It’s nice that people are appreciating you so much more these days and showing how to build on your quiet strengths. But we extroverts are also often misunderstood, and we need champions, too – people who will stand up for us and challenge common perceptions like these:
1. Ready, Fire, Aim
It’s not necessary to take everything we say literally. We think out loud, and we need to put the idea out there in order to look at it. Just because we say something doesn’t mean you should go do it. We get a bad rap for not thinking things through before we take action. OK. Maybe we do jump to action a little too quickly sometimes. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow. If you think we don’t know where we’re going, it would help if you pointed that out. And you must admit that our bias for action keeps things from getting boring.
2. Monopolizing the Conversation
You might think we’re monopolizing the conversation and you can’t get a word in edgewise. But if you look closely, you’ll notice it’s not really a conversation. There’s a lot of talking and not much listening. Just because we’re good talkers, doesn’t mean we have thought through what we’re saying. We need help, not judgment – we need someone to call a “time out” and slow us down so we can build on each other’s ideas and not just toss them around.
3. Bulls in a China Shop
We enjoy people and like to have a good time. We’re really tired of being thought of as “bulls in a china shop.” We’re not insensitive. Please stop getting mad at us when we trample on your feelings. We don’t do it on purpose. We don’t know how you’re feeling because you don’t tell us. (p.s. I’m sorry I asked your friend when her baby was due. It really did look like she was pregnant.)
4. Energizer Bunnies
It’s not that we have more energy than you or that we “just keep going,” but we recharge by engaging with people, and we’re sorry if that wears you out. Also, we’d appreciate your understanding that we really need music, activity and external stimulation to help us think and get our work done. We’re sorry if all the activity and noise bothers you, but it’s really hard to tiptoe around so much.
5. Talk is Not All Write
I’m sorry I haven’t responded to the ten questions in your last email. But my in-box is flooded by people who would rather write than talk. I don’t have time to read it all, let alone write the in-depth response you are looking for. All this email is killing me. Could we just have a quick phone call instead?
6. Shallow Party Animals
When we’re worn out, we seek out others. We need to connect with people to renew our energy. If you’re too tired to join us, that’s not our fault. You’re always welcome to join anytime. Please stop saying we’re excluding you when the truth is you want to be alone when you’re worn out. We’re not shallow. We’re recharging.
So dear introverts, I hope you understand it’s not our intention to be rude, insensitive or monopolizing. We’re simply misunderstood. Please cut us some slack and appreciate our strengths.
A Closet Extrovert
Great post! As an introvert, I think sometimes the extroverts get all the “glory,” so I do tend to be more “supportive” of introverts. But really, the thing is, need to look beyond labels. Diversity is good, and we need all types in life, in work, in our families, etc. And we are all different in different situations. Sometimes we introverts have to force ourselves to behave like extroverts in certain situations. And vice versa, I’m sure. I think the key is for all of us to understand and accept those that are different from us.
Clearly, I am not the person you want for your “champion.” But, I do understand you. And I hope you understand me. 🙂
So glad you raised the issue of diversity, Cheryl. We need both – introverts to ensure we think through what we’re doing and extroverts to make sure we move. Instead of trying to be like each other, we simply need to appreciate and be open to each other’s gifts. I also agree about labels. They are helpful for making distinctions, but it’s really not as simple as two types of people. There are many gradations along the path. For example, I am a quiet extrovert and often look like an introvert… or perhaps I’m an outgoing introvert.
I really like your point to introverts about calling extroverts out rather than judging. I can tell you that introverts often do judge and do the (perhaps internal) eye roll when extroverts blab on and on or leap into action without thinking things through. Understanding and bringing out the best in each other are goals we should all be striving for. Thanks for the most insightful post.
Love the image of an internal eye roll! Appreciate your point that the goal is to lend our strengths and support each other and that judging prevents us from doing that.
Wonderful! I’m one of those “writers” who fill everyone’s e-mail box with too much. Just recently I’ve connected with another one and we simply fill each other’s boxes rather than bothering the world!
Happy to read your letters because fortunately you do not ask for a response 🙂
I have mixed feelings about this one. I wasn’t aware that extroverts needed a champion since they seem to dominate our culture, but I guess introverts are making them feel bad by getting some attention.
I agree that there are a lot of stereotypes that float around. As a mostly introverted person, I have been trying to learn how to become more extroverted – though it wears me out. I’ve tried calling you out, but often just get shouted down or chastised, or been called stupid. Thanks. I am trying the best I can to live in your world. It’s hard to be sociable and happy when I am tired and worn out from trying all day. So sometimes I just have to retreat to my books and solitary activities to recharge.
Personally, I’ve had enough of this bucketing people into categories and then treating people as if those categories were the only thing that defined them. It should be enough to deal with everyone as the individual they are. I’ve met very few people who are pure introverts or pure extroverts, or pure anything else. I know its hard work to deal with individuals and not groups, but it’s more rewarding.
There are times when I’m happy to follow and support and times when I want to be heard and listened to, not quickly dismissed. After all, after decades of working hard to be extroverted, I have picked up a few tips from extroverts. Sometimes action is needed and sometimes, thought is required. Mix it up!
It was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I hope insight into the extrovert experience is helpful. When extroverts become more self-aware of how they trip themselves up, all of us benefit. It is a better world when introverts are in situation where their style is appreciated and valued. Lack of awareness can be especially hard for introverted children whose parents are extroverted. Often the parents push them to be more outgoing, thinking it will make them happier, not understanding that there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s simply their basic temperament. ps. Hope you come back and read the newer comments. You’ll find many resonate with your own. Thanks for weighing in, Martin.
Thanks for your post. Thoughtful as usual, Jesse Stoner! I do agree that we all need to accept each other and that there is enough judging to go around. But I don’t believe extroverts need a champion. The introverts have been under their spell for a long, long time. Because extroverts are often talking and moving so fast they have dominated the landscape and it has been the introverts who have had to repress their strengths. The result is that they are often not heard and all of us lose out; individuals, teams and organizations. Of course extroverts have incredible qualities that you have highlighted in your post and their intentions are misunderstood.
We can make beautiful music together. In my latest research I have identified 5 key steps that opposites (I’s and E’s) can take to avoid going off the rails and bring out the best in their partnerships. One of them? Accept The Alien…”You can’t change your opposite, but you can understand them. Once you are able to accept this fact, you are in for much less stress.”
Perhaps a different kind of champion? – to help them gain more insight into how to maximize their strengths without unintentionally running over others. And so introverts can better understand what’s going on for extroverts – to help them stop the internal eye rolling Joanie referred to and more easily make a meaningful connection. I am really looking forward to the August 17 release of your new exciting book: The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together.
Thank you Jesse! Pre-orders available now. It emerged from the readers of my other books who said they wanted to figure out how to work this delicate balance.
Love this!! Two points especially come into my mind from it. One, it’s become an unexamined reflex of many to create unnecessary, zero-sum calculations, e.g., if we appreciate introverts, we must implicitly or explicitly devalue extroverts. That we praise and elevate one need not mean that we disparage or devalue the other. We need both if we’re focused on creating value.
On your email point, does it necessarily follows that introverts would rather turn to email, extroverts to phone? If they’re solely focused on their own preferences, without regard to serving others, they might have gravitate toward one medium or another (though even there, am not sure that we can link introversion/extroversion too tightly to such preferences, based on my observation and experience). Ideally, if we’re focused on serving others, such choices should be made with an eye toward the communication, toward our intended audience.
Thanks for a terrific post!
Good point about how we tend to view things from an either/or perspective, rather than both/and, and therefore swing from pole to pole in what we value. The truth is if everyone were extroverts (or introverts) we’d be in big trouble. Diversity is a law of nature and the world does not thrive without it. Also appreciate your comment about considering others’ preferences when communicating. Much thanks for sharing your wisdom here, Jim!
Hi Jesse, my daughter describes me as “an introverted extrovert” or was it an “extroverted introvert”??? heh! I guess that means I cause your pain…..and can feel your pain.
Very appreciative of your work –
Haha! Another closet extrovert! Great to hear from you, Carl.
I am one! Yep, extrovert. Surprised that I make my living by talking? At the same time, there are no absolutes here. I have been in situations where talking is the last thing I want to do. I also need down time, alone time to recharge– something that surprises people who expect me to be always “up” or “on”. Acting on haste– I am guilty of that and it’s a frontier of growth for me to move into.
Here is one other point: leaders can be either. Obama is an introvert, given more to gathering information, listening and then speaking. Reagan was an extrovert, a true”hail fellow well met”. The trick is to know when to use your preferred style.i
Thanks, Jesse.Now it’s tome for us to TALK!
A good reminder that we need to be careful not to put people in boxes. It would be a big mistake to assume all extroverts are the same.
The point I really take from this post is that we have to understand that everyone is somewhere on the introvert / extrovert scale. There is no reason we should ‘need’ to interact with any particular scale value – too complicated. Simply just “seek first to understand and then to be understood” as the late Stephen Covey advocated. And variety is a great (not simply good) thing! Imagine if we were all the same…
And of course introvert / extrovert is not the only scale. There’s a large list of personal characteristics / preferences. Be alert to others’ combinations; learning them is the first and most important step to successful interactions!!!
Indeed. Not only are we at different places on the scale, we are at different places in different situations and at different ages. Although I do believe it’s helpful to understand the basic differences in preferences. Otherwise we tend to assume that people see and experience the world the same way we do. Understanding the potential for differences opens the door to conversation – and it is in the conversation that true connection and appreciation arise.
Jesse. Thanks for your thought provoking write up. Extroverts are seen as proud people.They like bragging. They are seeing as they know it all. We cannot deny this. Even among the extroverts, they feel so about each other. I think we need both however – diversity. Introverts can help extroverts to “cool temper” while extroverts help introverts to come out of their shells. I remember that when I became a lecturer for our Tuesday Bible lecture, I was able to bring some introverts out of their comfort zone. Things have not been the same since then. They contribute to our discussion, bringing out their experiences. Even so-called extroverts learn a lot from them to the extent that when the introverts are making contributions, extroverts pay attention and they learn from the introverts. Extroverts know now that they are not as knowledge as the introverts in some areas of the Bible. They longer claim to be Mr. Know-all again. They are very careful in criticizing or judging others based on their belief of the Bible contents.
Thanks for bringing up this issue. I will advise that extroverts need to exercise some caution and decorum. If not, they stand to be judged and badly too.
Lots of good points, Bayo. The more self-aware we become, the more aware we become of the impact of our actions on others. And the more aware we become of the value of what others who are different can offer.
Interesting reading for a self-identified introvert to read – thank you!
Just one thought about your item no.5 – if I’m at work I WILL email you (the extrovert) regarding those 10 questions and expect a written answer, because I want a record I can point to in a year’s time. If you refuse to engage with me by email and only want to talk on the phone, I’m going to assume you don’t want to go on record and are going to try and wriggle out of whatever we were discussing. If I want a gossip session rather than details, that is fine by phone (depending on the person at the other end, of course).
But yeah, it’s always interesting working with a mix of different personality types in a small room and learning how to keep everyone happy and not secretly homicidal.
Good point about writing vs. talking, Carmen. There are times you need a written record which has nothing to do with temperament. Thanks for adding to the conversation.
Those who know me would say I’m far from a “closet” extravert! I think there are likely several reasons introverts have found me challenging at times. It probably includes the six you list above plus a few more. For me one thing that I know has always helped is having explicit conversations about work styles early in a relationship. And then to put in place some kind of signal or process of some type that helps ensure we and our client both get the best we have to offer.
Yes, that’s the best way to maximize the benefit of working with those whose style is different from yours. Of course, that supposes that the people have self-awareness of what their style is and an understanding that other’s styles can be different and valued. Much thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jake!