Appreciating Differences - Jack Falt - Ottawa area, Ontario, Canada

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Appreciating Differences

Whatever Do They See in Each Other?

This column, written by Jack Falt on personality typesis a regular feature of Energy Medicine. It was first published June 2000, Volume 2, Issue 5. See the previous articles on this site that describe the meaning of the four dimensions of behaviour personality type measures.

Have you ever asked that about your couple friends? Maybe you have even asked it about your own relationship. Opposites do seem to attract. He seems to be so quiet and deep and she seems to be so outgoing and bubbly. Or it may be the opposite with the man being the one who slaps everyone on the back while she seems to cringe at the thought of meeting new people. These are the extremes of course, but often with a couple one will be the Extravert and the other will be the Introvert. The quiet person feels more secure when the other partner goes out and makes the first moves. The outgoing person appreciates the partnerís ability to be calm and cool in the middle of lifeís storms.

We have an inborn preference for either Extraversion or Introversion. This can create some problems for couples. The Extravert prefers a more active social life. There needs to be lots of people in his or her life. The Introvert prefers more quiet time by his or herself, time with family and a few close friends. The couple has to come to a balance that they both can feel comfortable with.

Jerry, an Extravert, has finally realized that Sue, his wife, an Introvert, is much more comfortable about going out to social events if Jerry introduces her to people and helps her find common interests that she can talk to them about. Sue likes to meet new people but usually doesnít know what to say after she has said hello. He needs to include Sue in his meetings with others, filling her in on things that are of interest. Of course Sue has responsibility here to interact socially with the group as well, but with Jerryís help will find the transition much easier. After meeting with the group several times, Sue will begin to know people and depend less on Jerry to help her through this socially awkward period.

Brian and Margaret were having supper together. Margaret, the Extravert, as usual was carrying most of the conversation. Brian, the Introvert, replied in monosyllables. Then some comment that Margaret made really upset Brian. Brian was obviously annoyed; but when Margaret wanted to talk about it, Brian just clammed up and refused to say anything. He just got up and went to work at his computer. Margaret wanted, even needed, to settle what had been the problem and get it out into the open right now. Brian needed time to think about it. In reality Brian was not able to put into words why he was annoyed. When finally Brian had thought the problem through, Margaret seemed to be occupied with other things and so Brian didnít say anything. He figured it was best to just leave it as it was, not realizing that Margaret still very much needed to know what was going on.

Being aware that Margaret was an Extravert and Brian was an Introvert, Margaret might have said, ďIím sorry if what I said upset you, but I donít know what it was. Will you think about it and maybe we can talk about it later tonight?Ē Or Brian might have said, ďIím really not sure why I am feeling upset. Give me a bit of time and then we can talk about it later.Ē Knowing Brianís reluctance to bring up controversial matters, Margaret perhaps could initiate the talk a little later in the evening.

If you donít know what an Extravert is thinking you havenít been listening. If you donít know what an Introvert is thinking you havenít asked. These two statements sum up the main differences between the two preferences. The strong Extravert often gives a running commentary on what is going on in his head. The Introvert does this mental process inside her head and edits out most of the extraneous ideas. You may or may not be privileged to hear the final result. It is not that the Introvert is deliberately trying to hide her thoughts. It just may not seem to be important to her or worth the effort. In disagreements and marital fights, the Extravert may say things he will later declare he didnít mean, and this is true. It just didnít get edited out before it came out of his mouth. The Introvert can be so busy inside her head processing what is going on that it may seem if she doesnít care, or is withholding her feelings. Understanding your partnerís preferences will make it easier to accept what is going on and to come up with mutual strategies that will help make the inevitable conflict times easier to deal with.

Not all couples consist of one Extravet and one Introvert. They can both be Extraverts or Introverts. However, if they both have the same preference, likely one will take on the role of being more Extraverted and will be more vocal in their social relationships and in their intimate discussions.

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