We were at a social event over the weekend, a fundraiser - lots of people, music, food, adult beverages, dancing, silent auction - so, when I say a social event, I mean the whole package.
The “we” that I am talking about would be Michele, my wife and partner, and me. At one point, we were chatting with a friend/acquaintance (I’ll come back to this in a bit) and she was talking about her very outgoing husband and how at these types of functions she tends to stay in one place while he “makes the rounds”. She talks and visits and sees all of the people she knows, but compared to her husband it almost seems that she stays in one place.
Michele jokingly said, that’s just like us - we’re “The Hermit & The Hurricane”. We all laughed and she added - he likes to hole up in his cave while I spin around and around - we all laughed again, and then she added the obligatory “not really”. And though she was being funny, there are certainly flavors of the truth in what she said.
I have a clear preference for introversion, and she has a clear preference for extraversion. I’m not really a hermit and I don’t really have a cave, she’s not really a hurricane - and while she does interact a lot more than me she is far from simply spinning around. We are fortunate in a way, both of us were familiar with Myers-BriggsⓇ and our own preferences before we met. We have talked, joked and even argued about preferences many times over the last five years.
For me, a social event (e.g. this fundraiser) can be fun and exciting and simultaneously exhausting. It can take a lot of energy to stay “on” and to continue to be engaged in new conversations and introduced to new people, over and over. I’m not shy nor am I a wallflower, I enjoy people and socializing and interacting. I am also aware that it can take a lot of my energy and leave me feeling wiped out.
Michele has a different experience. She is energized by by those interactions and conversations and meeting new people (i.e. making new friends). For her, with a preference for extraversion - that is what she is doing, she is making new friends. Those of us who prefer introversion, tend to take a slower approach - the vast majority of people I meet start off in the “acquaintance” category and with time and positive interactions, you eventually move into the “friend” category.
I want to make a quick pause here, there is no right or wrong here - that is always my main point any time I work with a leader or group on MBTIⓇ. No preference is good or bad, they just are. My personality type work tends to focus on a two step process: step one - understand your own preferences, step two - understand that others may have different preferences, and that is very ok. Two steps, that’s it. I’m ok, you’re ok.
Now, that doesn’t make it all magically easy. The Hurricane may experience The Hermit as a stick-in-the-mud, because I really just want to stay home and enjoy a quiet weekend. And, The Hermit may find The Hurricane hard to keep up with because seriously I don't think I can learn one more name at this get-together.
I see one of the keys to our successful relationship being an awareness of not just our own preferences, but also each others preferences. Extraversion is as much a part of who she is as her dark hair. I don’t have to analyze it or judge it or assess it; I simply have to accept it. She does the same for me.
Learning to get along better with those that are different that you can take some time. Awareness is that first step, becoming aware of your own preferences and that others may have differing preferences. Next come communication and managing expectations, but that is for a different discussion.
Take a look at the people close to you. How are you similar? How are you different? How do you manage those differences? What do you love about them? What drives you a little crazy? And, most important - How well do you accept them for who they are?