Using Jung to Clarify the Power of Introversion and Extroversion in Coaching

Learn how to move out of the shallows of those old introvert & extrovert labels.

What’s best used as a combo with other aspects of personality?  Introversion and Extroversion.  

The famed psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, is one of the few that has added clarity to the oversimplification or archaic use of introversion & extroversion in modern times.   Assessments of the past, like the Myers Briggs Type IndicatorTM have helped many people better understand Jung’s complex explanations about personality so that they are more accessible and useful in the world.


They have to exist or not in their own right. I mean, with kids, you don’t say, ‘Which is your favourite,’ or ‘Which did you enjoy bringing up the best?’~ Albert Finney


Introvert Extrovert from Renato Ganoza, Flickr
Introvert Extrovert from Renato Ganoza, Flic

Carl Jung writings deepen our understanding of these two “attitudes” helped by tools like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator.  The MBTI® is an assessment to increase access to & understanding of  Jung’s work, such as via Five Levels of Understanding:

Katharine Myers created the Five Levels of Understanding to share her experience of type and personality preference as a beckoning path of ever-deepening knowledge of human behavior and of living life well with others. 

Simple Solar System by Mads Boedker, Flickr
Simple Solar System by Mads Boedker, Flickr

I’ve used the analogy that using extrovert, introvert to describe a person is like using our known solar system to explain the universe. It’s a way to begin, but there’s a lot more out there. 

Photo: By Mads Boedker, Flickr CC

Using a Jungian approach, those using their introversion or extroversion attitudes gain energy from using it as either their first or second mental function, or as a first or secondary mental preference.

Preview of the Extroversion Introversion Difference handout, 2013
Preview of the Extroversion Introversion Difference handout, 2013

Understanding Extroversion and Introversion (downloadable handout from Deb)

Just as we may have a dominant hand, being left-handed or right-handed, we ALL have a balancing extrovert or introvert side tied to one of our top two mental functions, based on Jungian theory.

Using the Jungian approach, one of those two mental functions is dominant and one is auxilary, a helper mental function of either perception or judgment.  An example is below of an INFP and ENFP.

In this illustration, the dominant introverted Feeling (the letter “I”) of the INFP is in shadow on the left.   What people tend to notice first for INFP’s is their extroverted side, which is not their “preferred hand,” rather it is their secondary preferred function of extroverted iNtuition.

Note what changes and what is dominant for the ENFP, extroverted iNtuition, and how introversion (the letter “I”) is present, but is shown as smaller.  For the ENFP personality preference, it is secondary preference, the auxiliary, like your opposite, preferred hand.

Photo credit:  Order of Preference ENFP
Photo credit: Order of Preference ENFP

There’s more here on the nuances of introversion & extroversion via the Personality Pathways website that describes the order of preference using the MBTI.  The MBTI is one of the tools I can offer in coaching to understand the order of preferences, such as which of your mental functions do you prefer as your dominant, auxilary, tertiary and which is your inferior function and gateway to your shadow functions.

A recent post by blogger and self-identified introvert Maria Ogneva lends itself to a discussion of how those with a dominant introverted preference might choose when, how and what contribute to a group.  You may choose to observe, listen in on, or join in full dialog.


Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are a socially awkward shut-in; it just means that you get your energy from different sources than extroverts. Being at large networking events where I am “always on” exhausts me.

Being in small purpose-filled groups, talking about things I’m passionate about with like-minded people energizes me.

Being able to spend some time with myself and my own thoughts re-energizes me daily – it’s my ying to the yang of spending my days with extroverts.

Finally, this film school project explains the MBTI and Jung framework with clarity:
“To know oneself is half the battle.” ~ Brendan Doyle
Note:  This post has several excerpts from a 2012 post from the REVELN Coaching mini-blog that has since been integrated into this main website, REVELN Consulting.

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Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile:

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