The mind and behavior of an introvert can be a confusing one for some of us to understand. For particularly extroverted people the differences in personality can be frustrating to navigate with so much mystery around how and why people the way they are. Specifically in social settings, workplaces or relationships understanding the difference in how people receive, give and process situations is very unique to the person, especially when it comes to introverted versus extroverted personality types. The root of the personality comes into how our minds handle, process and analyze situations. Being introverted may be perceived through a person’s demeanor, but you can also confuse an introvert for an extrovert as introverted thinking is the key to understanding the personality type. Cognitive processes for all people vary, for introverts their process is largely deep analysis, i.e. finding the right word in a conversation or playing out various scenarios and outcomes before they happen, and a tendency to lean towards problem solving internally before taking action.
Many personality tests have covered the way that introverts and extroverts feel/perceive or process the world, most popularly the Myers-Briggs tests. The Introverted explanation in the test reads:
I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INTJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy)
While the thinking definition reads:
T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference or sentiment. When making decisions they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations
An example of an INTJ (Introverted, iNtuition, Thinking, Judgement) personalty type, which is an introverted thinking type is defined as so,
“INTJs are analytical. Like INTPs, they are most comfortable working alone and tend to be less sociable than other types. Nevertheless, INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be pragmatic, logical, and creative. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They are not generally susceptible to catchphrases and do not readily accept authority based on tradition, rank, or title.”
If you’re reading along and shaking your head in knowing, or thinking of someone in your life that possesses these qualities, read further to understand the inner workings of an introverted thinker.
While it goes without saying, “introvert” means; to turn inward or in upon itself: to concentrate or direct upon oneself. Inward/introverted thinking doesn’t always translate when it comes to social interactions as many show. The degrees of difference between how deeply introverted a person is when you add in external circumstances can be wide. There are various layers to an introvert and the main distinction is how they intake information happening to or around them externally. Introverts are more likely to have an internal dialogue with themselves and ongoing internal monologue before discussing, sharing and venting an idea or situation. Extroverted thinking involves more bouncing of ideas with other people, more verbal communication and expression with and for people. For a person with introverted thinking, finding a logical approach and building an internal framework of how the world works, then adjusting, modifying and analyzing that framework over time in accordance with various life circumstance is a part of their daily mental processes. For an extrovert this sort of inward reflection could seem a bit daunting or overwhelming and for introverted thinkers, often it can be equally difficult to manage with day-to-day expectations and stresses. When someone is an introverted thinker they pressure and weight of understanding goes directly on their shoulders.
Once the internal framework or analysis is built internally for an introverted thinker, then begins the consistent everchanging desire for improvement of that internal structure. Introverted thinkers desire efficiency, truth, justice and understanding above most things. You’ll find that in specific life circumstances that involve change, upheaval or misunderstanding the introvert needs to achieve ultimate clarity by gathering all components and pieces to the “how” and “why,” and then piece together the reality an understanding of the overall concept. Details are never overlooked for an introvert. If you have a suggestion or idea, they’ve very likely considered, played out and thought of it already. Introverted thinkers can certainly be stubborn but with the presentation of a new idea or reality they won’t cancel it out entirely, they just have to consider all the pieces and outcomes first.
When an introverted thinker gets stuck in “their way,” of understanding the world or a situation the immovable nature can be a detriment to their relationships or workplace. If an introvert has already determined the way they have played the situations out in their heads as a reality, before actually experiencing the reality they may ignore facts, shy away from making external motion or fall back upon past experiences as proof that their analysis will be the same for a future experience.
Once an introverted thinker has collected the evidence from observation they begin the tedious process of turning problems into logical explanations. To do so, they believe in a process of identifying patterns, measuring, weighing and building knowledge. With all of this analysis there is still an abundance of theoretical possibilities that swim inside an introverted thinkers brain. Within those theoretical possibilities, the introvert can lose sight of the external world while inwardly working towards proving or disproving a theory that’s answer may be directly in front of them.
What Does Jung Say?
For the introverted thinker, while they can come off dreamy and detached, they feel a real sense of problem solving responsibility that they believe will help themselves and others. By finding the subtle and fine distinctions of a thing they’re able to define the thing, give it a name and find comfort in the fact that they have know, “found the answer,” or solved a problem. All based on identification of inconsistencies or flaws within the thing itself. It all sounds complicated and for the introverted thinker that’s exactly what it is, a web that is woven and spun over and over again internally. Carl Jung once wrote on introverted thinkers in “Psychological Types” (1921):
“This thinking easily loses itself in the immense truth of the subjective factor. It creates theories for the sake of theories, apparently with a view to real or at least possible facts, yet always with a distinct tendency to go over from the world of ideas into mere imagery. Accordingly many intuitions of possibilities appear on the scene, none of which however achieve any reality, until finally images are produced which no longer express anything externally real, being ‘merely’ symbols of the simply unknowable. It is now merely a mystical thinking and quite as unfruitful as that empirical thinking whose sole operation is within the framework of objective facts.”
He later goes on to say, “The introverted thinking type is characterized by a priority of the thinking I have just described. Like his [p. 485] extraverted parallel, he is decisively influenced by ideas; these, however, have their origin, not in the objective data but in the subjective foundation. Like the extravert, he too will follow his ideas, but in the reverse direction: inwardly not outwardly. Intensity is his aim, not extensity. In these fundamental characters he differs markedly, indeed quite unmistakably from his extraverted parallel. Like every introverted type, he is almost completely lacking in that which distinguishes his counter type, namely, the intensive relatedness to the object.”
Jobs for the Introverted Thinker
There are so many incredible qualities about being an introverted thinker and specifically in the workplace you can use your analytical brain to find success and freedom. While there’s comprehensive tests you can take on the type of thinker/feeler, introvert/extrovert that you are and get detailed descriptions on jobs and atmospheres where you would thrive, below is a list of jobs that match the introverted thinkers skill set:
- Market Analysis
- Data Research
- Social Media Manager
The list can continue on as jobs that need critical thinking and analysis are plentiful. Once an introverted thinker has defined their personality type it’s important to remember that not all situations are measurable. Being objective and organized may make the introvert feel more stable or secure, but flexibility and fluidity in mind will help their overall worldview and social interactions.