How to Motivate Introverted Employees

Do you have an employee who gave the first impression that they are a very thoughtful, creative, and smart person?  Even though this person can produce high-quality work from time to time, they seem a bit distant and uncommunicative or even arrogant…

The chances are your new employee is an introvert!  You wish there was a way to motivate them and make that employee more productive and communicative.  The solution is first to understand how and why they are different, to realize that their minds are made-up differently from the mind of an extrovert.  

Introversion versus extroversion:

The basic definition of introversion versus extroversion is that extroverts are more comfortable with and prefer to direct their mental energy toward the outside world, other people, or objects.  In contrast, introverts tend to prefer living in the world of their minds and their thoughts.  When introverts are forced into a team or a very crowded environment for too long, the situation will deplete their energy, and they will become very drained. 

Introverts gain energy from the comfort of their inner thoughts and feelings

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was the first to distinguish extroversion and introversion, the two major orientations of personality.  We continue to learn from Jung’s findings and ongoing psychoanalytical research leads to greater understanding of personality types to help managers in the workplace.

Cognitive sciences have discovered two main ways that introverted minds are different:

1.    Introverts process incoming information more slowly because they filter information thoroughly before considering the input. Their neural pathway to process information is longer than that of extroverts.  This is because they use the parasympathetic side of the brain, and the pathways are much longer, meaning they need more time for the information to be processed.  Hence introverts can easily become over-stimulated with too much external information from the environment. 

Scientists can detect the differences between introvert and extrovert babies as early as four months old. Extroverts easily take stimulation because the two parts of the brain they use have a much smaller pathway than introverts. This neurological difference explains why extroverts tend to be active and action-oriented, actively seeking out stimulating experiences. While, in contrast, introverts tend to be more idiosyncratic in their preference for a slower and manageable pace.

Scientists can detect introverted babies as early as 4-month old!

2. The second difference is that because the part of the brain used to process information and the part of the brain connected to communication and processing verbal input are quite separated in introverts.  Hence, they can go on for long periods of time without talking or communicating with other people.   Conversely, an extrovert will get the juices flowing, think, and speak at the same time.  They will enjoy brainstorming with other people, thinking and talking simultaneously.  

So, when you know these differences, you can begin to understand why there are behavioral differences between introvert and extrovert team members.  You see, it’s not that your introverted employee is having an attitude or trying to be distant on purpose; it’s just how their brain works.

How to spot an introverted employee

They tend to be

  1. Calm: He or she exudes a calming presence.
  2. Listeners: They tend to listen more than they talk.  This is especially noticeable in a team meeting when they appear more reflective.
  3. Having subdued Dress Style: Introverts tend to dress subtly.  Their clothing is usually understated, preferring dark colors.  They don’t want to stand out too much.  Compare this with extroverted employees who dress in more vibrant, outstanding colors and styles.

In fact, a lot of people think that introverts are a minority in the population.  However, many surveys have shown that introverts and extroverts are actually about 50/50 in a population.

The reason they seem to be the minority is that they don’t compete with the extroverts for attention.  They don’t speak up that much, preferring to think through the information before voicing an opinion.  They’re the silent half of the population! Another possible explanation is that many introverts would put on an “extrovert mask” on social settings to blend in better (even if it’s pretty draining), giving the impression that there are ways more extroverts to the untrained eyes.

Introverts bring unique strengths to the team

Now you know the differences between introverts and extroverts, you can appreciate the unique strengths of the introverted employee:

  • Because they spend more time reflecting and coming up with something that is truly unique, you can expect their work to be more creative and original.
  • You can also expect them to be thorough and meticulous because they think things through and process a lot of information inside their head before they talk about and show the result.   
  • Lastly, introverts have high moral principles.  Most of the time, introverts value their integrity and authenticity very highly.  It’s a useful attribute to balance the team in the workplace, especially against the fast-paced and cut-throat cultures of many workplaces nowadays.

How to motivate the introverted employee

So, how do you as a manager nurture and encourage better productivity and motivation from an introverted employee?  There are four ways you can do it:

1. When you assign them some work or a task, give them a lot of upfront information so they can process it, but then give them space.  There is this golden rule of two to forty-eight hours, depending on the complexity of the task, that works very well with introverts.  Give your introverted employee the time to think through all the input and process the information. In return, they will give you very thorough and very considered work results. 

2.  The second way you can help them is to complement their weaknesses.  Since they are a more reflective and somewhat individualistic employee, you can support them with your own strengths or that of another team member:

For example, you can provide them with social connections to others in the team.  Because it’s usual that introverts find it challenging to initiate social contact themselves, you can quickly introduce them to other team members.  By introducing them to other stakeholders that are relevant o the project, you help them to be able to touch base and integrate into the team.

You can assist an introverted employee by introducing him or her to other stakeholders/coworkers

3. You can assist them by giving clear deadlines and KPI expectations.  Because introverts are so reflective and usually perfectionistic, they are not good with deadlines.  So, you need to be clear regarding when you need the result.   When you have clear KPIs, they are certain of your expectations, and you can best optimize their thought process and creativity.

4.   Lastly, keep your introverted employee motivated.  Once they have finished their work, it’s important to praise the work, but moderately, because they can easily detect unnecessary and superfluous compliments.   So give them the praise that they deserve for their originality and creativity.  Praise them for their hard work and their meticulousness.  This valid, genuine praise will be a sure way to make sure you keep your introverted employee happy and motivated.

Conclusion

When you are aware of introverted characteristics you are better able to manage introverted team members.  Doing so is a case of considering how the different personality types function.  Introverted employees are motivated by receiving information in advance of meetings, enabling them to think about the content prior to the meeting.  Introverts will also think about ideas and get back to you later with their contributions.  A manager who considers personality types of the whole team are rewarded with wider contributions and a happier team.  

References:

https://www.lifehack.org/412467/why-introverts-are-introverts-because-their-brains-are-different

https://www.insperity.com/blog/managing-introverts/

How to overcome perfectionism

If you are someone who struggles to get started on a project or to complete complicated projects, you may be a perfectionist.  Things can never feel good enough and you may get stuck in a painful spiral of paralysis by analysis! Perfectionism is a much more complex personality trait than many people realize.  Ultimately, it is the desire for perfection that drives the perfectionist mindset. 

The perfectionist personality can be healthy and highly effective when high standards are required.  Healthy perfectionism can drive a person to achieve success, and it can be a valuable trait for overcoming adversity for some, it sets high self-motivation skills.  However, perfectionism is frequently a self-sabotaging behavior; perfectionism can also be a toxic trait that leads to a downward spiral of despair, anxiety, obsession, and feeling overwhelmed.

The root causes of perfectionism

Perfectionism likely stems from genetics or experiences in early childhood.  Opinions vary around whether perfectionism is a learned behavior or if some people are predisposed to perfectionism.  Some believe that a person may be genetically predisposed to perfectionism.  Scientific studies of twins indicate that genetics rather than upbringing and circumstance predispose a person to perfectionism.  The studies discovered that identical twins had a much closer perfectionism score than non-identical twins.   

However, many experts maintain that perfectionism can also be a learned behavior.  When a child is raised with high or even unrealistic parental expectations or those who never felt good enough or who learned to gauge their value by their achievements may learn to embrace perfectionism and show classic perfectionist traits. 

4 strategies to effectively overcome perfectionism:

1.   Acknowledging that perfectionism isn’t perfect

Whether the source of perfectionism is genetic or learned from environmental factors in early childhood, it is frequently a problem to be overcome for the successful completion of projects. Many people believe that the psyche of the perfectionist leads to high standards. However, that is not always the case because the high standards set by perfectionism may come at a price. Perfectionism can be a barrier to effective, efficient productivity. Furthermore, perfectionism is likely to stunt creativity, delay action, and create unnecessary stress for those involved. 

The first approach to dealing with your perfectionism is understanding the perfectionist trait. The better you understand perfectionism, the better you can work through the negative aspects of your perfectionism while utilising the advantages that perfectionism brings.

Perfectionism is a single personality trait that exhibits in three ways:

  • The self-oriented perfection which sets unrealistic aims to be perfect oneself  
  • Other-oriented perfectionism which is imposing unrealistic perfectionism onto others
  • Social perfectionism is having a perception that others require perfection from them.

A manager with perfectionism sets themselves or their team unrealistic goals. Frequently, the hardest part is getting started. The perfectionist usually sees things as success or failure; there is no in between. The problem is that this idealistic outlook means that you do not always live up to the exceptional standards you set yourself. You become so fixated on the end goal and making sure that the end project is perfect that you fail to start the project at all.

2. Pareto Principle or 80/20

As well as overcoming procrastination and failing to get started through over-analysis, there are recognized principles that can help you get started, including the Pareto Principle or 80/20 system. Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, developed the Pareto principle in 1896. Initially relating to the ownership of land in Italy whereby 80% was owned by only 20% of the population. He also observed the principle in other areas of his life. As well as economics, you can observe the phenomenon in sports, business, and time management.

Identify highest-impact priorities first

The Pareto Principle is a system worth investigating when you want to work efficiently. The trick is to work smart, not work hard; working hard and always being busy is not always as effective as working smart. The 80/20 rule is about doing the things that make the most significant difference to the project. In other words, use 20% of your time to achieve 80% of your work. It’s worth reminding yourself of this rule whenever you find yourself procrastinating. You can use the Pareto principle to help with time management. Work out the 20% that will have the most impact on the creativity and effectiveness of the project. Break these down into easily managed sub-tasks that help to streamline the project. By concentrating on the most effective areas for moving the project forward, you take giant leaps forward in productivity.

3. Addressing your exaggerated fear of failure

The element of perfectionism seldom encountered when learning about perfectionism is the fear of failure, yet that is the crucial element of the trait that is stalling you when you need to get started on a project. Perfectionism is subjective, and your idea of perfection as a perfectionist is holding you back!.

Ultimately, your fear of failure is holding you back, so you have to strategize to overcome your fear of failure. Finding the courage and resolve to accept that failure is not something to fear, that it is a normal part of growing the project will empower the perfectionist manager to find balance. Furthermore, mistakes along the way are not failures.

As a perfectionist, your fear of failure is so intense that it could hijack the whole project. It’s what holds you back from getting started. However, by learning to utilize the positives of perfectionism in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the project, you effectively manage your perfectionism and have the opportunity to learn from any mistakes. 

The perfectionist mindset will want you to hold onto the project until it is completely ready and perfect. Yet, it may never seem perfect to you. So what will you do then? 

  • Never complete the project and hand nothing in
  • Let down your team
  • Have nothing to show for all the hours spent procrastinating?

Not handing the work in is the biggest failure of all. The worst-case scenario is that it is preferable to do something, to have something to hand in rather than nothing at all. Correctly managed failure is a prodigious step towards the required outcomes.

How the concept works:

  • Firstly, realize that the only real failure is to hand nothing in. 
  • Realize that the project you perceive as not ready is acceptable to everyone else.
  • Realize that we learn through mistakes. 
  • See failure as a neutral, not a negative. Do this by rewording ‘failure’ when you think of it to ‘learning opportunity’.

4. Gain Continuing Feedback for Approval

Regular reporting to your manager or client is a valuable method to stop procrastinating and get the project started, then throughout the project to prevent your perfectionism from impeding progress. Don’t be afraid to ask a member of your team for advice and input. 

Approval from your manager or the client offers a confidence boost when you are at risk of going over and over the plan for the project or the pitch. To overcome the fear of failure requires letting go of control. Plan to report to your manager or client in steps along the way. Accept that each stage is a step towards completing the project. By asking for and gaining feedback at each stage, you will gain their input and ultimately approval about how the project is progressing. You learn from the feedback; it’s a tool to improve the work. 

Feedback helps you adjust your goals quickly

This methodology is similar to the concept of Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”), which is from Eric Ries’ book ‘Lean Startup’. MVP is a mechanism for validated learning through testing market reactions. MVP is a system built around feedback and validation. You use the feedback and validation at each stage of the project in the same way. You can find out more about MVP here.

When you select a trusted person from the team to co-work with, they can reassure you when the work is good enough. By co-working with another person in the team to go over the draft pitch, you may be surprised that the plan or pitch is actually completely acceptable. As a perfectionist, your mindset is biased to look for and concentrate on what needs fixing, looking for the faults and what is wrong. Another mindset will see all that is good about the work. When their honest opinion is that it is good enough, it probably is ready for submission.

Sharing stages of the project along the way will take some getting used to, but once you conceptualize and accept that doing so is a necessary strategy to get the project underway and to its satisfactory conclusion, you will overcome the resistance. 

By gaining approval when the stages submitted are acceptable, you teach your mind to work in a more accepting way. By accepting feedback when a stage is not quite right, you learn from it. You can’t learn without mistakes. Failure or mistakes are an option in stages; by breaking the project down into stages and acting on the feedback given, you are actually getting closer to achieving the perfect outcome for your manager or client.    When you break the project down in this way, each stage becomes a mini-project in its own right, thus simplifying the project into smaller goals which in turn, help it to become less insurmountable.

Conclusion

Various conceptual methodologies help you when you recognize the pull of perfectionism in your personality. We have shared these highly effective methodologies above. When you realize why the perfectionist’s perceived failure is frequently not failure at all, just part of the natural progression of the project, it’s how you learn from the failures along the way that counts. Being solution focussed and thorough are helpful to a project, but being overzealous about perfectionism is not. When you manage your perfectionism effectively, you actually move closer to the perfectionism that you seek through the mistakes made along the way.

References:

https://www.liquidplanner.com/blog/7-secrets-highly-productive-project-managers/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/productivity

https://asana.com/resources/pareto-principle-80-20-rule

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/12/08/a-review-of-the-minimum-viable-product-approach/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/perfectionism

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/understanding-hypnosis/202204/overcoming-perfectionism-can-lead-enhanced-achievement

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/being-a-perfectionist-may-lie-in-your-genes-scientists-112110500378_1.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/perfectionism

https://allthingstalent.org/2019/07/24/managing-perfectionist-workplace/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ert.21370

https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-to-overcome-perfectionism

Perceiving Cognitive Processes: Intuition & Sensing

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test and framework have popularized the concepts of extroversion, introversions and the cognitive processes that you probably have heard of: Thinking vs Feeling, Intuition vs Sensing. However, these concepts were first introduced in the early 20th century by Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), a famous Swiss psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology.

Understand the fundamentals of these processes is crucial for any further learning and reading of MBTI-related theories and Jungian psychology. At the very least, you will be able to decipher the various functions that make up your personality type and how they interact together to form your unique cognitive patterns.

So let’s dive in to the first pairs of two opposite processes: Intuition and Sensing! If you prefer to watch instead of reading, below is a detailed video explanation I have made on the same topic:

The Definitions

This dichotomy is how we perceive and make sense of information, either in a dominantly concrete or abstract manner.

Concrete information is tangible sensory information, something that you can feel, see, taste, hear. With regards to time, it’s also related to what is here and now, what’s currently going on in society and most immediate environment. Jung termed this process of accessing concrete information: sensing and those with this preference are called sensors

Abstract information is intangible conceptual information, such as reading between the lines, metaphors, meaning behind things, future possibilities … The person likes to think far ahead, using past data to foresee future outcomes and behaviors. The process of using abstract perception is termed Intuition and the people who prefer it over sensing are called intuitives.

We both can use sensing and intuition at will, we have preference to prioritize one over the other. Our preferred side is more dominant, natural, and more developed like the left and right hand. Sensors are generally better at noticing and remembering details of a discussion while intuitives often only remember the key points or vibe. 

 Intuition dominantSensing dominant
How an intuitive and sensor notice a book in bookshop differently (in order
of what the person see first)
Essence of what’s it about
Relevance to me
Seem a bit worn out
Eww one corner is torn off!
The cover design is corny
What is it about?
Example of how an intuitive and sensing person would notice an object differently

According to statistical studies, Sensors significantly outnumber Intuitives in the general population.(70-75% of the population are sensors). It is a big advantage if you are aware of the sensing-intuitive difference because this dichotomy is often a common source of misunderstanding in work and personal relationships.

Sensors look for concrete facts and details and take things as they are and work with them. Intuitives look for abstract patterns and connections because they prefer to deal with the potential of objects, believing that reality can be different or changed, with a hopeful lens for the future. Sensors are more realistic and grounded while intuitives are more idealistic.

When Sensors intuit for too long, they feel impatient with too much theory and abstract thoughts. Meanwhile, intuitives can easily be put off by feeling forced to explain or sequence “every little detail” and would rather get back to entertaining new or interesting possibilities to restore equilibrium to their personality.

Evolutionary and social roles

Many would think that Intuition – the ability for more abstract thinking should exist only in humans or modern humans but the truth is both Intuition and Sensing exist in animals too. A lot of animals are known for their gut feeling or ability to memorise patterns (like salmon or birds that migrate thousands of miles to the places they are born). Of course, abstract thinking is more pronounced in humans because we have developed tools like languages and the concept of time, which significantly boosts our capacity for abstract thinking.

Any MBTI types are capable of both, as mentioned above. The average humans, regardless of types, are capable of comprehending and using way more abstraction than any other species on planet earth. I suspect that the part of Intuition and Sensing in our brains are pretty distinctive and mutually exclusive. However, why don’t we all evolve to become abstract thinkers? 

Because both ways of thinking are important to get any society or any project to function. It is a matter of spectrum. For example, Einstein came up with the E=MC2 formula, which is an example of highly abstract work! But society don’t just exist out of a formula! We need to further “concretize” the abstraction into practical and applicable tasks – the realm of Sensing. We further apply it to build space craft, atomic bomb… then we need people who like to take specific instruction on how to make that part of the space craft, what color is the craft, what materials is it made of… down to the smallest details!

What does it mean for you?

I hope the overview above gives you a more accurate and objective view of the two primary modes of information perception in the population. Keep it in mind when you interact next with other people and see if you can tell if they are sensors or intuitives. Two people of the same types will have an easier time communicating while you should be a bit more mindful of people who do not share the same preference. In essence, intuitive people love abstract and somewhat theoretical discussion while sensing-dominant people want to know the details and concrete steps.

No preference is better than the others. We have our respective social roles and strengths and weaknesses. In particular, if you are an intuitive, you might be the minority but with great potential for big-pictured thoughts and acquisition of abstract and innovative information. If you ever feel misunderstood or broken in some ways cause you are not in tune or don’t care about the latest social trends or norms, it’s ok. There are other people like you and there are exciting discovery ahead when things start to make sense and you will finally discover your true identity and purpose, even if it takes slightly longer than usual.

Introversion vs Extroversion: A Jungian Perspective

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.

While his predecessor, Sigmund Feud, explored the personal unconscious, Carl Jung studied and developed the unconscious further to show the collective unconscious, which represents a form of the unconscious common to mankind as a whole. Carl Jung was the first to distinguish the two major attitudes or orientations of personality – extroversion and introversion. He also identified four basic cognitive functions (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting).

To continue, you can read the article or watch the video version instead:

What is Extroversion and Introversion in Carl Jung’s original work?

This dimension has to do with where we naturally direct our energy and recharge as well as our first order of importance: the inner world vs the outer world:

  • Inner world is made up of thoughts, ideas, memories or so-called the subjective experience that is unique and aware of only by the individual
  • Outer world is made of people and experiences outside of one’s self, or the “objects”

Extraverts have a stronger relationship with the objects of the outer world because they feel a stronger cognitive need for frequent interaction with the world. To Extraverts, what’s going on outside is more important than what’s happening inside. Overall, they are more “action-oriented”.

Introverts have a stronger relationship with the inner world because they feel a stronger cognitive need to connect with their inner subjective experiences. To introverts, what’s happening inside is more important than outside. They are characterised for being more “reflective”.

A good metaphor for extroversion vs introversion is land vs water. You can naturally be comfortable in both, but to an extrovert, the outer world is like the shore and the inner world is like water. They can certainly enjoy staying in water but where do they eventually get respite from? The shore. Vice versa for introverts, the inner world is like the shore and the outer world of objects is the water!

Neurologically, Extraverts and Introverts have different  pathways in the brain for processing information. Extraverts use a shorter pathway and are much faster at processing incoming information from the world. Therefore, they have a higher tolerance for stimulation and tend to actively seek out stimulating experiences. 

Introverts’ pathways are much longer as the information is processed and filtered internally. They are easier to suffer from “information overload” given the same amount of external stimuli. Hence they prefer a slower “reflective” pace and tend to avoid situations that might overwhelm them. This difference is noticeable in babies as young as 4-months old!

According to statistical studies, Extraverts and Introverts are roughly evenly split in the general population, with a few studies finding a slightly greater number of Extraverts

References:

https://mbti-notes.tumblr.com/

Valid or pseudo science? A brief history of the MBTI

Carl Jung and cognitive functions

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. He was one of the best students and confidants of Sigmund Freud, a forefather of modern psychology who is well known for the discovery and study of the unconscious. The unconscious is defined as a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of conscious awareness. Many of these unconsciousness are influenced by our early memories as an infant and young child.

While Feud theory is only about the personal unconscious, Carl Jung studied and developed the unconscious further to show the collective unconscious, which represent a form of the unconscious common to mankind as a whole and originating in the inherited structure of the brain. It is distinct from the personal unconscious, which arises from the experience of the individual.

He was the first to distinguish the two major attitudes or orientations of personality – extroversion and introversion. He also identified four basic functions (thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting) which in a cross-classification yield eight pure personality types. He advocates for individuation, which can be defined as the achievement of self-actualization through a process of integrating the conscious and the unconscious.

Jung’s theory is less mainstream than Freud’s as it is very abstract and related to the magical realm of dreams and historical symbols… However, the testimonials for the soundness and usefulness of his work are the continued development of his theory into more structured framework by renowned psychologist in the field such as Isabel Myers, Linda Beren, Lenore Thompson, Dario Nardi..

About the MBTI

The MBTI by Isabel Myer is probably the most popular (extremely popular to be exact) with 1.5 million people taking the official test each year and almost 90% of Fortune 500 companies using them. Its popularity certainly drew criticism with questions from the scientific community about its validity and reliability as a test.

Jung’s theory is less mainstream than Freud’s as it is very abstract and related to the magical realm of dreams and historical symbols… That is one of the main reason for the MBTI being questioned in its scientific foundation as well as the its accuracy as a psychomtric test, which is another matter and debate on its own.

However, the testimonials for the soundness and usefulness of his work are the continued development of his theory into more structured frameworks by renowned psychologist in the field such as Isabel Myers, Linda Beren, Lenore Thompson, Dario Nardi…

Recent discovery in cognitive science does reveal and prove that introversion and extroversion exist as real pattern in the brain with extroverts having the thinking and talking parts wired together while for introvert, they can work independently. Dario Nardi’ Neuro science of brain scan book, he used EEG method to show that across hundreds of participants, similar MBTI types do have similar brain activity patterns at work or when in flow.

Example of brain scan images of different MBTI types – Credit to Dario Nardi

The importance of having strong sense of self

What is a sense of self

Your sense of self refers to your perception of the collection of characteristics that define you. It refers to what you think are your personality traits, strength and weaknesses, like or dislikes, moral values and your goals and aspirations…

Why is it important?

Self-confidence

Having a strong sense of self allows you to appreciate both your strengths and weaknesses. It allows you to be at peace and comfortable in your own skin and not too affected by people’s opinions. Otherwise, you will be pushed around and feel bad about things about yourself that you shouldn’t


Motivation and making decisions

Knowing your likes and dislikes from small things like the choice of food to bigger things like the kind of career or life partners you want will allow you to make decisions quickly and confidently. You won’t have to spend time agonising and taking forever to decide or worse, simply choosing jobs or settling for relationships because that’s what your parents or other people choose for you.

And of course, if you have a strong enough “why”, you can go through any “how” to achieve your dream goals and career outcomes.

Relationships

Besides that, your sense of self allows you to be confident in choosing the right friends and partners, but also allows you to communicate and manage relationships better. You won’t have to deal with crippling anxiety when trying to speak up your mind at your jobs. You can become a better leader in the workplace. You can tell your friends or partners clearly what you like or dislike to keep a healthy boundary.

How to build self-identity?

To build a strong sense of self, from young kids to adults, we need time to experience and explore, to fail and learn about what we like, dislike and our strengths and weaknesses. Having the right theory of mind based on rigorous frameworks will also help to allow you to build a more accurate picture of yourself faster.

Quotes

One of the reasons for learning about type is to recognize that we are constantly motivated, simply by the way we’ve established our neural networks, to shape reality along particular functional lines. Another is to recognize the possibilities for growth and change that exist within—and apart from—the framework we have created for ourselves.

Even small changes in our usual way of doing things can make big differences in the way our brain is operating. We develop the ability to think in new ways, and this stimulates creative change in all areas of our lives.

Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual

Why Does Your MBTI Make You A Late Bloomer

Source: truity.com

Let’s face it, even in the 21st century, what society defines as success is still very much materialistic. Whether someone is considered to do well in life depends on how high is his or her earning, his material possession and other status symbols including having (attractive) romantic partners.

The average income chart above by MBTI types portray a perspective of success. The highest earners on average are ENTJ and ESTJ while the lowest earners are INFP and ISFP. Overall, higher scores on extraversion (E), thinking (T), sensing (S) and judging (J) better predict financial success.

The reason that I phrase this article as “late bloomer” is because even though there is no survey that I know of, I do believe the material gap between types will lessen as people become more mature and balanced. The second reason is that even if the gap is still there, you will better accept who you are and the non-material and non-traditional sense of success that you create, which will give you better self-confidence and happiness down the road.

Introversion

There has been a rising support for the power of the introvert in the past decades with many books and articles that talk about the hidden advantage of being an introvert. They might be stereotyped as wallflowers who are meek and easily pushed over.

The truth is that introverts are not the minority. They are almost equal in the share of population as extroverts and introversion and shyness are not the same, though they can be easily mistaken. Introversion simply means the information pathway/ processing is longer and consumes more energy. Hence, introverts tend to think more and are easily overwhelmed and overloaded by external stimuli.

It’s easy to see how introversion leads you to become a late bloomer. Life is tough and complicated at the start. You can easily be overwhelmed by the world when younger and it will take longer for introverts to consolidate and master this wave of insights and nuances in their brilliant but overwhelming minds. 


Not only can introverts catch up with extroverts later in life in material success, their insightful minds allow them to excel in highly skilled and specialised careers such as writer, scientist and philosopher. These careers might not be the best paid, but they have the potential to be highly celebrated and propel society forward.

FEELING

If your type has letter F instead of T, you lean more towards feeling, which has to do with either intrapersonal or interpersonal relationships than efficiency and logic (T).

Feeling (Fi) can either be introverted or so-called intrapersonal (most dominant in INFP and ISFP) or extraverted/interpersonal (Fe) (which is dominant in ENFJ and ESFJ). Introverted feeling will likely have it the hardest at younger age because it is very hard to express and easily misunderstood. It is primarily concerned with moral right and wrong, living authentically and freely according to their inner compass of beauty.

This inward feeling may make you artistic yet impractical because deep down you yearn to express something of profound beauty but also makes you unable to take on more practical tasks and jobs, which feels inauthentic to your being. It will take time and sometimes luck to find a path that is both spiritually fulfilling yet lucrative. Introverted feelers like ISFP and INFP make the best artists and poets but their path will be long and rocky.

Extraverted feeling users, especially introverted ones (INFJ and ISFJ) would also feel underpar because they find it hard to assert themselves and risk upsetting others. This function chiefly concerns maintaining a harmonious social atmosphere, causing you to feel it hard to just simply put people aside to get what you want. But humans are ultimately social creatures and being able to get on the good sides of the group often can take you far ahead, including in finance and career.

INTUITIVENESS

I believe the Intuitive (N) – Sensing (S) dimension is the most interesting yet often overlooked in MBTI. Only about 25% of the population are intuitive, so they are way more rare than introverts! You can think of the intuitive-oriented person simply as a nerdy book-smart kind of person who is more interested in philosophy and theories than concrete facts and actions.

Intuitives, especially INFP, INTP, ENFP and ENTP (extraverted intuition) are often scattered-brain big-pictured people who have a hard time being decisive. To them the world is full of possibilities where traditional and well-accepted concepts like marriage, houses, children and even money should be questioned and explored.

With so much information and so many questions being shifted and synthesized, no wonder it takes longer for them to reach a stable stage in life. They make for smart students but somewhat clueless and restless young or even middle-aged adults while their sensing-dominant peers have happily accepted and settled into more traditional paths and roles.

However, the gift of this unconventional and big-picture mindset is the potential for paradigm shifting and holistic perspectives. Survey might suggest that intuitives earn slightly less than sensors but one reason is because the former takes longer to systhesise their perspectives, which can go beyond the immediate needs of themselves and families to challenge the status quo and propel society’s understanding forward. They make for wise and profound innovators and teachers of arts, philosophy and sciences.

So in conclusion, even if you are at the receiving end of all the disadvantaged factors above, like even in the case of INFP and ISFP, don’t be discouraged. Your mind is uniquely created for a special purpose with unique strengths and values. Of course life is tough for everyone and everyone needs a certain degree of material and practical success, but social contribution and your path to success are just not in a traditional sense. Your life purpose might be more towards helping others or helping society make new breakthroughs or to find the secrets of the universe, at the expense of the practical aspects – and that is ok!

3 most common INFP Enneagram subtypes

While MBTI is based on how different types process and judge information differently, Enneagram categorizes people based on the patterns of trauma responses and core emotional motivations.

So think of your MBTI type as cognitive habits and patterns, while the enneagram tells you the purpose of these patterns. Two people may have the same tools (the mind) but having different purposes and drive in life will result in two very different characters. Similarly, two MBTI types might be trying to achieve the same purpose in life despite having very different cognitive tools.

Quick definition of INFP personality type


INFP, sometimes called the Mediator or the Idealist, refers to one of the 16 MBTI Types which has a dominant function of Introverted Feeling (meaning individual sense of morality) supported by their auxiliary function of Extraverted Intuition (a.k.a divergent abstracting thinking). They are characterised as gentle, peaceful yet quietly holding down a fountain of passion and optimistic ideals.

The 3 most popular Enneagram types associated with INFP type are Enneagram 4, 9 and 5. To read the full study here, click here. Read more below to find which flavors of INFP do you possess.


Most common: INFP with Enneagram 4 (the Artist)

Enneagram Four, nicknamed the artist or individualist, is described as self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally open, creative, and personable, although they may be grumpy and self-conscious at times. They may feel scornful and exempt from common ways of life if they isolate themselves from others because they feel weak and flawed. Melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity are common concerns for them. At their best, they are able to reinvent themselves and change their experiences since they are inspired and very creative. Read more.

To deeply understand their behaviours, we need to understand that Enneagram 4 is in the Heart center (with the primary emotion of shame). They want to feel love and personal significance while avoiding shame (judgement by others). While Enneagram type 2 and 3 also primarily deal with shame, type 4’s unique unconscious coping mechanism is to think of themselves as unique or uniquely defective. This means society can’t judge them on the same standards because they are one of a kind characters with a one of a kind life mission.

Being the most common among INFP, no wonder that  Enneagram 4 INFP fits the typical INFP description so  well: artistic, creative with a deep longing to find and realize their unique paths in life. They make the best poets, artists and entertainers thanks to their keen sense of individualism and emotional sensitivity.

Second most common: INFP with Enneagram type 9 (the Peacekeeper)

The general Enneagram type 9 is characterized as accepting, trustworthy, and steady. They are inclined to go along with others in order to preserve the peace. They want everything to run smoothly and without confrontation, but they may also be complacent, simplifying situations and downplaying any negative aspects. At their Best: tenacious and all-encompassing, they have the ability to unite people and heal conflicts. Read more.

Unlike Enneagram 4, type 9 is in the body triad (together with type 1 and 8), which means they are more driven by a desire for autonomy instead of love. To go a little bit deeper, type 9 is governed by anger (and they resolve by unconscious complete denial of anger) instead of shame. For INFP, this should translate into a more stable and down-to-earth character than the typically turbulent INFP profile because deep down type 9 wants to be left alone instead of seeking love or validation from others like Enneagram type 4 does.

Enneagram type 9 is nicknamed the Peacekeeper. INFPs with this Enneagram are no exception, which means they are happiest and most suited for practical actions instead of creative arts. Think of nurses, peace corp volunteers or even law and security enforcers.

Third most common: INFP with Enneagram type 5 (the Investigator)

Slightly more rare but still the third most common among INFP,  this subtype possesses the inquisitive and powerful mind of Enneagram 5 which is nicknamed the Investigator. Enneagram 5 has the ability to focus and concentrate on very complicated concepts and planning. They might get absorbed with their ideas and imaginative structures while being independent, clever, and ingenious. At their best, type 5 is visionary and pioneering in the pursuit of knowledge. Read more.

While INFP with Enneagram  4 and 9 above are governed by the Heart and Body respectively, Enneagram type 5 is in the Mind triad. This means they care more about security and are more driven by anxiety a.k.a not having enough knowledge to deal with the outside world.

As dark as it sounds, this characteristic anxiety also induces an effortless sense of wonder and curiosity towards the world. People of this type love knowledge and competency. INFP with Enneagram 5 will likely be very suited for serious research and study, especially those that have humanitarian or altruistic bends, like curing diseases or solving hunger.


Of course you can identify with all of these types as we all possess all 9 Enneagram types to different extent. However, you can find your core type much better by pinpointing and relating to the deepest and most overarching pain and desires of the types.

Don’t feel like any of the 3 types above fit? Explore other Enneagram types and decide for yourself at https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/. For INFP, the other Enneagram types are more rare but certainly possible!

The Psychology of Curiosity: an introduction

“Curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections. It has an appearance of giddiness, restlessness, and anxiety (Edmund Burke – an Irish philosopher)”

Speaking of curiosity, people usually come up with the idiom curiosity killed the cat. Why does curiosity seem to be associated with such a negative connotation? Is this also a popular perception of our daily lives and in society? In this article, I shall walk you through the definition, main types of curiosity and how it varies among in individuals

1. Two main types of curiosity

Curiosity is a critical cognitive function that influences human’s behaviors. From a broader perspective, curiosity might be seen as a stepping stone for major developments in science, decision-making, and learning. According to Psychology iresearchnet, curiosity is “a motivational state involving the tendency to recognize and seek out novel and challenging experiences”. 

Since curiosity originates from the thirst for new knowledge, it differs from other positive emotions. For example, joyful feelings such as enjoyment and cheerfulness exist when an individual already has a clear picture with ample necessary information regarding the experience. Curiosity, on the other hand, occurs when someone feels the excitement of explorations with uncertainty, hesitation, and lack of information. 

Curiosity has been classified into two main types: perceptual curiosity (or cognitive curiosity) and epistemic curiosity (or sensory curiosity). The definition of these two types lies in the matters that one is curious about. Cognitive curiosity describes the desire for new information and knowledge, or in general, cognitive matters. 
Sensory curiosity expresses the yearning for new sensations and thrills. This type involves the exploration of novel physical experiences such as do something for a try, go for an adventure, pick up a new sport, etc.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Albert Einstein

2. State versus trait : the opposing theories on the origin of curiosity

The concept of curiosity is central to motivation. Whether curiosity emerges internally or externally remains a controversial debate. However, this leads to two distinguished classifications of curiosity types: state and trait. Both of the terms determine how and why humans get involved in curious behaviors

a. State curiosity is externally stimulated

When curiosity is used as a description of specific behaviors towards a stimulus, it is known as state curiosity.  This is a state of increased arousal response stimulated by an event or activity in which an individual gains nearly no essential information in advance. It is generally based on an external situation that evokes the curiosity-driven behaviors of an individual.

Suppose you happen to know one of your friends is intrigued by the universe and always asks several questions during the National Geographic Cosmos series, or your family members wonder about the wide-opening window from the neighbor’s house during wintertime. In these cases, state curiosity appears to be the most suitable description for these behaviors. 

2. Trait curiosity comes from internal urge to gain knowledge

The concept that curiosity resides from the inside is called trait curiosity. This relates to people who have a strong interest in acquiring novel knowledge and experience, simply for the sake of learning and self-discovery. For instance, if some of your classmates have the following characteristics: highly self-motivated by discovering theoretical knowledge, being curious and passionate about trying new sports or travelling to new, unknown places, we can say these people have trait curiosity.

3. Different individuals experience different levels of curiosity and the matters they are curious about


When people get older, both the types and degree of their curiosity will change. Human beings, at different ages, are curious about different matters. When we are a little kid, we often drive ourselves to a specific  goal: to understand something better at the moment. This explains why kids ask a lot of questions because they are curious about everything and want to know more about it. 

However, when we grow older, we realize life is much more complicated, and we tend to “extend” the initial question, from “why” to “what if”. We not only want to know about present matters but also want more information about the unknown events that are likely to occur in the near future. 

When ones get older, they tend to draw various possibilities; they yearn for anticipating or foreseeing future events for better preparation. The question “why” indicates a thirst for an answer, an explanation, or could be an initial step for a novel discovery. 

“What if” represents one or several possibilities generated from a fact, or a present event that an individual already knows. “What if” plays a vital role in activating the analysis phase in the process of seeking out new information. After “what if”, people tend to define advantages and disadvantages, solve the problem and compare the results. 

As ones grow older, they expand their scope of knowledge and interests. They look at life from different perspectives; hence their curious behaviors tend to change. The two questions “why” and “what if” tend to be combined and used in different circumstances to know and understand things better

4. The 4 components that power curiosity

Curiosity can be induced  by 4 main factors: novelty, complexity, uncertainty, conflict

Novelty indicates the newness, the unknown things compared to prior experience, learned knowledge, and expectations. For example, a 5-year-old kid reads an astronomy comic book. She realized there is a lot about the universe she did not know before, compared to what she learned at school. The more she reads, the more curious she is about the universe. Reading this astronomy book brought her novel experiences, which evokes her curiosity for the universe.

Complexity is a quality that represents the variety of components within the scope of understanding. The more diverse and challenging the components are, the higher level of complexity.

Uncertainty describes the insecure and doubtful feelings when facing an issue with little knowledge acquired. Uncertainty also displays the presence of multiple possibilities and outcomes with almost no knowledge gained.

Finally, conflict describes the presence of a contradiction between what you feel and what you want to do. For example, a conflict might occur when you find a dark place, and half of you want to enter to find out what it is on the inside, and the other half is getting scared of dark places and the urge to turn away.

The four factors that drive curiosity

5. High in curiosity might mean high in openness, yet low in neuroticism

A study by Furnham and Chamorro (2006) discussed the positive connection between curiosity and the five personality traits. In particular, individuals with high scores in openness tend to be more intellectually curious and have more comfortable attitudes and feelings towards novel or challenging activities.

However, research shows that curiosity has a negative relationship with neuroticism. Research by Renner (2007) indicated a negative correlation between curiosity and the control of anxiety. In other words, highly curious individuals are associated with low levels of anxiety. Curious people tend to take challenges in open attitudes and high readiness to confront unexpected risks. They do not seem to get anxious easily, thus being able to control their anxiety more effectively. 

6. Summary

Curiosity has occupied a vital position in the study of motivation, emotion, and cognition since the origins of psychology. To this day, several basic principles and concepts of curiosity continue to confound science. Yet the importance of curiosity in personal development and daily life activities is undeniable. 

Harnessing curiosity in real-life environments, such as in work and educational settings, plays a fundamental role in growing an individual’s ability and an organization’s overall achievements. Albeit certain pros and cons, stimulating curiosity helps nurture personal growth, strengthen social bonds, and sustain our motivation and sense of exploration.