Let’s face it, not all people are the same. We each have unique attributes that make up our personalities. These attributes factor into our hopes, dreams, and visions of the future. They affect our jobs, friends, and schools. They dictate how we relax, concentrate, and converse. For some time I have enjoyed researching personality types. One aspect that intrigued me is the difference between introverted and extroverted personalities.
Extroversion versus introversion is one of the opposing pairs of personality types that make up the personality system proposed by psychologist Carl Jung in his 1921 book “Psychological Types.” This system was later expanded upon by Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers to become the familiar Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI.) MBTI expresses personalities in the form of four opposing personality facets (introversion vs. extroversion, intuition vs. sensing, feeling vs. thinking, and judging vs. perceiving.) Your MBTI score reveals an amazing amount of information about your personality. If you have not taken the test, I would recommend you do so HERE. For this article I will be focusing on introversion vs. extroversion. In particular, how extraverts can relate to and communicate with introverts.
Before I get into the heart of this article, it is necessary for me to define exactly what I mean by extroversion and introversion and clear up a common misconception. Here is a brief yet thorough explanation of introversion vs. extroversion from the American Handbook of Psychiatry second edition,
“Extroversion is a flowing of energy toward the outer world; introversion is a flow of energy toward the inner world. The extravert tends to explain things from the point of view of the environment, seeing a fact produced from a person as from without…[he] is at ease in the outer world-with objects, people, and situations….In the introvert the energy flows away from the object to the subject. Unlike the extravert the introvert’s subjective reaction to the outward stimulus is most the important thing. He abstracts from his environment whenever he needs to satisfy his inner processes. He may be shy, taciturn [reserved], impenetrable. “
Essentially, extroverts draw energy from the outer world, making them more sociable, talkative, and fun loving. Introverts draw their energy from the inner world making them more reserved, thoughtful, and sober. In case you have not figured it out by this point, I am an introvert. I am most comfortable within the abstract, subjective world of ideas. In this article I intend to present ways in which my extroverted readers can interact with and understand those of us who are introverts.
Before I move on to my tips, allow me to clear up one common misconception concerning introverts. We are not necessarily shy or socially anxious. Because we operate best in the inner world, large crowds or lots of activity can overwhelm us. Thus, we tend to be quiet at most social gatherings. Don’t mistake us for antisocial, just respect the fact that we may be more comfortable talking with one or two people rather than a large group.
A Hypothetical Scenario
Imagine this for a moment. You are at your best friend’s birthday party. All her guests seem to be having a good time. Cake and ice cream are being served. Laughter and conversation creates a happy din in the home. Suddenly, you notice a lone guy standing in the corner. He isn’t talking to anyone, just standing there, eating his cake quietly and observing the surroundings. Being of a sociable nature, you walk over at attempt to engage him in conversation. As you try to chat, you notice that he seems distant, distracted, and even a little bit scared. You wonder how you can get him to fully engage in your conversation.
What Not to Do
Odds are, the guy you are attempting to talk to is an introvert. Just because you are an extravert does not mean you cannot talk with him effectively. However, there are two major few pitfalls to avoid.
1. Do Not Approach Him en Masse.
There are few things more disturbing to an introvert than being approached by a huge group of people, all grimly determined to talk and make certain he is having a good time. Introverts are easily overwhelmed by large groups. If you wish to get him talking, do not invite him to join your group and do not bring your group to join him. At the most, bring one mutual friend who can assist you in your conversing endeavors.
2. Do Not Make a Spectacle of Him.
When you want to get an introvert into a conversation, don’t ask him to volunteer with you to demonstrate a dance routine or sing publicly or do anything else that makes him the center of attention. We introverts like to be prepared for social interaction and we do not like having to do something (even something we are good at) impromptu.
Those are the two biggest mistakes extraverts make when trying to engage introverts. Now, let’s move onto what to do when engaging introverts!
What to Do!
1. Do Engage Him
Most introverts do not dread conversations. In fact for some, including myself, deep conversations are the highlight of their week! Don’t let an introvert’s antisocial appearance deter you from attempting interaction. You may make his week!
2. Do Give Him a Role
Introverts like having a definite role at social gatherings. If there is a small job you can give him, do it! This should not be something embarrassing, least you fall into pitfall number 2, but anything like doing dishes, clearing plates, or handing out pamphlets will make him feel needed!
3. Do be Real
Introverts like talking to people who are genuine and honest with them. Don’t put on airs. Be yourself! An introvert will appreciate and even admire that! If you are open to him, it may encourage him to be open with you! As Shakespeare famously said, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”
4. Do ask Him Questions
Use questions as a means to gain access to his inner world. Find out what interests him. Ask about his hobbies, family, friends, schoolwork, or job. Once he feels like you genuinely care about him, he will become more at ease.
5. Do Be Deep
Many (but not all) introverts are deep people. They enjoy hard-hitting, hypothetical, abstract ideas. Bring up important subjects and ask for his input. That sends him a message that you care. Also, show your deep side. If he sees that you are more than surfacey and that you also enjoy thinking about and discussing real ideas, he is more likely to open up to you.
6. Do Invite Him Into Your Conversation
Once you know where his interests lie, it is acceptable for you to invite him to join your group IF the group is interested in discussing those same ideas. If he has a role within the group as someone with input and information to share, he may be comfortable joining in on your conversation!
I started out this article by admitting that not all people are the same. This is a beautiful thing! God created us as individuals to impact the world in unique ways! Introversion and extraversion is just one aspect of our Creator’s immaculate design. The more we can recognize these differences and appreciate how to interact with these people, the more of an impact we can make. Extraverts: be bold! Talk with introverts! Learn about the inner world that makes us tick. Introverts: break the bubble! Learn to interact! Appreciate the outer world that energizes extraverts. Who knows? You may even make someone’s day or make a new friend!