Everyone has the ability to think using logic and reason, but our personality shapes our thinking style and preferences.

According to Myers-Briggs personality theory, there are two different types of thinking: introverted and extroverted thinking. Here's a quick summary of their differences:

  • Introverted thinking is more internally focused, while extroverted thinking is more externally focused.
  • Introverted thinkers seek consistency and logic in their internal framework to assist with solving problems, while extroverted thinkers seek logic and consistency in outside rules to help them solve problems.
  • Introverted thinkers focus more on categorizing concepts and theories, while extroverted thinkers focus more on categorizing the outside world so they can effectively lead people.
  • Introverted thinkers keep systems moving, while extroverted thinkers keep people moving.

Each personality type also has a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th preference for introverted or extroverted thinking patterns, meaning that they have the ability to think in this way even though they may not often exhibit this behavior.

Are you an introverted thinker, or do you work with one? Check out the chart below to discover more.

Who Are the Introverted Thinkers?

ISTPs & INTPs ESTPs & ENTPs ISFJs & INFJs ESFJs & ENFJs
Most preferred thinking function 2nd preferred thinking function 3rd preferred thinking function 4th preferred thinking function

Although the INTP prefers to stay in the background while the ISTP tends to take the lead, both are excellent analysts who can understand and dissect very complex situations.

They’re the ones who are able to explain how something happened and why it happened the way it did.

For the ESTP and the ENTP, Introverted Thinking is their secondary strength and supports their more dominant functions of extroverted iNtuition and extroverted Sensing respectively.

These types of people can function as backup “scientists” in your team if you lack an ISTP or INTP.

ISFJs, INFJs, ESFJs and ENFJs do not tend to draw heavily on this ability since it is found in their third and fourth functional preferences.

Because these personalities rely more on their Extroverted Feeling functions, they possess the unique ability to balance their natural desire for harmony among their team members with a logical internal framework for decision-making.

You’ll want to get their input on decisions that require a balance of impartial logic with an understanding of how the decision will impact other people.

Introverted Thinking at Work

People who display introverted thinking seek consistency and logic of thought so they can form an internal framework for how things work and then figure out ways to improve, modify or perfect ideas.

At work, they often use this framework to analyze, problem-solve and improve on the product, process or concept. You can observe the effects of Introverted Thinking in people who are known for taking things apart or breaking concepts down to get an accurate understanding of how things work. They turn concepts over and over in their minds, examining all sides of the issue and looking for breakdowns or inconsistencies.

Once he or she uncovers an inconsistency, the Introverted Thinker can detect the most efficient way to solve the problem, repair the damage or improve the system. Considering the superpower that Introverted Thinking produces, it is not surprising to find these types of people among the great scientists/inventors, philosophers, economists, military leaders and out-of-the-box entrepreneurs in the world.

How Introverted Thinkers Communicate

Introverted Thinkers are often skilled communicators. They don’t need to bring a notecard to the meeting at work because they’ve already memorized everything they need. Their organized thinking process allows them to:

  • Find just the right words to clearly express themselves
  • Make fine distinctions about objects/ideas
  • Organize these distinctions into a logical framework of subcategories and principles

In other words, these are the types of people who can store an outline for a speech in their head -- and then execute that speech to perfection!

Who Are the Extroverted Thinkers?

ENTJs & ESTJs INTJs & ISTJs ESFPs & ENFPs INFPs & ISFPs
Most preferred thinking function 2nd preferred thinking function 3rd preferred thinking function 4th preferred thinking function

ENTJs and ESTJs are the most dominant types in Extroverted Thinking.

They’re the ones who are able to explain how something happened and why it happened the way it did.

They are often leaders in the workplace who are great at organizing the people around them to accomplish a task or follow a plan, gathering appropriate resources to achieve their goal.

INTJs and ISTJs use Extroverted Thinking tendencies to support their dominant preference of Introverted iNtuition and extroverted Sensing respectively.

ENFPs, ESFPs, INFPs and ISFPs can identify with their fellow Extroverted Thinkers, but they do not tend draw heavily on this ability since it is found in their third and fourth functional preferences.

These personality types rely on their iNtroverted Feeling functions to balance their desire for harmony in their actions, thoughts and values with the logic and consistency of the outer world.

Extroverted Thinking at Work

People who display Extroverted Thinking seek logic and consistency in the outside word; they focus on external laws and rules. But don’t be misled: This external orientation is not always the same thing as being a rule follower! In fact, many of the Extroverted Thinkers are likely to question or skirt around rules, especially if the existing rules are not logical or pragmatic.

At work, Extroverted Thinkers like to categorize their world and label things, people and processes. These types of people tend to be highly skilled at organizing and leading people to work efficiently and effectively. The Extroverted Thinker is very logical–whether challenging someone’s ideas, providing reasonable explanations, training others’ thought processes or following their logical reasoning. Because they are able to notice missing information or inconsistencies, they make great leaders!

Bottom line: Because Extroverted Thinkers are able to compartmentalize various aspects of life, they can focus and do what needs to be done regardless of what else is going on in or around them. Therefore, it is probably no surprise that this group tends to be found among the leaders and managers of all types of organizations. They are the ones that keep us all in line and moving forward productively to accomplish the mission.

How Extroverted Thinkers Communicate

Extroverted Thinkers are natural organizers; they schedule, quantify, and develop plan A, B, C, and maybe a plan Z. They’re the ones in the business meeting communicating through charts, tables, graphs, flow charts, outlines, gantt charts, and whatever else they can find to visualize and quantify their ideas!

How Does Your Workplace Use the Gifts of Introverted and Extroverted Thinkers?

We’ve already briefly mentioned how Introverted Thinkers and Extroverted Thinkers might function in the workplace. Perhaps this post has already brought a specific coworker or supervisor to mind.

If you or others in your workplace would benefit from going a little deeper and understanding the true strengths of those you work with each day, why not try our assessment for free?

You’ll receive an analysis of not only your Myers-Briggs type, but also your motivators and behaviors that could shed light on patterns that might be holding you back in the workplace -- and roles in which you could truly thrive.