The Other Side of Introverts

Nine Ways to be an Introvert by E Wagele

I saw something today on my web site’s INFP page that sent a chill up my spine:

The inferior function
Introverted feelers’ least developed and most unconscious function is extraverted thinking, which may be triggered by being criticized or self-criticism. It often takes the form of nit-picking or being hostile, critical, or sarcastic.”

 This is a quote from my book, The Happy Introvert, A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self  from the chapter Introverts, the Workplace, and Myers-Briggs.

INFP stands for four of the eight Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality preferences: introversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving. (The others are extraversion, sensation, thinking, and judging.) I am an INFP, though the typical Enneagram 5-Observer (me) is an INTP. In other words, I’m an introverted feeler with intuition. I’m comfortable with my inner life but when I should communicate I don’t always do the right thing. This is where my inferior function, extraverted thinking, comes in.

I was having some problems concerning a friend and felt self-critical for continuing the relationship. Eventually I started making verbal slips. The things that came out of my mouth (my extraverted feeling) were shameful; things I never would have said consciously. I nit-picked, I was hostile, I was critical. Since I didn’t quit the relationship consciously, my unconscious stepped in and did it for “me.” As Jung said, the conscious and unconscious act to balance one another.

I saw why I should have paid more attention to the following advice I gave INFPs and ISFPs in The Happy Introvert:

“If you are an introverted feeler, you value ideals, art, and life, and are motivated to improve the human condition. When something upsets you…, instead of retreating, make a point of staying and working things out. Make sure your environment is safe for expressing what you think and feel, or you might notice you are holding back your opinions.” When we hold things back, they sneak out when we don’t want them to. Oops!


Feeling types make judgments according to such values as compassion, beauty, empathic connections, and harmony. Introverted feeling types (INFPs and ISFPs) value personal experience and subjective meanings so highly, they look down upon collective opinions and the extraverts who hold them. They become inflexible when their deepest beliefs are threatened.

Introverted feelers with sensing, ISFP’s, are compassionate, use and take pleasure in their five senses, and tend to be good listeners. If you are an idealist and a soul-searcher, you may be an introverted feeler with intuition, an INFP.

Typical occupations for INFPs, include psychologists, artists, writers, philosophers, teachers, editors, inventors, and musicians. Your intuition is extraverted. If you are an introverted feeler with intuition you are creative, recognize potential in others, and understand abstract, intangible aspects of life. Avoid jobs that place you in highly competitive situations. Honor your need for quiet, consciously use your thinking ability to determine whether you have overlooked any important facts or details, and look for opportunities to engage your imagination.

The rich inner life is definitely worth all we “introverted feelers with intuition” go through. When I see a flower, a blade of grass, a Coke can, or anything else, I have a richer experience than someone whose inner life is neglected. That’s just one of many things that I love about being this type.Nigel Thompson, an INFP.

NOW The Career Within You is in Korean and Japanese. See the Japanese cover:

For Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types see my Psychology Today blog and my web site.


Famous HAPPY INTROVERT: Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite by Elizabeth Wagele

It’s been 7 ½ years since the movie Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004 and six years since I devoted the appendix of THE HAPPY INTROVERT to the Enneagram types of the movie’s characters. Now the writer and director of the movie, with help, have turned it into a Sunday night animated TV series. The original actors take the parts of the characters’ voices. Napoleon and his brother Kip still live in Idaho—with their grandmother. I haven’t seen the TV show, but from what I’ve read about it, it doesn’t capture the subtle qualities the movie does. It goes for definite jokes instead of the slow, nerdy humor more typical of introverts. The movie’s charm depends on being understated. It doesn’t sound like this series replicates that.

When I first watched the movie on DVD, I almost turned it off after twenty minutes because I was bored. But I came back and watched it again. And again. I started to love Napoleon and his veiled sweetness. He advises his friend in a quiet way, “Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.” I believe he’s a Peace Seeker type in the Enneagram.

I love Napoleon because he isn’t swayed by what his high school crowd values. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. His life isn’t about being popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s strong, loyal, virtuous, and doesn’t beat himself up about being grumpy. In fact, for a Peace Seeker to allow himself to be grumpy is an achievement. Most Peace Seekers try to be pleasant most of the time, even when they don’t feel that way.

Napoleon plays a video over and over for many weeks in order to learn how to dance–only because he wants to. He has no reason to tell anyone about it. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way. It comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to find out more about introversion or the Enneagram personalities of Napoleon Dynamite, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

More famous types can be found on this blog, on my Psychology Today blog, and on my web site.

Are Introverts Allergic to Phones?


Drawing by EWagele

They say phone calls are becoming rare.

I think they’re right. My phone rings less often than it used to.

That’s fine with me… I prefer to write e-mails.

Being an introvert, it takes me some time to compose myself before composing a verbal thought. On the telephone, there is no time. Responses have to be instantaneous. With e-mail, you have all the time in the world to ponder. And to edit the perfect comment or response.

So I love to write e-mails.

The control! The relaxation!

No talking back.

No need to think fast.

You can even take a vacation in the middle of it.

My husband’s an introvert, too. The only drawback to our courtship was our phone calls. He’d call me up and say, “Hi Liz.” Period. That was it. I’d be happy to hear from him, but I’d make sure I’d thought of what to say when he would call that night and say, “Hi, Liz.”

I’m not a big talker. For some reason, it’s hard for me to initiate conversations. My head goes blank. If I’m feeling very relaxed I can jabber away, but initiate a conversation with a stranger? Forget it. Start talking to a stranger at a cocktail party? No way. I don’t want to intrude, plus I couldn’t think of a thing to say even if I were obnoxious enough to bother all those people who are always having those intimate conversations and don’t want anyone to annoy them. At least so I think.

Back to phones.

We used to have a party line, where two or more households share the same phone connection. We knew that the people on our line lived about three doors down the street. They could listen to our conversations and we to theirs. Can you imagine that? That was a long time ago. A long time before the Internet and cell phones. It was awful, especially when you had to wait for them to finish the most boring conversation the world has ever known to make your own important call.

Until I was ten, my phone number was 31832. That’s it. Easy. Then it was Landscape 6-0252. Other kids had prefixes like Thornwall. Then they did away with the words and substituted more numbers, so my phone number became 526-0252 and everybody in my neighborhood’s number started with 526. Now you see all kinds of prefixes on the same block and lots of people just use cell phones. What’s coming next? When I was a kid I wished we could communicate by smoke signals. It didn’t occur to me how public they’d be or that I’d care.

My aunt used to phone my mother too often and talk too long. Once my mother became exasperated and told her, after hearing every detail of my aunt’s dinner preparations that day, “I smell your ham burning.” My aunt said, “Oh really?” and quickly slammed down the phone to attend to the emergency.

Sometimes old ways are the best ways.

“Help! There’s an Observer in my House!” Guest blog by Theresa Hoang.

No, not that type of observer/stalker. If that were the case, I would instead be whipping out my phone to call the police instead of writing a blog about it. I’m talking about the Number 5…the Observer on the enneagram. People who are “Observers” are very analytical and wise. They (surprise, surprise!) observe. They want to understand the world around them and how it works.

This explanation of the Observer would be the perfect description of my 12 year old brother. As the eldest of four kids, I have tutored all three of my little siblings. And I must say, he is the most difficult one to tutor.

For example, he is very slow at answering questions. It would take him forever to answer a simple yes-or-no question. Even his teachers at school have talked to my parents about him being very silent and non-responsive—that he needed to pay attention in class. My brother recently asked me a question about sex-linked traits for his biology class, and I went on a 20 minute speech talking about genes and heredity. When I was done, proud that I remembered something from my AP Biology class, I asked, “So does that answer your question?” And all he did was stare at me. All I did was stare at him back. And got angry. I asked, “Were you even listening to me?! You can’t even tell me if you understood me or not?” And my brother stood quiet. Then finally, after a full ten minutes, he uttered, “I still don’t get it.” It would drive me nuts when this happened. I mean, does it really take that long to realize you don’t understand it?

My parents even took these signals as signs that he was getting behind in school, and they have hired countless tutors to help him. But still, his old habits stayed the same.

However, after starting my externship with Elizabeth Wagele and learning more about the Enneagram, I discovered so many things. After reading her The Enneagram of Parenting, I concluded that my brother was definitely an Observer. He has a “quiet personality,” “likes to be alone,” and “seems uninterested in social norms,” just to name a few (The Enneagram of Parenting). I never knew that my brother could not help but be the way he was. He wasn’t slow or anything. His mind just works differently.

I decided to put what I learned to use. Late last night, my brother called me to help him with math. I was sure to be patient. (Two times during the conversation, I told him to call me back so he could think about it until it made sense to him or until he realized he did not understand it. It worked.) Lo and behold, after about half an hour, he figured out the problem! Because of finding out what his “type” was, I learned that he wasn’t blatantly ignoring me or not understanding the concept. He just needed to sort things out in his mind before saying anything. Reading this book made me realize how important it is to understand how other people work. For me, this just doesn’t pertain to how I should be very patient towards my brother when helping him, but also to how I should be very flexible in how I treat other people, because their personality types might be very different from mine. Now, I just need to tell my parents (and make them tell my brother’s teachers) about my newfound discovery…the enneagram!

Theresa Hoang is a University of California, Berkeley, student majoring in music and biology. She is an extern for Elizabeth in January 2011.

Another book relevant to this blog is “The Happy Introvert” by Elizabeth Wagele. Included is a chapter on introverts as children, which covers most 5-Observers.