Most everyone seems to have an idea of what the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extravert’ mean, and most of us probably put ourselves in one of the two categories. But do we really know the difference? Most people actually don’t.
I’ve met a lot of introverts who thought they were extraverts and vice versa. The perception seems to be that social = extravert and shy = introvert. But it’s actually more complex and interesting than that.
For example, you might be surprise to learn that Lady Gaga, who’s a very lively, dynamic performer, is actually an introvert (ISFP), while Henry Rollins, who has a bit of a reputation as a loner, is actually an extravert (ENTJ).
So how does this really work?
The short and simple version is that introverts charge their energy using a process that takes place entirely within their minds, while extraverts charge their energy by interacting with the world directly.
So introverts can be very comfortable in social situations or on stage. They’ll just need more alone time afterwards to recharge.
Likewise, an extravert could lock himself up in a room and write a concept album, but he’d need to get in enough social time on the side to periodically recharge.
So how can you tell if someone is an introvert or an extravert?
One of the first things to look for is vocal projection. With some practice you can actually detect, in many cases, whether or not someone is an introvert or extravert just by listening to their voice.
Introverts ‘spend’ energy from an internal ‘energy bank’. This being the case, they’ll be conservative in how they expend this energy. Introverts can project their voices quite loudly, but this is done consciously and judiciously. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (INFJ) and his ‘I Have a Dream‘ speech vs. his normal talking voice.
Here are a couple of extreme examples from the music world to help illustrate the difference. Listen to how Michael Jackson is much more reserved in how he expends his energy through his voice. David Lee Roth projects his voice openly since he gains energy by interaction:
Michael Jackson (ISFP)
David Lee Roth (ESTP )
So are you an introvert or an extravert? This is just one of many things we’ll establish and discuss in a live profiling session.