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Introvert? Extrovert? Who are you?

standard May 19, 2011 8 responses

It doesn’t come as a huge shock to anyone who knows me that I am an extrovert. I’m outgoing and gregarious, I thrive on being in public and on being a part of work groups.

Until this year I always assumed that extrovert was synonymous with outgoing and since that defined me to a T, I was fine with people assuming that’s what I was.

Introvert is usually synonymous with shy, and that’s just how I assumed my more withdrawn friends were. Shy, needing to be jostled out of it with extra heaps of boisterousness and fun. 

Then, last month, we did a Meyers Briggs seminar at my mother’s group and I gained a little more insight into the differences between the two.

I could not have been more wrong. 

Did you know that extroverts recharge their energy by being around other people? It’s like we feed off the energy being put out. Most extroverts come home from parties buzzing and high on the collective energy they bathed in all night. Introverts on the other hand, are drained by being in public and recharge by being alone.

Did you also know that extroverts process information by verbalizing what they are thinking. We think best in a group setting, bantering around ideas, bouncing thoughts off other people. Introverts on the other hand, internalize the information, process it, then come back with their response.

At parties, extroverts assume that introverts are bored, which is clearly not the case. In meetings or during group discussions extroverts often take center stage and introverts get annoyed that they hog the conversation, often to say inane, stupid, un-thoughtout things. Some extroverts might perceive that the fact that introverts don’t jump into the conversation means they are dumb, when really, they’re just deeper and process the information differently.

It’s fascinating to know all these things. To be aware of the differences.

But knowing them doesn’t make anything easier.

Here are a few secrets you might not know about extroverts.

Sure, we’re loud and boisterous, but we’re still shy and insecure. We just hide behind our bravado.

Sure, we’re outgoing and first to jump in, but we’re also really, really sensitive. Introverts protect themselves at every turn, only showing their cards when they are good and ready. Extroverts have no protective shell, we jump in, feet first, and take it all in the face.

So when you tell us that we’re too loud, even at times inconsiderate of others in the room, it kills us.

You see, we just want to be loved. We just want to please. We want nothing more than to win over every person in the room, because that’s when we’ll finally feel secure. To hear that our insecurity coping mechanism causes your insecurities puts us in a painful quandary. It makes us even more insecure, which in turn makes us louder.

There’s no winning with that. Ever.

And really, it begs the following questions:

If my volume and personality cause such anxiety in others, why are the majority of my friends Introverts? And, how do I parent my introvert child when clearly, my very personality causes her nothing but angst?

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8 responses

  • I don’t think introverts and extroverts need to be on opposite ‘sides’… long years of watching has shown me the strength and brilliance of extroverted people, different, but no less valid, than my own reticent personality.

    My daughter is hyper-extroverted, to the point where she worries me with her tendency to chat up anyone she meets. I worry, I try to teach, and I hope for the best. I would bet we’ll fight and say mean things to each other and drive each other crazy, but eventually find a balance and learn to appreciate each others’ strengths.

  • I love the Meyers brigg. I’m also an extrovert and have learned how to thing a bit before I speak, to cut the inane babble a bit. And I’ve learned to seek out the opinions of my introverted colleages. Great insights!

  • This intrigues me to no end…reading about introverts/extroverts. I am certainly an introvert. I’d much rather be alone with a book than in the middle of a party. This doesn’t mean that I’m socially awkward (people usually like me) but just that I need my space. Give your daughter her space. Ask her about her thoughts. Make sure she knows that just because people are talking and she’s not that there’s nothing wrong with that and all will be well 🙂

  • I’m a bit of an introvert myself. I prefer to work in silence and brainstorm new ideas on my own. Big, social gatherings aren’t my thing. I’d prefer to have a few close friends over to chat instead of going to a big party. My husband, on the other hand, is an extrovert, so our social lives are always a bit strained.

  • I am more of an extrovert for sure and enjoyed reading this post because it has opened my eyes to why I feel so energized after being with PEOPLE… Oh my, I love it! I am also shy and insecure at times which seems odd for someone so outgoing like me. Now I understand fully.

    I have three children, they are almost 9, almost 5 and almost 3. I think the almost 5 year old seems to be more of an introvert but not sure 100% yet. The other two lovely children are just like their Mama … oh my … yes they are and we get along really well most times but make for a high energy household for sure, especially when we get out around people!

    I think mothering a child who is not an extrovert like you may be easier than my situation because I am already seeing the clash with my daughter who will be 9 in October. It’s scary that clashing … now had we been more different in our ways, maybe we would not clash as badly.

  • Interesting read! We’re definitely taught the more “basic” definitions of the terms intro and extrovert

  • I’m very much an introvert, and my kids are both extroverts.

  • … extroverts who just “encouraged” me to hit publish before I was quite ready. 🙂

    Anyway, the kids are extroverts and I’m not, which has forced me to learn how to come out of my shell a little.

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