Jan 13, 2007

Getting to Know Introtims and Extratims

The process of getting to know an introtim is quite different from the process of getting to know an extratim. Introtims are designed to respond to efforts made by others, while extratims are designed to make efforts themselves. These orientations are usually most apparent during the process of making acquaintances and getting to know each other better. Sexual programs (i.e. male initiative) can add another dimension to these patterns that I will not discuss here.

Introtims live with the sensation that there are always people who want to talk to them, get to know them, or do something with them. Their life philosophy is very often built around how to respond to these people.

Extratims live with the sensation that it is their job in life to put forth an effort to establish contact and interaction with people.Their life philosophy is very often built around how best to do this.

By no means are we equating socionic extraversion to "talkativeness." Introtims can be very talkative and extratims very reserved (though extreme cases convey a sense of tension and dissatisfaction, whereas by comparison very talkative extratims and very reserved introtims seem more natural).

The difference is that introtims do not tend to talk about themselves, but rather share their experiences, sentiments, thoughts, etc. that apply to the situation or discussion at hand. This kind of talkativeness serves to support communication and refine the situation, and not to get to know people better.

Extratims, on the other hand, tend to talk about themselves even when it isn't required by the situation at hand. In doing so, they inadvertently broaden the context of discussion and open up new topics. Some extratims can be silent for a long time, but then suddenly say or do something that significantly extends the context of the situation.

In general, introverted behavior serves to refine situations and bring them closer to satisfying participants' internal needs, while extraverted behavior serves to expand situations and bring them closer to the demands of external reality.

Let's look at the three possible combinations below:

Two introtims
Introtims, as a rule, establish personal contact with each other and build relationships as a result of being in the same location and circumstances for an extended period of time. In this case, no one has to make an effort to get to know the other - it just happens naturally within the context of their shared activities and experiences.

Two introtims can live together for years and never really know what the other person is like because they haven't ever discussed their personal qualities (similarities and differences) in depth. Instead, they know very well the other person's behavior, thoughts, and sentiments in the context of their shared experiences. Exasperated by the deficit of information circulating between them, they may make strange demands on the other's behavior without ever realizing the objective nature of the problem (i.e. that they have objective differences or similarities). Most often, relationships between two introtims have an aura of eccentricity, as if people are living in their own little bizarre world.

Two extratims
Extratims, as a rule, establish personal contact with other people by making an effort and saying more than needs to be said or asking more than needs to be asked in the given situation. When they are interested in a person, they try to find out about them directly by asking questions or by talking about themselves and expecting that the other person will follow suit. This ensures that people begin talking about their own general characteristics, which is necessary in order to establish a personal relationship.

Most often extratims react to other extratims' attempts to open them up and get to know them better with indifference or hostility concealed under a layer of tactfulness - especially if they sense the other person is treating them like an introvert. Hence, to have a stable relationship two extratims need to make a habit of talking about external things and avoid trying to "build a relationship" with the other by getting too personal. A possible exception is relations of activation, where partners are often able to help resolve each other's problems through direct intervention (without asking permission). Most often, relationships between two extratims lack "glue" and seem to have little that keeps them together.

An introtim and an extratim
Usually it is the extratim that makes the initial effort to establish a connection with the other person. The extratim has usually noticed certain qualities in the other person before the introtim is even aware. Based on his or her observations, the extratim decides to make an effort to open the other person up (each type in his own way). At this point the introtim knows very little about the extratim, but - more often than not - decides to humor the other person and respond to his efforts. At the very least, the introtim acknowledges the extratim's efforts to initiate communication (which is more than many extratims will do).

Video sample:
Johnny Depp and Rosie O'Donnell
If a stable relationship forms, the extratim and introtim complement each other by both expanding and refining situations, topics of discussion, and spheres of shared activity. Their interaction focuses on serving both internal and external needs. The introtim is satisfied that someone is around to periodically stir up the waters and generate convenient opportunities for change, and the extratim is content that someone is around to manage the inner life of the relationship and provide a sense of internal stability.

On a cultural level
In extraverted cultures like the United States, the prevailing habit is to talk about yourself, asking others about themselves, and go beyond (and ignore) the context of the situation when establishing a connection with people. In introverted cultures like Russia or Ukraine, people have a habit of establishing contact by talking about their responses to the shared situation they are in, without making others uncomfortable by expanding the situation or directing attention towards people's characteristics.


Donna said...

This has great face validity. I have noticed this between introverts and extroverts many times and know someone who experienced introvert to introvert communication in a marriage for a long time. There is a basic attraction between introverts and extroverts that can't be duplicated between people of the same persuasion. Great post!

Rick said...

>> There is a basic attraction between introverts and extroverts that can't be duplicated between people of the same persuasion.

Definitely! Most couples I see include one of each.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you address this issue because sometimes people in Socionics pretend that nothing of coherence can be said about I vs. E behaviors outside the context of a specific function or type.

Nevertheless, I must admit that my reading of this doesn't lend toward certainty or clarity in my own case. I consider myself an introvert; however, in many group situations, I initiate the conversations and try to keep them going. I do this because the other people are often introverts, and because there would be nobody to talk to and nothing learned if I didn't initiate.

On the other hand, I don't like to have to exert too much effort to initiate, and I often like it if someone else initiates the conversation. I've also observed that people who are introverts may be initiators...I've seen this behavior in ESIs, who sometimes show very extraverted behavior (in terms of initiating conversation), especially when interacting with children.

Anonymous said...

One other thought...I think your description of two introverts together is accurate for mismatched introverts, or introverts who just don't have a lot in common.

However, it seems to me that introverts sometimes develop very deep friendships with each other. I think this often occurs with identity partners as well as introverts with other similarities. It seems to me that the "lack of initiative" characteristic of introverts becomes less of an issue as people begin to know each other well.

Over time, two introverts may seem "extraverted" around each other, even as they remain "introverted" to everyone else.

Rick said...

>> However, it seems to me that introverts sometimes develop very deep friendships with each other.

Over time, two introverts may seem "extraverted" around each other, even as they remain "introverted" to everyone else.

I agree. I have seen cases like this. Within relationships the lines blur quite a bit and partners gradually get used to each other and show other sides of themselves. However, from the outside, the world of two introverts still seems cut off from the outside world.

Expat said...

This is the best description of the extrovert/introvert distinction I have ever seen; if I had any doubt that I am a socionics extrovert, I wouldn't after reading this. Thanks! Expat

iAnnAu said...

Very good descriptions.
I find that almost all my friends and lovers have been introtim just like me, and I've always noticed that it seems completely circumstantial what we know about each other. I had figured out that I don't tend to ask personal questions, but once a conversation has been opened, people seem to feel free to talk to me about anything, and in context of a pre-opened topic, I can probe for clarity. Some of my friends have criticized this as self-centered because *they* ask opener questions & I don't. I would now guess that they are either extrotim themselves, or otherwise expecting E behavior from me.
I do love to hear about my friends' lives, but I prefer that they bring things up organically, so it almost feels like manipulation to draw them out!

machintruc said...

The Rosie/Depp example suppose that all Introtims are soft-spoken.

Unfortunately, this isn't true for all Introtims, especially LSI's and ESI's.

John said...

I can relate to the extravert/extravert interaction very well... I experience it with an IEE and an SLE I know regularly....

The IEE can seem to treat me as an introvert which annoys me, but the SLE tends to give me my own space more and doesn't seem to expect me to be buddy/buddy with him so much. We keep interaction down to business and use a high level of polite tactfulness...