This won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s met me, but it may be harder to determine in the blogosphere, so here’s today’s confession: I am an introvert.
Between employers and undergrad psychology classes, I’ve done Meyers Briggs, the DISC test, and Insights. (For those unfamiliar, DISC and Insights are nearly identical, but one groups you into letters and one into colours.)
Each time, the results are similar, predictable, and accurate.
My Insights blocks on display on my desk – in order. This translates to a CDSI for the DISC assessment.
But I don’t really need a personality test to tell me about myself; I’ve long known that a book can be better company than most people.
I’m a “Reforming Observer”
My results don’t bother me and their exactness means I’m not hesitant to share them. I know some people are a bit wary of discussing personality assessments, but I’ve found them pretty on-point when identifying strengths (thorough, organized, logical, problem-solver, reliable) and weaknesses (critical, lacks empathy, avoids social interaction, impatient) – at least for myself.
Some assessments are better than others, and it may be difficult to try to box all people into one of 4, 12, or 16 different types, but they have some use, even if it’s just introspective or an oft-needed reinforcement of the obvious fact that people experience the world differently.
For example, I have a coworker who nearly daily pokes her head into my office to ask me “what’s wrong?” or commands me to “smile!” This baffled me for a long time. Nothing is wrong. I’m just working. But thanks to the internet, a term that plagues many other unexpressive INTJs has become a common phrase; I suffer from RBF. Resting Bitch Face.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you “hate people”. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, stuck up, or lack confidence. Lots of introverts love spending time with other people (like people I know and like) and may even be considered confident and outgoing by those who spend time with them.
This is because the introvert/extrovert scale is about energy: social interaction is tiring to introverts and energizing to extroverts. Someone isn’t one or the other as if there are two buckets, either. Introversion and extroversion is a scale where you can fall anywhere along it with varying degrees one way or another, and you can be different things in different situations (at work vs. as home, for example), and also be different things when tired or stressed (e.g., often introverts will be naturally more introverted under pressure).
As far as social interaction is concerned, introverts and extroverts approach it and value it differently. As an introvert, I’m much more comfortable hanging out in small groups of people I already know and having conversations of substance. Talking about the weather or what day of the week it is just seems pointless to me.
This means blogging is right up my alley; I’m able to prepare and process information carefully before sharing it – though I also understand how extroverts would be attracted to blogging as another way to interact with lots of different people.
A networking event with strangers or mere acquaintances where you’re forced to small talk is my personal hell. I’d rather public speak in front of a room of 300 hundred strangers than have to mingle with those same people at a cocktail party. And there’s hardly a thing such as “awkward silence” to me, since I’m perfectly happy not to speak if there’s nothing worth saying. Morning elevator chit-chat? Shooting the breeze with the hair stylist? Someone who answers more than “well, thank you” to a polite “how’s it going?” THE. WORST.
And I’m certainly lucky I landed The Husband long ago, since my INTJ results astutely identify that I have “little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation”.
So what does this have to do with Moses and Alma?
In retrospect, Newfoundlands are interesting dog choices for introverts.
Walking 280 pounds of dog around the city daily is not inconspicuous. In fact, you are a spectacle. You draw attention, comments, and queries.
Me walking Moses, Alma, and pal Juniper. What’s normal for me can be quite the sight for others.
This is something I certainly never considered when we were looking for the right dog for us. Newfoundlands seemed like the perfect choice as far a size, temperament and lifestyle goes. But no one warned me that simply owning Moses (and then Alma) would challenge my comfort zone as an introvert.
Don’t like small talk? Well, prepare yourself for having the exact same conversation every dog walk:
No, they’re not ‘black St. Bernards,’ they’re Newfoundlands.
180 and 100 pounds.
Yes, he’s big for a male and she’s smaller for a female.
No, they’re not related.
He’s from a breeder, she’s from a rescue.
Yes, they drool.
Yes, they shed.
No, our house/yard isn’t huge.
Yes, they eat 5+ pounds of food per day between them.
If they eat that much, how much do you THINK they poop?
He walks a bit funny because he’s had spinal surgery.
Yes, it gets old. But it’s part of the gig as a Newf owner. You literally stop traffic from time to time.
I admit I’m not always interested in entertaining a typical exchange – I’m out enjoying fresh air and free time with my dog and I don’t do it to meet people.
But Moses and Alma bring me lots of joy. They’re great dogs! They’re funny and social and stinking adorable. I think they’re awesome, so it should be no surprise to me when other people do, too.
Why should I stand in the way of them providing random passersby with a little joy, too?
So rather than always being a dog walk Grinch (sometimes I still am), I do suck it up and frequently engage in the boilerplate conversation with strangers about my dogs.
Look at me being social and acknowledging the feelings of others!
And besides, socialization and practicing polite greetings (with people and dogs) is always good for Moses and Alma.
Sure, being an INTJ or a Reforming Observer may mean I’m impatient with small talk, but it also means I’ll go on endlessly about things I like and think are interesting, and I think this blog is Exhibit A to my dogs being one of those very topics! And if I’m being honest, dog-walk-small-talk (say that ten times fast) is far less painful than “chilly out there, eh?”
Moses and Alma definitely mean I talk to more strangers (and neighbours) than I normally would, but your comfort zone won’t expand if you don’t push it from time to time.
And now any extroverts reading know that if they plan to train, like big dogs, and can handle the drool… well, then a Newf might just be the perfect dog for you!
Curious about what your Meyers Briggs results might be? This test is free and not too shabby. Once you have your results, you can search lots of resources for information (typefinder.com, for example, is pretty detailed).