12 Mar 2006 apenwarr   » (Master)

Split Brain Compromises

I've written several posts now about non-compromise solutions to problems. A non-compromise solution is definitely the best one. But suppose you can't find a non-compromise solution, or you have found one, but it's too hard or will take too long to implement?

Here's one example that's very hard to solve in a fully non-compromise way.


People who are introverted find social interaction tiring. People who are extroverted find social interaction energizing. And for sitting by yourself, the situation is exactly reversed. That's the simplest, most informative way of explaining the two personality types that I've ever heard. It avoids the faulty assumption that, say, introverts can't deal well with people. Not true. They can, they just quickly get tired of it. Conversely, some people are extroverted and annoying.

Here's the problem: it seems that introversion/extroversion is hardwired into your personality, and introverts are better at some things while extroverts are better at other things, and virtually nobody is energized both by being alone and by socializing.

Some problems require sitting and thinking. Some problems require socializing. If you're trying to improve yourself to be the very best at solving any particular kind of problem, you will have to choose at some point: are you an introvert or an extrovert? From there, you can choose the things you will and will not be great at.

But the hardest problems require a little bit of each. A compromise solution like this might entirely prevent you from being able to solve such problems.

What can you do about it? I see two possibilities: first, if you're an introvert, you can find one or more extroverts to work with. The compromise here: now you have to trust people before they've earned it, because you don't have the skills yourself. I've recently become intimately familiar with the results of this compromise.

Second, you can develop a split personality and switch between the two. Hey, humans are flexible. This compromise can have fairly obvious sanity-related consequences, but might be plausible in the short term to prepare for a switch (safely, this time) to solution 1.

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