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What's a Pseudo-Extrovert?

At today's @aabb Leadership and Administrative Subsection Committee, we discussed the last three chapters of the book "Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by @SusanCain. I presented Chapter 9, "When Should You Act More Extroverted Than You Really Are?" Let's delve into the topics of this chapter, which explore psychological, emotional, and philosophical questions regarding our personalities and the way we may project or behave under different situations or circumstances.

Personality Test

Although I am considered an extrovert (ENTJ-A) based on the personality test, the ratio of extroverted to introverted characteristics was almost evenly balanced, just barely tipping into the extroverted realm. Therefore, I often find myself navigating between these traits depending on the situation.

Check out this personality test: 16 Personalities Test -->

Fixed Personality Traits vs. Situationism

First, we started with the concept of fixed personality traits. This is the idea that individuals are wired to behave and respond in certain ways based on physiological mechanisms, which remain stable across a lifespan.

Juxtaposed to this concept is the idea of situationism, which posits that situational factors predict behavior better than personality traits. Making broad generalizations about a person (e.g., shy, angry, pleasant, gregarious) can be extremely misleading. Situationists believe that the time of day or the environment can dictate how a person will behave. For example, are you more social in the morning? Are you more outspoken when your manager is in the room?

Free Trait Theory

Now consider that these two concepts can live in harmony. This is known as the free trait theory, in which fixed traits and free traits can coexist. We are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits, but we can and do act out of character in the service of core personal projects.

When an introvert extends themselves to exhibit extroverted qualities (e.g., an introvert can be a tremendous public speaker), this is known as being a pseudo-extrovert. Those pseudo-extroverts who have high levels of self-monitoring are known to be champions at behaving like true extroverts. Self-monitoring is the skill of modifying behavior to meet the social demands of a situation. Essentially, good self-monitors look for social cues to tell them how to act. Check out Snyder's Self-Monitoring Scale:

Identifying Core Personal Projects

How would you determine if you are identifying with your core personal projects? Consider these three questions:

1. What did you want to be when you were a kid?

2. Pay attention to the work you gravitate towards.

3. Pay attention to who you admire and want to emulate (what you envy).

The answers to these questions can help you determine if the energy you exert to overcome your introvertive nature is worth the effort. Are you practicing self monitoring for the sake of core personal projects or self negation?

Restorative Niche

Behaving like a pseudo-extrovert can be draining and exhausting. Therefore, it is important to create a restorative niche, a place you go when you want to return to yourself. This can be as simple as closing your office door. What I like about the concept of a restorative niche is that it is a part of your day that you deliberately create to stay true to yourself. My restorative niche is playing Yo-Yo Ma's cello suites on my record player. The soothing études calibrate my mind, body, and soul, and the cello bowings are reminders to breathe. Breathe.

Free Trait Agreement

Finally, give yourself grace. The conclusion of the chapter suggests the importance of a Free Trait Agreement. This involves recognizing and negotiating the times when you need to act out of character for the sake of your core projects and understanding that a compromise exists in what we do in life. As long as we are self-aware and set boundaries, we can acknowledge the adjustments we make are normal and healthy.

By understanding these concepts, we can better navigate the balance between our innate traits and the demands of our environments, ultimately leading to more fulfilling personal and professional lives.

I consider my self an

  • Introvert

  • Extrovert

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