Are You an Introvert or Extrovert? New Definitions Are Revealing.
Dr. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of analytic psychology, originally defined introverts and extroverts back in the early 20th century:
Introvert: “an attitude-type characterized by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents’ (Focus on one’s inner psychic activity)
Extrovert: “an attitude type characterized by concentration of interest on the external object” (the outside world).
Jung believed that all people have both types of personality characteristics but that one was more dominant than the other at a given time. Typically, the popularized version of this concept, which varies significantly from Jung’s original intent for the definitions, depicts extroverts as talkative and friendly and introverts as quiet and thoughtful.
These popularized versions of the definition have been largely unchallenged over time. Many of us have a self awareness about the type of personality we have based on these definitions as it pertains to being an introvert or extrovert. But a new definition of terms may have you changing your mind, and considering many new possibilities that define your personality.
The New Definition
According to a post on scentificamerican.com, the definition of introvert is changing. What in the past has been ascribed to introversion and extroversion is really more appropriate for describing an entirely different part of a person’ personality. What we may have referred to as introverted might just as well be an indication of intellect. What we describe as sensitive might just be narcissism disguised as sensitivity. In essence, the popularized notions of the two terms are being redefined.
In light of this, you might consider taking their quiz (it’s about ¾ of the way down the article) to determine where you belong.. You may learn that you aren’t what you thought you were or that you are a little of both, called an ambivert. In fact, the new definitions have many combinations, much like the average order at your corner Starbucks. For instance, I’m a half-intellectual extrovert with a rich fantasy life and a dash of introspection.
So…Which is Better for Customer Facing People?
So the question is, which type of personality is better for your customer experience? Before reading this, I would have quickly answered extrovert and wondered why you asked me such an obvious question. But with this new definition of terms, the answer is decidedly less obvious, especially when you consider that everyone is a little bit of both from time to time.
Matching the right employee to the right job is an important part of keeping your customer experience a great one. Not only does it promote a better experience for the customer, but you are also likely to have a better shot at employee engagement, or the level of emotional engagement your employees have with your brand promise. If you have a person with skills that match their job descriptions, it promotes a better culture for everyone involved.
So even with the new definitions of introversion and extroversion, it is likely going to be true that a person with a lot of social skills and who enjoys being social is going to do well in a position that deals with people. While both introverts and extroverts have social skills, the general consensus is that extroverts are fueled by social interaction and renew their energy from having it while introverts are taxed by social interaction and need more time to recover from it.
On the other hand, extroverts can be needy for positive attention and ultra sensitive to criticism. So are they the right people to handle customers, that as we all know are not always forthcoming with positive attention? When you look at it that way, it might be better to have a more analytical person handling the customer who has a natural intellectual curiosity, which is a trait associated with introverts. They may not be as assertive as their extroverted counterparts, but they might have a tougher skin.
That being said, I don’t think that extroverts are extroverted all the time. Likewise with introverts; they are not introverted all the time. Everyone needs alone time to recharge at some point. Everyone gets offended by other people’s behavior at times. What I do know is not enough thought is put into the selection of Customer Ready employees.
So…are you an introvert or extrovert?
|Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world. He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX