The Most Important Thing Extroverts Need to Know About Introverts
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It was a second-grade room full of Tarzan wannabes. Every classmate echoed their best impression. One particularly enthusiastic boy beat his chest and bellowed his call.
Not to be outdone by a boy my daughter jumped on top of her desk, pulled her shirt up to her neck and beat her own bare chest with an “I’ll match you and raise you” version of the yell.
It should come as no surprise that my daughter is an extrovert. I think she gets it from her mother. When people tell me I’m an extrovert I’ve decided it’s for one of two reasons: 1) they like me and it’s a compliment or 2) they are annoyed with me and it’s a polite way of telling me to chill.
Did you know that extroverts make up close to 75% of the population? That means that if you’re an introvert you are outnumbered 3:1. Wow. Seems to me that could feel like being a lone prairie dog in a pasture full of coyotes.
If it’s true “majority rules” then we extroverts need to be careful because if there is one thing we need to know about our introverted friends, it’s this:
We desperately need them.
The reasons are virtually limitless but for the sake of time, we’ll look at just five. The world needs introverts because:
They have calm demeanors.
They make great listeners.
They offer depth of reflection and insight.
They make good observers.
They think before they speak.
Introverts and extroverts can share these characteristics to one degree or another. Rarely is a person 100% extrovert or introvert but, generally speaking, an introvert will excel in these five areas.
The calm disposition of an introvert is the yin to the yang of an extrovert’s excitability. The extrovert may tell everyone it’s time to take cover because of a tornado but it will be their introverted companion that remembers to grab the flashlight and radio.
An extrovert may be able to talk a leg off but talking to thin air is not very validating. However, when an introverted friend patiently listens to the extrovert’s chatter it finds a home where common sense (not emotion) can either affirm or re-direct.
The extrovert may be ready and willing to fight for right but without the reflection and insight of their introverted counterparts they may be too quick to pull the trigger. The extroverts “both guns loaded” approach is much more effective when they have an introvert in their camp to make sure their guns have good aim.
Every extrovert needs an introvert to sit across from them at a restaurant. The introvert’s observational skills help them read the people at the table. Consequently, they will know exactly when to kick their extroverted companion in the shin because they totally missed a social cue.
Extroverts have a lot to learn from introverts about the art of conversation. The extrovert may have to sit on their tongue but if they can keep quiet long enough they’ll be awed by the pause that happens before their introverted friend speaks. Extroverts can learn not to be afraid of silence in a conversation when they take note of the thoughtful and careful speech an introverted person possesses.
In the interest of not being one sided let’s look at two things an introvert could consider:
It is to an introvert’s benefit when they participate in activities with their extroverted friends. They can accept that they will be stretched but they can also implement balance by creating a margin which will allow them to participate but pull back when they need to recharge.
Introverts can choose not to envy the joy and enthusiasm of their extroverted counterparts. Rather, they can relish and benefit from these traits as much as an extrovert profits from the disposition of an introvert.
I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs which says,
Today I’m celebrating both my introverted and extroverted friends…I can’t imagine a world without either!
Savoring the journey with you,