Understanding Your Extrovert

There has been a lot floating around the Internet about understanding introverts . . . and that’s a very good thing. Sometimes, we extroverts just don’t get it. I’ll be the first to admit that. However, I don’t think we outgoing types are as easy to read as you may think. Here is a mini handbook of sorts – often tongue-in-cheek – to dispel some of the myths.

Myth #1

We talk just to hear our own voices.

Hopefully, we talk because we have something meaningful to say.

Myth #2

We flip “the on switch” and jabber on without really thinking about what we’re saying.

No, there really is that much going on in our brains, and one thought inevitably leads to the next to the next to the next – and we have to share or we might explode.

Myth #3

We talk because we’re not interested in your thoughts and opinions.

We have to breathe like everyone else (though my husband has accused me of talking while I’m breathing in). That’s lots of time to add your insights. And is it really our fault if you don’t fully formulate your thoughts before we move onto the next topic? (When my mom, sister, and I used to have conversations, my hubby would make all manner of squeaking noises. “Why?” you ask. It was a word, “trying to get in edgewise.” True story.)

NOTE: I meant no offense here. Most extroverts have to learn to be good listeners. When we’re quiet, we can’t simply be biding our time until we have/make an opportunity to interject. We also have to learn that introverts communicate in many ways, rarely by using a plethora of words.

Myth #4

We’re “bossy” because we think we know more than you.

We would rather refer to it as “taking charge,” “giving leadership,” “being decisive.”

Myth #5

We always want to choose the restaurant, vacation destination, and colour to paint the walls.

Granted, it’s likely we have an opinion about these and all other topics. However, we admire the introvert who makes a decision ahead of time and surprises us . . . or I’d hope so, at least.

Myth #6

We regularly look around when we do go out to eat because we’re not interested in the person/people we’re with.

It’s just that all those other people and all those other conversations attract our attention and reel us in.

Myth #7

We’re addicted to TV.

When I was a girl – a long time ago when the earth was green – I was known to watch TV, listen to the radio, and read a book – all at the same time. I didn’t know I was an extrovert back then. However, growing up in the country, my brother and sister already having flown the nest, meant I wanted company. These fictitious characters became my friends.

Myth #8

We read books like everyone else.

As an extension of my response to Myth #7, I am much more interested in the characters in a book than in the plot. If I care about them, I will read on. If they’re two-dimensional and unrealistic – even if the plot is well-crafted and intriguing – I will be tempted to set it aside. I’m not sure, but this may be true of other extroverts as well.

Myth #9

We never want to be alone.

Despite what I’ve said previously, there are times we just want to curl up in a corner and be alone. Mind you, these times won’t likely last long, but they do happen.

Myth #10

If we’re quiet, you know something must be wrong.

This is a tricky one because sometimes it’s bang on. My advice . . . get to know the extroverts in your life well to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Myth #11

We say yes to every request because we want everyone to love us.

Again, there may be some truth in this statement. However, I’d like to think we get involved in so many endeavours because we love to help others and spend time with them. Yes, let’s go with that.

Myth #12

We’re the last to leave the party – or any gathering of more than two people – because we love to irritate and exhaust the introverts we came with.

There are social introverts and anti-social extroverts. However, as a generalization, I envision the difference this way. Think of the battery icon on your electronic device. If an introvert had such an icon, the longer they were with others, the less available power there’d be. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge more quickly the longer they’re interacting with others. By the end of the evening, even if the extrovert was tired and really didn’t want to go out, he/she will be flying high.

On behalf of all extroverts who bring these mythical creatures to life, I apologize. And to all extroverts, a warning: Make sure these statements aren’t true of you. (Trust me . . . I must do an inventory of my own motives on a regular basis.)

16 thoughts on “Understanding Your Extrovert

  1. Ramona

    I liked reading this.

    I’m the introvert with extroverted moments. For example, when I’m in a small group or during a one on one conversation with an individual I trust. My best thinking is away from the maddening crowd. But then, God stretches me by putting me with individuals (on the plane for example) where I end up talking a blue streak. And they to me. Afterwards I’ll wonder “What was that all about?”.

    Would Jesus have been tagged as an introvert or as an extrovert? He spend his life with people and yet he made time, or tried to get away and be alone. I’ve never heard anyone ever talk on this. Hmmm

    Speaking of quiet time. I’m off to walk in the snow in the bush with my dog. Hopefully we won’t meet too many people. (:

    Ramona Furst

  2. As a social introvert, I can only admire extroverts. My problem is that I have no second sentences. Like people say, “Isn’t the weather nice?” Well, the sun’s shining, bird singing, etc., so of course it is. So, no second sentence. However, if someone greets me with “I wrestled pov last night,” or “Did you know that Archduke Franz Ferdinand lived to be ninety?” I’d have lots of second sentences and could party till breakfast. Like, “So World War I shouldn’t started?” I guess what I’m saying is that I cannot “spark” off banality, and so, so many situations require second sentences that my mind cannot manufacture. Sad, but true.

    Maybe there’s a new category — I’m a social entity without second sentences. So, I guess the trick is to be the person with the first sentence. Hmmmm.

    1. My second son would be in the same category, Bev. He has trouble striking up a conversation or adding a second sentence . . . until you hit upon a topic that sparks his interest. At that point, it’s wise for listeners to zip their lip, sit back, and drink in his enthusiasm.

  3. As an extrovert I laughed at every one of your points. But here is something that I wonder if you have ever been accused of Stephanie. My children (and sometimes my husband) all accuse me of having ADHD! Yes, my thoughts come fast and quick and yes I am easily distracted. Yes, it does take everything within me to listen patiently and not interject before my introverted family (all of them are introverts! Imagine being the only extrovert in the family. It’s torture!) gets to the point. My husband will take the long route to make a point. Going into great detail about something that really could be answered with a yes or no. It drives me crazy! Do I have ADHD? No. I had myself checked. I am just a regular Type A (which makes it worse) extrovert.

    Very funny post. Thanks.

    1. I’m among the minority in my family and my hubby’s. (That’s why I get to give the eulogies.) I realize I have ADHD tendencies, but I prefer to call them perfectly normal extrovert behaviours. Let’s see; that would be PNEB. Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend.

  4. Heather

    Ah, this piece made me laugh out loud and I am still smiling. As a bit of an introvert, I have surprised people from time to time and acted against type and this always surprises people. They think, what got into her. 🙂 So, I guess there is some extrovert lurking in me and that’s a very good thing. I mentioned before sometimes your mind is on speed. 🙂 It pays for us (others) to listen closely for the gems that come flying out. Love you and Merry, Merry Christmas. Blessings to you.

    1. I’ve been mulling over this subject for a while, my friend, but it came to me more fully formed. It was fun to write . . . and it got the dialogue going – always a good thing.
      Have a Joyous Christmas and a Blessing-Filled New Year.

  5. Ramona

    Family and friends are still trying to label me. The question that helped me understand myself years ago was, “How do you get recharged?”

    I’ve come to accept myself for who I am. I’ll put myself ‘out there’ when necessary but make no apologies for the need to retreat and regroup. Gary Smalley wrote the book Four Love Languages of Love. For me, if I were to choose from: quality time, acts of service, gifts and words of encouragement/affirmation I’d want to have quality time with the people I care about. That’d be the way you could best say “I love you” to me. Second would be affirmation/encouragement. Smalley says that sometimes what we need is also what we give others, but not always. My daughter for example would say, “Don’t tell me that you love me, or spend time with me, show me… like clean my house for me.”
    Wish I had understood that more when she was younger.

    Blessings and God’s best to all of you for 2014

  6. Do people really think these things about an extrovert? I think of an extrovert as someone who is outgoing, one of the first to offer help if he/she can help, someone who is more open-minded, and is not as closed off as someone who is introverted.

    How did I do?

    1. Extroverted people are often more outgoing. However, we’re not always the first to offer help. I find many people who are busy behind the scenes are introverts, often going above and beyond. I’m not sure about the open-minded thing either. I think that might be a 50/50 split. While introverts may appear to be “closed off,” they may simply be mulling over their response. And while extroverts may appear to be open, they may be using humour and their outgoing nature to hide/deny deep hurts. Just some things to consider.

      At any rate . . . have a wonderful Christmas season, Glynis, and thanks for commenting.

  7. Ramona

    Okay, what do you mean by outgoing? I’m not the life of the party, crowds exhaust me. I don’t like being the center of attention. I’d rather help behind the scenes. When I helped to train and teach hospice volunteers prepping for the classes wasn’t an issue. I just didn’t like being up in front of the class. I intentionally used my teaching time to have the class break into small groups. Helpful for me emotionally, but allowed the students to get to know each other better.

    Again I’d ask what do you mean by open-minded? Are we then talking about a matter of the heart? An attitudinal issue? I see being an introvert &/or extrovert and anything in between more about personality types and tendencies. Closed off, maybe because of shyness, lack of confidence &…. but not because I’m rigid in my thinking.

    Glynis, I’m curious. Where are you happiest? Where do you thrive best?

    Now I really must get cracking. And I am smiling because I’m going to our church for one final practice before we go to the mall and do a “flash mob” moment – on one of the busiest weekends of the year!!
    Go figure (:

    Grateful to God that He’s wired us all so differently and I admit, like someone once said, “There are times I do get tired of myself”.

    1. We most definitely have to factor in personality types and our personal history – which often determines how we deal with specific issues.

      Actually, there are an almost infinite number of factors. I don’t think any of us fit neatly into any given “box.”

      Have a Spectacular Christmas!

  8. Found this thread through Twitter. I’m a bit late on it, but had to have my say. I’m an introvert on the end of the scale. However, I’m a professional extrovert. Put me in front of an audience of 200 + and I can do what needs to be done, no problem. Give me a role, I’m fine. But put in a place where small talk is required and I’m lost. I’ll probably take off as soon as I can. Like Bev, I don’t have a second sentence when it comes to the mundane.

    Here’s a story to consider. What happens when an extreme introvert and an extreme extrovert are trapped together, with no other input? I’ll tell you. One or both goes nuts! This happened when my daughter was injured and left disabled. We were isolated in the country, no way to get her together with her friends. She needed my interaction desperately to recharge, and I needed to have undisturbed alone time to recharge. She became depressed. I became suicidal. (We both survived, thanks to our Lord!)

    The take away from this story – if you ever see someone in a similar situation, be the third party for them on a regular basis so they can maintain their sanity! 🙂

  9. Ramona

    Bobbi! You were meant to find this “thread through Twitter” !!!!

    I’ve been poked, prodded, pushed by God to do things that require an extreme extroverted personality. Like putting together a conference, finding people to speak, asking people to support financially (ME??? Are you kidding? I apologized every time I approached someone to consider helping – sure they’d say “no”.) Not only did “Mending Broken Hearts” happen in Northern Ontario, but we came out in the end with money left over. Oh me of little faith. ) I survived to tell this tale to you, but it was a lesson I needed to learn spiritually about myself and God. I sure wouldn’t have chosen the journey with my personality had I been in the drivers seat. (:

    But I SO totally get your story with your daughter. My oldest daughter and I are both extreme introverts. Its been an interesting relationship and she’s soon to be 38. Its hard work to be in a relationship no matter what, and as you and Bev have said, if small talk/chit-chat isn’t in your nature, its exhausting. What I find so bizarre, is I don’t mind encountering people and engaging in some wonderful conversations when I’m travelling. Is it because I find it safer, knowing I’ll never see them ever again?

    My last observation. I also get how you feel about being in front of large crowds. I use to be a professional storyteller. 50-100 people were never a problem for me. The same feeling I have, standing in front of my church family reading out loud God’s Word. But coffee hour????

    Man oh man! Did you ever getting me talking. Thank you Jesus there are some people in this world who might, just might understand me.

    Ramona

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