I am; however, an Introverted Thinker. Not introverted as in shy, but introverted as used in the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory (MBPI) to mean:
- I gain energy by being alone
- I have a very rich inner life
- I process information by going inward and mulling it over…
…then and only then do I have an understanding of the new information, how I feel about it and how I want to respond. This last piece is crucial to Introverted Thinkers living in this, an extroverted, society, if they want to communicate their ideas with confidence.
One example used is that of a military encampment, where two units are strategizing for the next maneuver. The extrovert sends the General out to discuss tactics with what he assumes is another general, leaving the Aide de Camp in the tent to continue working. What this general doesn’t realize is, for the Introvert unit, the General stays inside making all the plans, and he sends the Aide de Camp out to meet with the other unit’s representative.
Here you have a typical situation for the Introverted Thinker: they have kept their highest ranking member inside the tent and the Aide de Camp is now face-to-face with the Extrovert’s General, who is ready to go—and plying this poor, little private with all kinds of important questions: What do we do next? What do you think? How do you feel about…?
The General feels quite comfortable asking these questions, which he would feel quite comfortable answering. But the Aide de Camp can’t answer most of these questions; he has to go back into the tent and consult with the general.
This is this illustration’s way of saying that Introverted Thinkers have to go within and “mull it over.”
Have you ever felt like a lowly Private trying to keep ranks with a General?
When I explained this to a client recently, he had a “light bulb” moment; realizing, for the first time, that he rarely knows exactly how speak off of the top of his head. He is a highly intelligent IT guy, originally from China, but educated in the U.S. He came to me for English Language Coaching and Accent Reduction because he finds himself hesitating in his speech, which is, in part, due to speaking English as a second language and, therefore needing to search for the right words. But, he is also just an Introverted Thinker. Once he identified himself as an Introverted Thinker he was armed with new information to use in his personal communication style.
Having the realization is often liberating enough, without having to do anything differently. The most important phrase for an Introverted Thinker to learn is:
“Can I get back to you on that?”
It’s also useful to be comfortable with silences in the conversation, which buy you time to think.
It’s also helpful to use some Free Writing to access some core ideas ahead of time... I’ll write more on Free Writing in a future blog post.