I’ve read a few articles recently about this introvert/extrovert, let’s say, debate. Most articles from the introvert’s perspective, or a “how to” when interacting with a self-proclaimed introvert. But loudly, as extroverts usually do, the responses and rebuttals are quickly making an appearance in social media.
So, why not weigh in, here are a few of my thoughts on this topic.
On the continuum of painfully shy, timid, unable to converse with people to the loud, obnoxious, talk to anyone, I would put myself quite firmly on the extrovert side. I realize this is both a personality trait, and a personal choice.
I do realize that introvert is not synonymous with quiet or shy. Nor should extrovert have the same definition as loud or obnoxious.
There is a certain disdain towards extroverts’ communication styles, with words such as shallow, pithy, empty, meaningless often thrown in as the key adjectives. This may or may not be true for some extroverts, but can I just point out one minor thing? How do you get to know someone without talking? I can hear it already, “Small talk isn’t communication.” False. (insert Dwight’s face) You learn something from every conversation, well you can learn something from every conversation. It just depends if you’re looking. Discussing the seemingly “small things of life” can show priorities, goals, values, as well as provide insight into the person’s way of thinking. Discussing my junior high girls’ favorite pop group or movie can give huge understanding to a group’s dynamics or priorities. You just have to be alert during these “meaningless” conversations to grasp the real meat of the discussion.
Extroverts are often labeled as conversational hogs or attention seekers. But, pause for a moment, someone has to start the conversation. Starting a conversation, even with seemingly “meaningless” topics, is important to relationships. It shows interest, it allows others to give opinions, thoughts on the topic. You don’t normally just jump into a deep conversation with a random person. But how does asking, “Where did you get that scarf” open a conversation? Leads to discussion of places to shop, deals found, favorite items, colors, etc. Bits and pieces of information used to keep the conversation going. Now can you have a friendship with someone and not know their favorite color? Of course. Taking the time to learn about people, to know information, to many, this may seem inconsequential. But I would argue this, spending the time to learn about someone else, that shows interest, and gives value to that person beyond just a face in the crowd.
I love my generation’s attempt to label everything, but always attempting to be different, unique. We’re programmed with this need to stand out from the crowd. But in this desperate need to be someone or make something of ourselves, we have lost what it means to be a friend. We network, we use people, we learn what we need to know to get by. Be different, learn someone’s favorite color, ask about the small things in life, not just the obvious or surface”y” topics. Obviously this goes both for introverts, as well as extroverts. But sometimes an extrovert feels rejected or hurt when an introvert does not express any interest in learning about them. Sharing is a natural thing for an extrovert, so introverts can be perceived as rude if this same interest is not returned.
Extroverts may not open up easily. Yes, I hear your thoughts “they’re actually WAY to open” but pause again. Self-proclaimed extrovert moment, we use shallow topics to build up friendships to slowly open up on other more meaningful topics.
Bear in mind, I am speaking in generalities. Don’t be offended, these are just observations and personal feelings.
Introverts claim the corner on self-reflective thought and soul searching. I disagree. As an extrovert, I am often reflecting on my behaviors, words, actions. But some difference may occur in that as I reflect on all that is me, I am also analyzing how this interacts with others. How does it make them feel? Am I coming across rude because I don’t start a conversation? Am I coming across shallow because I compliment their outfit? The pressure to entertain, amuse, keep the conversation going is something an extrovert knows well.
I’ll review a conversation multiple times in my head to see where it went wrong, or when the “I’m overwhelmed” face appeared. I would bet that many self-proclaimed extroverts also have these same experiences.
Of course we are human, and all very selfish in our interactions. Selfishness can be seen all across this spectrum. So learn about people different from you, have the pithy conversations, engage in the deep discussions, remember, this life is not all about you.
So these are a few of a self-proclaimed extrovert’s thoughts. Take them as you will. I’m interested to know your thoughts on this topic.