Today, I’m welcoming Gary Benton back to the blog to share more with us about his understanding of Myers Briggs. We use Myers Briggs quite a bit in my office, and I value its ability to help understand people. Gary is a Myers-Briggs practicioner and you can learn more about what he does at reuniteperson.com.

It was the night before a big conference that my wife Amanda and I had been counting down the days to. She had invested a great deal of time into the logistics and I had been asked to do a short presentation about personality. At the last minute, the team decided that my part ought to be a mixer rather than a talk, which made most of my prep obsolete.

Amanda explained to me on the phone what they were thinking, what time I had, etc. She started throwing out a few ways I might approach my time. She waited patiently for my reply and… nothing. After a few moments of strained silence I said, “I’ll call you back in twenty.”

Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time this had happened, so nobody panicked. Twenty minutes later I had an elaborate set of notes, questions, and charts on how I would divide the room all to present back to Amanda. She was able to give some helpful feedback, but I was basically ready.

Chalk it up to introversion, right? Not exactly. Despite being an introvert, I’m the one who seeks out speaking in front of crowds, and the first to get antsy on a quiet night at home. Amanda and I are both what has been called ambiverted — neither here nor there when it comes to interaction. The difference is in our functional stacks, that second level of understanding that makes up the DNA of each Myers Briggs type. We don’t have space to go into how it shakes out, but here’s why it matters:

Google Drive vs. A Flash Drive

As an INFJ, I have the following functional stack:

  1. Ni (Introverted Intuition)
  2. Fe (Extraverted Feeling)
  3. Ti (Introverted Thinking)
  4. Se (Extraverted Sensing)

My wife (ENFP) has the reverse:

  1. Ne (Extraverted Intuition)
  2. Fi (Introverted Feeling)
  3. Te (Extraverted Thinking)
  4. Si (Introverted Sensing)

So we’re both ideas people first (intuition), values-oriented second (feeling), problem-solvers third (thinking), and observant, detail people last (sensing). That said, we approach each function in the opposite way. The functions I extravert, she introverts, and vice versa. The night before the conference we had a matter of ideas and problem solving — a chance to engage our Intuition and Thinking. Amanda was ready to brainstorm and problem solve on the phone. But for me, that meant getting alone.

We could detail out the differences in expression for each function, but think of it this way: your extraverted functions work like a business account Google Drive. Everyone’s contributions are welcome, and the goal is to achieve a final result that everyone likes but is a mixture of everyone’s input.

Your introverted functions are more like your most precious work saved on a flash drive. You’ll only entrust it to people you know will treat it with respect. I may need to get alone with my ideas, but I love to share my values with others and provide an eager ear for theirs. Amanda is the ultimate collaborator when it comes to ideas and strategies, but she’ll only let you know her feelings if she knows you won’t step on them.

What I’m getting at is that extraversion/introversion isn’t a matter of thinking some things “in your head” while having to talk others out. It might start there, but the end result is more profound. It plays into our worldview — how we expect others to interact and on what levels we expect them to contribute. It also plays into our productivity, our quality of life, and our ability to bring the best out of others. Have a conversation with your loved ones about your Google Drives and your Flash Drives. Learn to respect what others hold dear and encourage what is bubbling up from inside of them.

In reality, we all are ambiverts, extraverting some things and introverting others. Getting to know the deeper workings of your personality, especially the introverted and extraverted functions, is a few hours that will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]In reality, we all are ambiverts, extraverting some things and introverting others.[/tweetthis]

Next Steps: A great resource for this subject and for personality in general is Dr. A.J. Drenth over at PersonalityJunkie.com. At the home page, click the “profiles” tab and find your personality – each profile contains a detailed examination of the functional stack. If you have any other questions, shoot me an email at reunitellcdenver@gmail.com. Thanks!

Join me every Friday for tips on investing in yourself and others.