Saturday, July 27, 2013

Two Quiets and an ENP

How's your summer going? Ours has been good. Mine has been great! I've been on a major reading bender, which is pretty unlike me. I've always liked to read, mind you. And I've belonged to a small book club for years. But I've always been a slow reader. So for me to have been through - oh, I don't know - 6 or more books just since the end of May, it's a HUGE accomplishment for me.

I've also had the opportunity to meet some friends one-on-one for a few coffee dates over the last few weeks. Sweetie just finished up a three week Theater Camp at the Boys and Girls Club, during which I was afforded the opportunity to have some free "Mommy time." One day I had coffee with a friend I haven't seen since High School, another time with a good friend I try to have coffee with approximately once a month (but we were overdue this time around), and still another time with a friend from Junior High who I get to see at Book Club meetings, but rarely do we get to see each other when it's just her and me. Fun times all around, and great to catch up with everyone!

Chatting with each friend was great, in its own right. But talking with my Book Club friend, for the purposes of this post, was especially interesting and, ultimately, enlightening. Partly because, of course, we talked about the books we're currently reading. We happen to be on a summer break from Book Club, during which we are free to read what we want from an extended suggestion list each member helped to create. So she and I had some similarities in what we've been reading, as well as some interesting differences. Plus, she's a very prolific reader, so has squeezed in several non-Book-Club related reads as well. Several of which were related to homeschooling, as she and her husband have made the decision to take their 4th grade daughter out of public school and to teach her at home this year. And another - possibly homeschool related, or maybe just something she was interested in reading anyway - called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. 

In terms of what my friend is reading and studying in preparation for homeschooling, she told me how she has also been talking with her daughter's previous teachers, and just turning a keener eye toward how her daughter learns and takes in information. In order to get an even better understanding of her daughter's learning style, she took this child-modified version of the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. The kid's test is really design for a parent, or teacher, to take the test for the child. My friend confirmed this when, after trying to ask her daughter for her own responses, she found that her daughter tended to provide answers for how her ideal self would behave - which obviously doesn't result in an accurate evaluation. So my friend answered the test questions herself, based on her own intimate understanding of her daughter and the information she's gleaned from the teachers. 

My friend had also taken the "regular" version of the Myers-Briggs test for herself and already knew her own results. I don't remember if she shared with me or not, but I do know enough to say that she is an "I" (Introvert) rather than an "E" (Extrovert.) She went on to say that her daughter's results mirrored her own exactly. 

This may make things easier - or, possibly, that much more difficult - for homeschooling. Two personalities that are so much alike. A harmonious relationship, or not? They both soon will see.

At any rate, the whole talk of the Myers-Briggs test intrigued me, as I took several Psychology courses both in High School and College, and remember taking the test myself more than once. Not that I remembered my results at all. I mean, I knew I too am an "I" (Introvert). But beyond that - what kind of personality would this test show I had? I was curious to answer the series of questions leading to my personalized results. And a test for kids?! Very cool. I was also very interested in seeing what kind of results Sweetie would pull in.

Shortly thereafter not only Sweetie and I were taking the test, but Hubby as well. The results? I am an ISFJ, Hubby is an INFP, and Sweetie is an ENP (kids under 12 don't get that last of the 4 letters, as they are not mature enough to have solidly developed a preference.)

Huh. Sweetie and I have no part in common, and she has everything but Extroversion in common with Hubby. Interesting.

Reading the descriptions of these types, I mostly agree with everything. The test, for the most part, pretty much pegged us for how our personalities play out in the real world. It's interesting to read not only our own results, but each other's as well. Interesting to see what each other's strong points are, and how to interact effectively with each other - knowing how each of us takes in and processes information. The only trait of the test that is easily self-discernible ahead of time - Introversion vs. Extroversion - was demonstrated through the test results as well. Hubby and I already knew we were Introverts, while Sweetie is definitely an Extrovert.

So, that was cool...

Then I started reading Quiet. And... it's definitely interesting. It definitely, as my friend pointed out for herself, has me saying "Yeah! That's me!" at almost every turn of the page. At dinner time every day, I'm constantly updating Hubby (and, by virtue of her being at the table, Sweetie) on the new info I'm reading in the book everyday. In a lot of ways, it really is a fascinating read. But...


It sure does paint a less-than-rosy picture of Extroverts. The author is forever pointing out that Extroverts, as a group, are much quicker to speak before they think, less able to hold out for postponed gratification, more likely to charge ahead come what may, less likely to control their urges, to divorce, gamble, smoke, engage in risky behavior, and less likely to feel guilty or embarrassed about any poor behavior that they do participate in. Yes, she does go on to say - quietly - that there are no studies that show either Introverts or Extroverts are more intelligent than the other. But she sure goes out of her way - it seems to me - to showcase just how thoughtful, well-mannered, cautious, and honestly talented and smart (as in, careful enough to think through a situation and end up with the right answer, as opposed to the Extroverts' way of quickly getting to an answer, right or wrong) we Introverts are. Introverts, studies show, are also more likely to feel embarrassed and guilty - in other words, feel worse if we behave badly, and have more empathy if we knowingly behave badly towards another - than Extroverts, she says.

The list goes on and on. Basically, give us Introverts a chance to think through our answers, and be quiet enough to actually listen to what we have to say, and we'll blow Extroverts out of the water every time.

Of course, she does point out the benefits to society, and evolution, that both Introverts and Extroverts offer. But, duh... this book is for Introverts. To point out to us all the great things we've got going for us. Of course the author's going to bag on Extroverts with all the studies and experiments that have been done comparing the two personality traits. Introverts are powerful in a world that talks to much. She's just showing what the book intends to show.

It's all interesting. But. As an Introvert, married to an Introvert, raising an ENP (i.e., Extrovert), I'm more than a little put off by the bum rap all the Talkers are getting in this book.

Sweetie took that kid's Myer's-Briggs test (she, with Hubby and my help, was able to answer the questions quite honestly as I asked them of her one by one). She knows her results. She also knows Hubby and my results. She knows she's an E while we are Quiets. And, yes, I am speaking up each night at dinner to tell of that day's information I'm reading in Quiet. So, yeah, she knows how negatively the Extroverts are coming off there. And she's taking offense. Rightly so. I'm right there with her, and stating as much as we discuss together.

She's not dumb! She knows how wrong it is to smoke and gamble and behave badly! She's a great problem solver! So many less-than-favorable things that the book points out about Extroverts, Sweetie is quick to disagree with. Quick to say how she's way better than that. How dare these studies and this book lump all Extroverts together into one, ugly group. It's not fair.

No it's not. And, of course, these are just studies. With majority and minority results. Of course, everyone is an individual and may or may not fit nicely into their presupposed boxes. I know this, and we're teaching Sweetie to understand this as well. But still.

That's just it, ya know? The three of us - we teach each other and learn from each other every day. As two Quiet parents - careful thinking, kind, compassionate, intelligent souls that we are - it's our duty to help our ENP to thrive as best she can in any given situation she finds herself. To take her time and think through problems, to care about others and herself, to study hard and do well in school. And she, as an Extrovert - and an only child, at that - has us all to herself to teach us a thing or two as well. How to be a bit more uninhibited, a bit less timid about standing up for what we know to be right, how to laugh at ourselves, and less afraid of speaking up and showing who we are to the big, talkative world.

Quiets and E's. No matter who you are and where you fall on this particular personality trait scale, we all can get along. We all can learn a lot from each other. We all benefit society in lots of great ways.  We all have power. We all are powerful. We are.

It's just in the way you show it.