Why Personality Typing is Important, Pt. 2

Last post I gave an example (using energy orientation) of how knowing your personality, your “natural bent,” can benefit you, and help you take better care of yourself.

Image courtesy of Matt Benson via stoc.xchng

Image courtesy of Matt Benson via stoc.xchng

This awareness is also useful in relation to other people.

I know a woman who is the only extrovert in her family of four. She is a very involved mother, and when her daughter was young, the mother would frequently become distressed at the “unnatural” tendency in the child to withdraw and isolate herself.

The mother would hover outside the closed bedroom door, begging to know what was wrong, and the quietly confident daughter would say that line every parent has been taught to dread: “I’m fine, I just need to be alone for a while.”

Of course parents need to exercise discernment, but 20 years later, learning about the differences in energy-orientation, this mother felt a huge relief and lifting of worry.

Her quietly sociable, kind-hearted daughter wasn’t withdrawing from family (or mother’s) love, she was instinctively rebuilding her energy in the most effective way she knew.

Similarly, when my extraverted daughter is exhausted and needs to be at my (introverted) elbow all. the. time. after a draining event, knowing her energy orientation was all that kept me from snapping at her to give me my “space.”

I realized (grumpily) that this was a moment equivalent to waking in the middle of the night to feed my hungry baby. My daughter had a need she was looking to me to meet, and with my own (opposite) need, it required creativity to take care of us both.

Our solution ended up being reading together. She got the physical contact, the reassurance of Mother’s presence, and I got the quiet stillness that I needed.

And we both got to settle and reorient after the very disorienting process of moving.

There are also ways to respond completely separate from parenting.

I remember with great fondness a call from that grown daughter in my first example. We were scheduled to eat dinner together on the same day another family had been at my house all morning and afternoon.

The nonstop peopleness of the day so far was enjoyable but tiring, and I knew starting all over with a new set of people at dinner would render me useless the next day, no matter how enjoyable the company.

So when my introverted friend called and said she was too tired to get together, all I could feel was gratitude for fellow-introverts who honor their natural limits.

Likewise, being aware of a difference in energy orientation will help you make an informed choice about how long to spend with someone, or how much to agree to.

Image courtesy of K Rayker via stock.xchng

Image courtesy of K Rayker via stock.xchng

Extraverts can learn to hear a “no, thank you” to party invitations not as a personal rejection, but being about the other person’s self-care. Offering a smaller get-together or a quieter environment might be a more-effective way to initiate time together with an introvert.

Likewise, introverts can “charge up” for major events (a wedding, a speaking engagement, a concert) if they know about them sufficiently in advance, and their schedule allows. Many introverts I know plan their social calendars with a recuperating day to follow a high-extraversion day.

Naming and acknowledging differences in the way individuals function is a tremendous tool in learning how to share space with people who are different than you. It is a way to dip into our strengths and be the most effective people we can be.

When we recognize our greatest strengths and lean into them, partnering with people who are strong where we are weak, we build a far more effective and sustainable community that is able to go further than merely recognizing and “shoring up” our weaknesses ever could.