Extroverts Rule/Introverts are Cool!
I've been seeing a lot of pro-introvert memes and graphics floating around social media the last few weeks. What I find most interesting about this recent trend are the heated comments that follow these posts. People are pretty stirred up on the topic!
From what I gather, there seems to be a common misconception that some introverts believe that extroverts think they are superior - that the world would be a far better place if all introverts adopted extroverted traits.
Some of the introverts on these threads share feeling highly misunderstood, while extroverts share that they are feeling labeled as pushy, insensitive a-holes.
I am what is called an Ambivert, I have a solid foot in both personality types. This balance offers an interesting perspective in that my extroverted side has always embraced the qualities my introverted side provides, while my introverted side adores my what my extrovert brings to the table.
For example, my introvert craves regular solitude. I need time in nature and with animals and my rescue pets. However, because I am a busy professional, my schedule doesn't always allow for this. That is where my extrovert steps in and is fiercely protective about my boundaries and privacy.
My introvert's energy is often drained by large crowds (i.e. Disneyland, concerts), and I appreciate working on solo projects like writing quietly on my own. So my extrovert steps in and makes sure that I clearly manage expectations of others with respect to my time, and reminds me that it is my job to let my no be no, and my yes be yes...often using humor in doing so.
My extroverted side celebrates and reminds my introvert that I am a social butterfly too. I love being highly independent and creative, yet I derive great joy out of entertaining and socializing with friends!
I adore meeting new people, public speaking, group projects, and new experiences. I am an idea person who likes to lean into risks, make connections, and manifest dreams in my life while supporting the dreams of others.
Aesthetics are important to my extroverted side (my surroundings, fashion, nature). My introvert guards my time management and honors my dedication and organization. While my extrovert reminds my introvert not to take herself so seriously...to laugh and to play.
How to Hurt both Types
Nothing will leave healthy extroverts feeling more hurt and unsafe than people, places or experiences who assume the worst about their energy and passion, or those who assign ill intentions to the extrovert, compete with the extrovert in passive aggressive ways, are motivated by envy, do not acknowledge the extrovert's contributions publicly, judge the extrovert, or rain on their enthusiasm with subtle digs and disloyalty. The extrovert is also confused by those who refuse to take a stand, those who play devil's advocate for the sake of attention seeking, and those who expect the extrovert to read their minds, and mean girls/guys.
Nothing will leave healthy introverts feeling more angry and frustrated than people, places and experiences who refuse to express appreciation, who snub them publicly, take or use their ideas without permission, expect that they will give their time and ideas away for free over and over again, or assume they are a push over. The introvert is confused by people who refuse to take ownership of their negative behavior (passive or aggressive), those who are disloyal, those who build up complaints and then unload them suddenly, wishy washy boundaries, and those who lack insight into their own challenges.
And nothing pisses either personality type off more than people who take for granted the extrovert's generosity, kindness and loyalty, and the introvert's support, guidance and patience. Simply because an extrovert extends the benefit of the doubt, provides advise and a good listening ear - doesn't mean they don't need that same support and consideration as well now and again.
One thing that is surprising to many people (usually introverts) is that extroverts are just as sensitive as introverts. They often don't like to be labeled as "the strong one", just as introverts don't liked to be lumped into one singular category labeled as "the quiet one." You cannot consistently mistreat, exclude or snub a healthy extrovert over a period of time and think they will keep taking it on the chin forever. They won't. And extroverts will be often give you direct feedback on their experience.
And make no mistake about it, if an introvert chooses to turn the other cheek when you are unkind, assumptive, or non-inclusive, this doesn't mean there is not an impact on the heart of the introvert. They may appear stoic on the outside, but when experiencing unkind behaviors, subtle and not so subtle, they are often cut to the core. The healthy introvert will see right through a carefully constructed public persona, and knows when they are being BS'd and overlooked. You can't pull the wool over an introvert's eyes for long.
And do not attempt to gaslight an introvert or an extrovert. Gas lighting is a form of manipulation where one person contributes covert or overt hurtful behaviors over time (i.e. little digs, snubs, passive aggressive jokes, gossip, non-inclusive choices, changes their boundaries back and forth, bait and switch tactics, refuses to own their anger, and so forth). When the person being gaslighted calls this out, the gaslighter minimizes the person's feelings, takes zero ownership, and instead turns it around and labels the person they have hurt as "crazy" or in the wrong, and refuses to have a healing conversation based in reality.
A healthy extrovert will almost always call bullshit and seek healthy resolution when a conflict happens. If that is refused to them, they will use their hurt as motivation to move forward in BIG ways. The best motivator for an extrovert is to tell them they can't achieve something. I promise you they will take that challenge and go above and beyond expectations.
A healthy introvert may stew over the pain of rejection for a bit , but will eventually use their hurt as a bridge toward success. They will be the turtle in the race, quietly, slowly, carefully and consistently moving toward their goal. Then BAM! Their book is published, their project is launched, and they are living their dreams while the mean girls/boys sit back scratching their heads wondering how that happened.
If you are an unhealthy extrovert crossing boundaries overtly do not be surprised when an introvert withdraws from you. If you are an unhealthy introvert crossing boundaries covertly, do not be surprised when an extrovert reaches their limits and puts you in your place.
Important note: This blog is about healthy extro/into/and ambiverts. People who are far from perfect, but are doing the work to continue to grow and change unhealthy behaviors. How can you tell if you are healthy or unhealthy? When was the last time someone called you on your crap, and in response, you privately or publicly made an apology to that person without trying to control their experience or personalize their feedback? If your answer is never, or not in a very long time, then I'd ask, "Who is calling you on your crap these days?" Because no one is that special of a snowflake.
We all make choices that hurt others, and we don't get to decide that person's reality. If I haven't made a healthy amends to a person in my life at least once every few weeks, then guess what, I'm out of practice and likely not looking very clearly through that other person's lens.
Celebrating Both Types
At the end of the day, the extrovert, the introvert, and the ambivert (when healthy) bring a myriad of strengths to the table. Whether it is a board room table, a dining room table, a card table, a coffee table, or a virtual table...celebrating and learning from each other, without assumption or judgement, is incredibly valuable.
For all of you introverts out there (including me), let's stop bashing the extroverts and begin learning from them, they bring the zing-a-ling to our ring-a-ding. And for all of you extroverts out there (including me), let's remember to slow our roll and make room for the introverts pace and energy. And for both, it's good to take a breath and listen more carefully and own our crap when we treat others in less than kind ways.
In closing, I am thankful that my friends include a diverse and wonderful bunch of folks - some introverts (my two besties), some ambiverts like myself, and some extroverts. I can't imagine only hanging out with introverts or extroverts! I learn and grow from having both in my life.
What about you? Are you an innie, outie or a little of both like me? What has your experience been? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Kindly and in support,