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How Introverts Are Coping

Shelter-in-place is even more stressful for some of us than COVID-19 itself. I really didn’t want to expose you to one more article about the corona virus, but here’s something to chew on if you’re going nuts at home and desperately want to be around your co-workers, family, and friends. Could it be that this uncertain time is especially difficult for you because you’re an Extravert? Don’t worry. It’s in your nature.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) defines Extraverts (yes, the spelling is correct) as individuals who derive their energy by being around other people.  They like to think out loud, and they prefer working in groups.  What stresses Extraverts is feeling a lack of control, unexpected changes, too much time alone, and having to sit still for too long.

We Introverts, on the other hand, recharge our energy by being alone or with just a few people (one-on-one is pure bliss).  It’s not that we’re unfriendly; we just need to go back into our Bat Cave now and then.  We Introverts are seen by others as calming influences.  We are good listeners, too.

MBTI measures your true, deep self—or “preferences” in MBTI terminology.  It does not measure your skills.  If your preference is Introversion, it doesn’t mean you can’t wiggle out of your comfort zone into Extraversion if a situation requires it.  It just means it might feel like a stretch.  And we are not Extraverts OR Introverts.  Our preference is measured on a scale.

Your Type does not change over your lifetime, provided you complete the Instrument with your “shoes-off self” in mind (i.e., the “you” that you are on a Saturday morning).  Many people complete the Instrument in their workplace, which means that they tend to answer the questions according to how they are at work.

About 50-55% of the US population are Extraverts.  About 45-50% are Introverts.  For us Introverts, this means that at work, we are with Extraverts and we may need to “flex” into Extraversion.  This is called Type Development.  Even though we may get better with our flexing over time, it’s still not our preference.

So if you’re an Extravert and you’re feeling stressed about lack of human contact, you have a couple of tools to help you cope:  Embrace your inner Introvert and/or reach out to an Introvert.  Just one at a time—and six feet away.