Friday, February 12, 2010

Getting Into Character: The Introvert

It's Friday, so I want to talk a bit about personality. This applies to all of us and is useful if you are a parent, a spouse, a friend, or if you are a fellow writer and want to cast a particular character.

We each are born with specific traits that add up to make our personality. There are a whole lot of other areas--learning style, love language, gifts--that also weave together to make us the uniqe tapestry we are, but those are for other discussions. Today let's look at the "Introvert", the flip-side of what we talked about last week, the "Extravert". This is the way a person is energized. Remember, Extraverts get their energy from outside themselves--through their encounters and activities with others. Like not all Extraverts are loud and boisterous, not all Introverts are shy and quiet. Some very out-going people are also Introverts. It is all about how they charge and re-charge.

Introverts get their energy from inside themselves--their ideas, emotions, impressions, and thoughts. They process things internally and therefore often keep their ideas and thoughts to themselves, at least until they have had a chance to ponder them sufficiently. They will require time to process before sharing in a group and will often pull away to be alone after spending time with others.

Introverts might be described as reflective, quiet, and think-before-speaking people. Others might say the Introvert is focused, reserved or a loner. They often like to concentrate their time and effort on only one activity at a time. They are distracted by interruptions and are more likely to step aside and let others lead. They can be protective or their thoughts, their time, and their relationships. Others may feel the Introvert is aloof or lazy because of their lack of sharing and action.

You may see yourself in this description and, if so, rejoice in the fact that you seldom regret things you've done or said in haste. You are content in spending time alone and don't often get bored. You also need to be aware that those around you--your family, co-workers, and friends--might feel abandoned by you if you don't intentionally take time to connect with them. People might view you as snobby or stand-offish if you always keep your thougths to yourself or don't make it a priority to share with others. It is also important to remember that you can spend too much time thinking, planning, and processing and never get anything accomplished.

Remember that opposites attract, so if you are not an Introvert, there is a good chance your significant other is one. Now you can understand why she needs time alone after work or why he seems distant after an evening with friends. Your Introvert honey will benefit from times of quiet reflection especially after you have been in a group or when there is a situation that needs action. You will make her day if you take the kids so she can have an afternoon alone or if you chat on the phone in another room and let him read his novel or tinker with the computer in silence.

If you see your child in this description, you might need to light a fire under your child's...well, rump. The Introvert child will likely spend a good deal of time playing alone, reading or writing. Your child will need your help to develop friendships and activities outside himself or herself. S/he will also require time alone. Respect the boundaries s/he sets and be open to talk or listen after s/he has processed thoughts and ideas. If you are not an Introvert, remind yourself that silence doesn't always mean something is wrong.

If you see yourself in this description, but not your spouse or your child, you will need to balance your need for quiet reflection and their need for talking things through or spending time together. If you need time to process, let your spouse or child know when you will be ready to talk. This will go a long way in heading off hurt feelings.

I am a classic Introvert and so is Justice. His desire to play sports and be with his friends can make for a very grumpy young man unless I schedule times of quiet in his day. It is not uncommon for him to experience major meltdowns after returning from overnighters with friends. When the kids were small and all home during the day (or even now, during summer break) I required at least an hour of each day be spent alone. They could listen to books on tape, nap, read, color or play quietly. I needed the time alone and so did Justice. After their time apart, they always played together better. Justice was happy because he felt re-charged and Jewel and Jot were happy to once again have playmates. Both Extravert and Introvert children will be likely to share at bedtime, but for different reasons. The Extraverts will try to keep you in the room longer so they have company. The Introvert will have had sufficient time to process and will now be ready to share.

Who do you know that fits this description and how does this information help you in your relationship with him/her?

Next Friday in Getting Into Character, we will look at another facet of personality--how you perceive and take in information.

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