Introvert and Extrovert – Three Distinct Differences to Support Each Other

How can extroverts support introverts choices without knowing something about what those choices are? In reading a blogpost by Alan Andrews, he referenced two points from Jonathan Rauch’s 2003, Caring for Your Introvert. Since it was some time since I read the article, I went to read it again to get the context of Rauch’s message. It’s six years later and I believe some extroverts are further along of their understanding of introverts, although most still are right where Rauch put them then. I think it’s because Rauch’s question, “How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice?” was directed at the extrovert who clearly, can’t explain the support to give until he knows what an introvert needs.

Is each of the two preferences like grapes in a cluster? Andrews stated, “I find that when talking to other introverts I don’t get that “on stage” feeling I get when dealing with extroverts. Maybe it’s not that introverts find all people draining, just the extroverts.” Someone, I can’t remember who, said of introverts, “One is company and two is a crowd.” Introversion, according to many people as well as research, is a brain specific preference and not something we choose. The preference is how we get our energy, our stamina. As an INTJ, I can be with any number of people but when it’s a large crowd, I’m likely the first grape to fall off the vine. But as a business sales coach, I help my clients understand the importance for an introvert in business to be aware of that number one land mine of an energy drain and plan for it whether giving a presentation, networking or being in a meeting. Extroverts can dive into a crowd, introverts can manage the land mines. When it comes to business, neither can really leave the field so why not work with our differences?

If you enter a room dressed in red when everyone else is in black and white, what would be your chances of standing out? Rauch stated, “Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people.” I think the same could be said of introverts in a way. Introverts spend so much time in their own heads working out who they are, that when we find ourselves in the midst of that interaction of other people, it can be about as pleasant to the ear as fingernails scratching a blackboard. The defining moment that can give an introvert the unfair advantage is if we lean into our state of natural curiosity and join the conversation, or listen to the interaction – to make sense of it. I coach my introverts clients to listen and enjoy analyzing since prospects do want to be understood; and extroverts to add to the interaction in particular with introverts, with more relevant questions than empty, unfocused, spiel talk.

“You can’t fight City Hall.” Introversion or extroversion is not a choice – an introvert cannot become an extrovert, an extrovert cannot become an introvert. And my guess is that until introverts begin to take a more active role in explaining the differences then each will continue to be “tormented” by the other. Both Andrews and Rauch have a dissatisfaction of this mutual misunderstanding. Even a Ferrari needs a tune-up regularly; so if we can each just keep on talking to clarify the what and why, then the torment will diminish. Sure; the extrovert will likely do more talking but with the introvert can steer the talk with their naturally curious questions. Hopefully, the extrovert will stop talking and the introvert will start listening about the same time!

There are many more differences for certain, differences where we can find a balance and a way for each preference, introversion and extroversion, to support the other.

What differences do you think are in perfect balance?

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