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“I read once that when working with an introvert, you might need to wait seven seconds after you ask them a question in order for them to respond. With an introverted colleague in the office, I started silently doing this and it worked! They answer at seven seconds every time!”

I’d never heard this about my personality type before, and it doesn’t necessarily fit me, but I could see how it would perfectly describe the response time of other introverts that I know.

My friend and I were just chatting – wandering from topic to topic like good friends tend to do but since she was just discovering that I’m an introvert to her very definite extrovert, the topic kept coming up.

At one point, I mentioned that I’d thought of inviting an introvert to hang out, but noticed they were maxed out and so let them slip away home alone.

“Wow – I don’t think I would even know what that looked like!” my extroverted friend exclaimed. “What signals does an introvert give off when they just need to go recharge a bit?”

I started listing the ones I’d seen in my introverted friend on the day I’d mentioned. “Their eyes kind of glaze over. There’s a sluggishness about the conversation. Thoughts are half-finished. I tend to say things I regret later. They start tuning out of conversations – almost like they’re being pulled away from inside.”

I could see none of this was connecting with my friend, so I added, “The seven seconds to respond probably stretch to fourteen.”

“Aha!” She exclaimed, “Now that I could watch for!”

Her comment delighted me because in the midst of a conversation between an “I” and an “E”, we uncovered another level of difference on the Myers-Briggs Personality indicator. “N” and “S”. These have to do with the ways people perceive information.

“N” stands for “iNtuitive” and describes people who prefer to trust information that is more abstract and theoretical. They’re comfortable with flashes of insight or “gut feelings”.

It shouldn’t surprise you from my response to my friend, that I am most definitely an “N”. I can rarely verbalize why I’m doing or thinking what I’m thinking. It’s just an instinct. And it’s weird to me that not everyone would find that trustworthy. I find myself explaining things with statements like, “You know? You just know”. Or “There’s just this sense that something’s not right”.

Meanwhile, my friend above is an “S”, which stands for “Sensing”. They prefer information that is concrete, specific, and tangible. They like data and conclusions that have a solid base in quantifiable sources. They are frustrated with explanations like ones I prefer to give!

I find personality tests, and especially the Myers-Briggs test, very interesting. And the more people I meet, the more interested I grow in how the facets of who we are interface and interact – sometimes in harmony and sometimes in conflict! – with one another. Just another layer of the amazing diversity we were created with!

I’d love to hear from you on this! Are you an “N” or an “S”? How do you see this difference in the ways we seek information affecting your work and family relationships?

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