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Reading Behavioral Clues to Myers-Briggs Personality Types: Extraversion/Introversion & Sensing/Intuition Preferences

Reading Behavioral Clues to Myers-Briggs Personality Types: Extraversion/Introversion & Sensing/Intuition Preferences

Written by Pamela Valencia, Solutions Consultant, CPP Professional Services

After identifying the preferences in your team or group, the next step in improving relationships is learning to identify behaviors typically associated with each preference. Being able to recognize what behaviors “go with” which preferences will enhance your ability to flex your style to better connect with others and be more effective.


So what behaviors are associated with which personality type preferences? Answering this question can be complicated because people have a choice in how they behave. So even though I try to observe, sometimes I will ask outright. One key question/observation for me when it comes to Extraversion and Introversion is whether a person likes to talk out an idea or prefers to think through an idea thoroughly before presenting. Does that individual say, “I think I have a general idea of what I want to do, can I bounce some ideas off of you?” or, “Okay, I have really thought this out and I want to get your opinion.”? It can be that subtle.


Extraversion and Introversion are about how we get energized and where we direct our energy. Within these two preferences, there are many subcategories—for example, how we prefer to initiate communication with others, the depth and breadth of our relationships, and how much we share about ourselves. Here comes the tricky part: We all extravert and introvert. If we have a preference for Extraversion, then our dominant or favorite part of our personality will be extraverted. Then, because we need balance, our auxiliary or second favorite part of our personality will be introverted. Similarly, if we have a preference for Introversion, then our dominant or favorite part of our personality will be introverted and our auxiliary or second favorite part will be extraverted.


That’s why it is important not to generalize—“The talkers are Extraverts” and “The quiet people are Introverts” is far from correct. We all have a preference for one element in this pair over the other, and recognizing the energizing component goes a long way toward helping us better understand each other and avoid conflicts. Does an individual mostly prefer self-reflection time, appear contained, and wait to be invited into conversations? Or does she seem to initiate discussions and conversations most of the time? Does a person prefer to provide feedback at a later time rather than be called on in a meeting? Does he say he wants to work out a situation and talk it out without input from you other than the occasional nod? These are all observations that can help us better understand the preferences for Extraversion and Introversion.


Sensing and Intuition, the preferences that describe how we like to take in information and the type of information we trust, also provide observable characteristics. With a preference for Sensing comes the gift of specifics and detail. For example, my eight-year-old niece, who likely has a preference for Sensing, takes her homework very seriously. If her mother doesn’t explain a problem using the exact same sequence her teacher did, she believes her mother is doing the problem incorrectly.


The gift of the preference for Intuition is the effortless possibility of “what could be.” For example, I recently posed a question to a class participant with a preference for Intuition. She responded, a little flustered, “I’m sorry, I was already thinking about how I was going to implement the training program when I get back. What was the question again?” A colleague with a preference for Sensing was reviewing a slide presentation. As she reviewed the slides, she pointed out that one of the pictures portrayed an out-of-date computer. I had never noticed that; with my preference for Intuition, I was focused on the big picture (literally) and the concept representation was more important to me than the details. While both preferences bring value to any team or group, it’s understanding and appreciating those differences that makes an impact on relationships.

(This blog has been broken up into two parts. The second part can be read here!)

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