When you do a Myers-Briggs assessment, you complete a long questionnaire and then you sit down with someone who is trained in the process and you talk through and agree the assessment. I was pretty clear on the other three scores, but on the introversion/extraversion scale I could have gone either way. We talked about it for a while and eventually agreed that I was probably an E, ie, preferring extraversion, but very close to the borderline. Since the Myers-Briggs scale is intended primarily to help individuals to understand and work with their own preferences, this was no problem at all; it meant that I just had to bear in mind that I was more or less borderline.
Since doing the test, I’ve come to realise that it was actually pretty accurate. If you met me you might not put me down as an introvert. I come across as pretty outgoing; I can talk to anyone, I can be quite loud and I’m pretty confident and assertive. I’m an experienced amateur actress and an accomplished public speaker. I do a job which requires me to interact with people all the time and I used to travel a fair bit to visit clients all over the world. I don’t think anyone would describe me as quiet or reserved.
And yet… A number of signs of introversion are there. Interestingly, a lot of actors and public speakers are introverts – this form of human interaction is quite attractive to introverts, because whilst you are in front of people, you have very limited interaction with people and all of it is on your own terms. I have always disliked parties and I loathe pubs. When I was younger and went to what in those days were known as discos I used to hate those too. I can’t stand talking on the phone (the single exception, the only person to whom I don’t mind chatting on the phone, is my sister, whom I have known for almost all of my life). And I go through periods, particularly when I’ve been busy and I haven’t had a lot of what I term down time, when I start to feel a bit raw, as though I’ve been ever so slightly skinned. If these periods go on too long and I can’t succeed in carving out some Me time, I start to go a little bit mad.