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I took a personality test that left me wondering if I am an introvert. Do I consider myself an introvert when I actually facilitate workshops and training courses? Or could it mean that my personality changes based on the situation and environment?   I am sure there are a lot of people out there who ask the same questions, and can find it a bit confusing when they see people they would consider an introvert display an extrovert personality. You are definitely not alone!

So, who is an introvert or extrovert?  According to the Cambridge dictionary, an introvert is “someone who is shy, quiet and prefers to spend time alone rather than often being with other people.” An extrovert is “an energetic happy person who enjoys being with other people.” Do I agree with this definition completely? No.  No, because I think that an introvert may not necessarily be shy, and in some cases, the energy of an extrovert is as a result of their shyness. 

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On the other hand, the Oxford dictionary defines an introvert as “ a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.” An extrovert, “a person predominantly concerned with external things or objective considerations.” Do I agree with this? Not completely, as being an introvert does not necessarily mean less concern about objective consideration.  Sometimes, the presence of passion for an extrovert may not allow for objective consideration. I believe both introverts and extroverts exhibit different levels of feelings and passion that could sometimes lead to subjective considerations.

Basically, the dictionaries give us definitions of both to help us understand what they mean, not necessarily how they apply to different situations or environments. Personally, I think every human has both personalities in them.  One is more pronounced than the other depending on the situation, environment, topics and skills. For instance, you could be regarded as an extrovert when you show great energy in delivering your submissions about a topic close to your heart. You could enjoy the company of some people, not necessarily people you’ve known, but ones that make you so comfortable that you just become the life of the company. Sometimes, you may feel the need to recharge or move away from all the noise around you. In this case, you become an introvert.  When you feel ready, you become an extrovert by moving towards the noise  – especially comfortable one.

Another good example is the workplace. You’ll find that some staff seen as introverts become extroverts once they’ve found their feet or have a close relationship with their managers and team.  Whilst, others we consider extroverts become introverts when faced with bias, bullying etc. There’s no gainsaying that a degree of bias occurs in the workplace that affect individual personality.  Bias for someone that looks like us, talk like us, feel like us and many more.  Unfortunately, what we end up doing is affecting people’s personalities. So, as we can see situations and environment can play a big role in the personality we exhibit at every point in our lives.

Obviously, there are people who are louder than the others and may choose to become more of an extrovert in most situations.  I see this as the choice they’ve made and are happy to be regarded like so.  There are others who would make the choice to keep low profile because of reasons best known to them.  It’s what they’ve chosen to do and can choose to change it if they feel like so. What I think is that you choose to be an introvert or extrovert, as you deem fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, I would make contributions and honestly don’t care whether you think they are sensible or not, as long as they are my contributions.  I also would want to be able to make the decision not to go to the pub with you because I just feel like getting away from the noises around me. I also don’t think I need to be your friend in a workplace, as long as I get on well with you, get your work done and make the contributions that are necessary to push the workplace forward and this will include in being polite, decent and willingness to work with you.

The long and short of it is we all exhibit both personalities.  One becomes more pronounced based on our choices, situations and environment.  Trying to be an extrovert in a situation that’s not favourable to us may make us come across as an introverts – vice versa. Once you’ve learned to enjoy your personalities, your can get on with the business of being you!

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