There are a lot of resources available about extroverts. They all seem to categorize us the same…talkative. But there is more to extroversion than talking.
Last week, I gave tips on how extroverts can best communicate with introverts. This week we flip the script. How do you interact with extroverts when you are an introvert?
Again let’s begin by clarifying definitions.
Extroversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and excitability. People who are high in extroversion tend to seek out social stimulation and opportunities to engage with others. (1)
It is easy to think extroverts are just social butterflies but the technical definition of Carl Jung’s personality theory has to do with energy source.
Think of it this way, when the gas tank is empty, extroverts looks to extra social interactions to fill it up.
Like introversion, extroversion is scaled. I have extroverted friends who make me tired just looking at them.
So if you are an introvert how do you interact with an extrovert?
The short answer is with respect. Because extroversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness and excitability it is easy to think that extroverts are loud, pushy, inconsiderate, attention seeking, selfish, shallow, or flighty. And while those can describe some extroverts, the same could be said for introverts too. Respectful interactions suspends preconceived idea and stereotypes.
4 Things to Consider When Interacting with Extroverts
1. Extroverts need to talk.
It isn’t a preference; It is a need. Extroverts process externally. They actually think while talking. When the words are coming out of our mouths, our brains are making connections to ideas, “ah ha” moments, and people. Extroverts need to be able to let the words come out in order to get to the point. My introverted husband sorts through his ideas in his head. I need to sort through my ideas verbally. Talking all the time, however, is a problem and extroverts need to learn to reign it in. I will be the first to admit it. But, talking can be an asset as this article explains to introverted managers of extroverted workers.
2. Extroverts need face time.
With the increased use of online communication and social media, it is easy to hide behind a computer. Extroverts need face time. They need to see their friends in person. They need to speak to their boss in person. They need to look into a face to make and confirm connections. Extroverts tend to be really good at reading body language and body language says as much to them as words.
3. Extroverts need a safe place to unload.
When processing externally, extroverts might actually end up saying some nonsensical, weird, or unusual things in the process. It doesn’t mean they believe it, but it is just part of the process. A thought then leads to another thought, that eventually lead to a conclusion. Because of this, extroverts need a safe place to unload. They need to know that while they are trying to figure things out, the listener is not judging them. They also need to know that the listener is fully listening.
My husband thought that since I needed to talk aloud, it didn’t matter what he did while I was doing it. Boy, was he wrong. Sitting in front of the TV periodically checking the score with crossed arms did NOT help. I couldn’t unload because he wasn’t paying attention. Inattentiveness drains an extrovert’s energy. It matters what the listener is doing. Your interaction fuels the extrovert, so don’t check out.
4. Extroverts need catalysts.
It is easy to think extroverts are great suppliers of energy because they are energetic. The truth is when an extrovert needs a refill they are at the mercy of others to give it to them. This means that introverts need to occasionally initiate interactions with extroverts. In the prior post, I mentioned that introverts can be very outgoing and social as long as they have had enough time to rest up for it. So, rest up and initiate something.
I asked my husband once, “Why do I always plan our date nights?” His response, “It is because you have better ideas.” It is not that extroverts have better ideas, it is just that ideas come easier. It doesn’t take a long period of time for an idea to come. The idea may not be good idea, but it is quick coming. It is easy to rely on extroverts at home or at work to be the initiators, but they need a break from that too. They can’t be the ones to come up with all the ideas, plans, or activities. When my husband came to me later and said, “I was thinking we could get a babysitter and go to the jazz club this weekend.”, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Not because we were going on a date, but because I didn’t plan it. His initiative was a catalyst for my energy that had been waning. That one thing gave me the energy that I needed and we had a good time.
The extroversion/introversion scale is only one way to describe personality. There are so many other factors that make a person unique. The point with this post and the one about introversion is to build understanding through knowledge. Our differences cease to be divisive when we begin learning about and appreciating ourselves and each other.
Here are a few resources that further explain the uniqueness of extroversion:
- How to Manage An Extrovert…When You Are An Introvert by Business Week
- Five Tips For A Great Introvert-Extrovert Relationship by E-Harmony
- 22 Tips To Better Care For Introverts and Extroverts
- What is Extroversion?
- 5 Tips or parenting an extroverted child