An idea I hear come up a lot in Personality Typology quandaries is the question of whether one can be both Extraverted and Introverted, sometimes referred to as being an Ambivert. To me this is sort of like asking if a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. The answer depends on how you define it… A tomato is scientifically classified as a fruit, but since it is thought of as savory and not sweet, it is considered by most laypeople to be a vegetable. So one could even call it a Fregetable!
The words Extravert (or Extrovert) and Introvert have different meanings in different systems and contexts. In some systems and in every-day language these terms may refer to whether you are a “people person” or a “loner”. Some people fall clearly into one of these camps, and many don’t. If you are one of the people who don’t fall on one far end or the other, it makes great sense to call yourself an Ambivert to get that point across.
In terms of cognitive functions, however, I and E mean something different than whether you like to be very social or not. It is about what is more “real” to you, and how you get mentally energized.
- Introverts experience their inner world as more real and more energizing than taking action and interacting with the outer world.
- Extraverts experience the outer world as more real and more energizing than being still and reflecting on their inner world.
Note that this has nothing necessarily to do with whether you like to be around people!
For example, one of the more common I/E mis-typings I’ve seen is ENTJs believing they are INTJs. ENTJs are very action-oriented, they are one of the most “can do” types, with hardly any barrier between conception of an idea and taking action to accomplish a goal. Guess what has a tendency to get in the way of accomplishing things? Other people! Other people – their wants and needs and hangups and hesitations and distractions and desires for pleasantries and idle conversation and getting offended if one doesn’t humor them… This can lead to ENTJs associating people with frustration, and preferring to work alone. They are also master delegators, so they can quickly assign a mission to someone and then go back to project management in an abstract sense, physically removed from the other people involved. But what is real to them and energizing for them is seeing to it that things get accomplished in the outside world. Most don’t consider themselves “people-oriented” or terribly social.
Another example is INFJs often identifying with social descriptions of Extraverts. There is little more satisfying to many INFJs than quality time with their loved ones. An INFJ is incredibly attuned to people in general, but particularly to their chosen people, to the point that “their people” are mapped into their own inner world. Thus it is not a drain on their mental resources to be around these special trusted people. It is even energizing because it is feeding more and more richness into their inner sense of the deepest truths of the world where they draw their energy and sense of wellbeing from. They aren’t having to expend mental energy to re-calibrate to the demands of the environment and people’s needs and emotions, because they know these people like a part of their own mind. It is like an all-you-can-eat banquet of mental and emotional yumminess to be around people they love and who truly know and accept them, so energizing! This doesn’t make them an ENFJ when they are with their loved ones, it makes them an INFJ who is enjoying wonderful fulfillment from sharing their mind garden with those they feel safe with. IXFPs also tend to be energized by listening in one-on-one conversation, even with strangers if they are tapping deep into that person’s multi-faceted experience of humanity, something the IXFP experiences through their inner self reflection on their own values and emotional experiences.
Another way to look at the mater of ambiversion is that yes, we all are both extraverted and introverted! Any person needs a capacity to get real world feedback as well as to self-reflect. Our brain wiring reflects this by having strengths in both these realms. One of our top skills (cognitive functions) will be outer world oriented, and one will be inner world oriented. Can we vacillate between them to the point that we can not be described as one type or the other, vacillating between I and E? Not if we look at it in terms of where we really get our energy and sense of self. One of the functions will be energy positive, and one will be enjoyable and operating at a high level, but at a bit of a cost. This is what keeps the Briggs-Myers type constant despite the presence of and enjoyment of both social and solitary activities. For more on why Briggs-Myers type doesn’t change, see this post:https://www.facebook.com/DEwellness/posts/1531053120307657
To sum up, social activities may be energizing to an introvert, not because of the people/real world interactions, but because of what those interactions do to stimulate their inner world experience. Being alone may be energizing to an extrovert because it may maximize their capacity to do whatever it is they do best in their environment. In some systems the former may be classified as an extravert based on the enjoyment of interaction with people, and the later classified as an introvert because they’d rather be alone. Those forms of classifying aren’t wrong, they are just using a word to mean something different in a different context. So enjoy your Fregetableness or your Ambivertedness! And discover your singular Briggs-Myers personality type to understand how you get the most energy to be your best self by scheduling a one-on-one online live consultation.