!) to real-life communication, while extroverts use it mostly as a tool to enhance and facilitate it.

Renata
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Post by Renata » December 5th, 2012, 11:21 pm

hhmm good read, .... I went from being extremely introverted & shy to 'catch me if you can!!!' lol ... maybe it's really hormonal.
- It's easy to give, when you know what it's like to have nothing. -

- Develop a backbone, not a wishbone. -

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