As Canada Day passes and I travel across the country, I cannot help but reflect upon the beautiful diversity of our landscape, our cultures and our people. Where else can you see prairies and mountains, oceans and woodlands, booming metropolises and icebergs? This is truly a wonderful place to live! As I ponder this great expanse, my thoughts turn to some of the research I have been doing on personality. How do Canadians rank?
According to Myers-Briggs the first character trait to explore is extroversion and introversion. The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, for those who are not familiar, is the most well-known and most replicated personality assessment of our age. It was first published in 1962 and is now accessed over two million times a year, by people all around the world. The Myers-Briggs Company continues to follow Myers’ guiding principle: that understanding personality and differences can change the world for the better. I thoroughly support this sentiment.
I think as a country sitting just north of the most extroverted nation in the world, we are often identified as the quiet neighbours, the polite ones, or even the introverts. Is this only as a comparison to the bold and occasionally bombastic U.S. of A? No, in fact, the Angus Reid Institute in 2019 found that seven in ten Canadians self-identify as introverts.
What exactly is the difference? Carl Jung was the first to define the introverted/extroverted personality types. Jung believed that extroverts directed their energy outwards – towards others – and gained energy from these encounters. Introverts, on the other hand, tended to focus their energy inwards, towards more solitary, thoughtful and less robust activities to recharge their batteries.
Those of you who know me, are aware that I am an extrovert. I have to admit that being an ‘extrovert’ is pretty nice. Extroverts enjoy being with people. We even get energized by being in the midst of large groups. We stay up late, have lots of friends, and are often sought out for our winning personalities and social flexibility. Some research even suggests that we are more intelligent than our ‘introverted’ peers. Well, why don’t we take a look at the science to see if any of the above description might be a wee bit overblown.
We know today, that introversion and extroversion are not black and white concepts. Instead they are representative of a spectrum of internal and external values. Some of us are ‘very’ introverted. Others may just ‘tend’ toward introversion while also enjoying and benefiting from some extroverted activities. It is true that extroverts get a lot of attention. We also tend to put ourselves in positions to do so. Many extroverts are speakers, leaders and innovators. Being an extrovert has become particularly valued in our western culture, whether we are north or south or the border.
I have to tell you, as I reviewed the research, it seems like our introverted friends are getting overlooked. There are any number of well-known introverts who were great speakers. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Ghandi are just a few. Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Warren Buffet were all leaders in their particular areas. Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs were exceptional innovators. All of these people were introverts.
It is clear that there are exceptional introverts as well as extroverts. Sometimes it is the situation that defines the success rate of the individual. Extroverts for example are better leaders. But only when their workforce is more passive and looking for direction. Introverts, it seems, are better leaders when the workforce they supervise is more proactive and independent.
There is a study that identifies that extroverts tend to be more intelligent than our introverted counterparts. But introverts tend to get higher marks throughout school. They tend to be more reliable and stick to deadlines where the extrovert may push a deadline back or miss it all together. Both can be fantastic CEO’s.
Extroverts tend to speak about their ideas out loud as they are forming them. Introverts study and research and then discuss their ideas after they have been more fully formed. Is one way better than the other? No, speaking out loud doesn’t reflect how good your ideas are, nor does studying in a vacuum. It simply identifies the strategy we use to organize our thoughts. Is one group happier than the other? Apparently not.
We are just different. There are benefits to both personality types depending on the specific situation. There are actually few of us that are extremely extroverted or extremely introverted. Most of us are ambiverts; we have aspects of both traits. Although Canadians may have inherited some of the “British reserve” we are not incredibly different, speaking from a personality perspective, from our friends to the south. We may behave differently but this is related more to culture than to personality.
To learn more about personality assessments and how understanding them could help you and your business follow me on my social media accounts (listed below) or if you would like to discuss taking a personality assessment, please call or use the link below to book a call with Simone Usselman-Tod.
Stress Management and Mindset Breakthrough Coach,
Certified NeuroChange and NLP Master Practitioner and Coach.
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