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Working with Personality Type—Part 1: Extraversion versus Introversion

Working with Personality Type—Part 1: Extraversion versus Introversion

I thought I would write about some basic ways to work with personality differences. These are simple things to think about, but they can be quite effective in your interactions with colleagues, friends, and family. Let me know if you have any additional suggestions.

Suggestions for people with a preference for Extraversion: If someone is walking away while you are talking to him, stop where you are. Give him some space both physically and verbally. Also, think about pausing after you ask a question. Try counting silently for 10 seconds before asking the question again in a different way. Also, try not to misinterpret it when someone doesn’t seem as engaged as you are.

Suggestions for people with a preference for Introversion: When someone asks you a question, sometimes your best response is, “Give me a minute to think about it.” That way, the person knows she has been heard. Work on paraphrasing and leaning forward for people who need more immediate communication. Remember, when a person with a preference for Extraversion interrupts you while you are speaking, it may just mean she is really interested in the discussion she is having with you. As someone with a preference for Introversion, I tend to close down when I’m interrupted. Instead, I need to try to stay in the conversation by interjecting (interrupting back) or at least to let the other person know to expect additional thoughts from me later that day.

Be sure to check out the Introduction to Type® and Communication booklet.

Next: Sensing versus Intuition


  1. I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. Interrupting someone is rude, and personality type is no excuse for rudeness.

    • Thanks for the continuing discussion Andrea. A good thing for people with a preference for Extraversion to consider is to count to 10 slowly after they ask a question. That way, the person with a preference for Introversion has time to process and is thus less likely to be interrupted. For the Introverts, be sure to immediately say “Give me a minute to think about it” so the Extravert knows she/he has been heard.

      • I think I need some clarification here. When you talk about interrupting, do you mean cutting someone off in mid-sentence? Because that’s a sign of disrespect and disregard for what the other person is saying. If you’re talking about jumping in after someone completes a thought, that’s different.

  2. Two people who like and trust each other and are fully engaged in the subject at hand can interrupt each other a lot and hardly even notice.

    I am an introvert in almost every way, but when I am excited or passionate about something, I have to really watch to keep myself from interrupting.

    My husband, however, who claims to be an extrovert, shuts down when interrupted.

    Funny, huh?

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree that when I’m comfortable with someone I can be as engaged as anyone. For me that also relates to the mental function that I extravert. I’m an INFP which means I extravert Intuition. Your reply reminded me that type is more than each individual preference. For the examples you bring up, type dynamics needs to be brought into the picture. I’ve written a couple of past posts on this topic and will try to write more soon. I’d recommend an excellent booklet titled Introduction to Type(R) Dynamics and Development. Here’s a link:

  3. Good post. That’s something I’ve learned with my ENTP husband. It used to really bother me when he interrupted me, and sometimes it still does, but I also know that for him, it’s an indication of enthusiasm. If I try to make him wait until he’s finished, he often will forget what it was that he wanted to say in the first place.

    I still find it rattling if it occurs with someone I don’t know well, or if I’m with a group of people that are all interrupting one another. It winds up feeling too competitive for me and I wind up clamming up, after which I start to space out.

    • Thanks for the comment. I like your example of flexing to your husband’s type.

  4. I am an INFJ. I have “problems” at meetings, in groups, discussions, when there is a lot of interrupting of speakers. I raise my hand to speak. The group always get a kick out of that but I can’t always be sure some has finished speaking and the others just jump in.

  5. Good article. I’m facing many of these issues as well..

    • Thanks for reading.

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