4 lessons extraverts could learn from introverts

loud colleague

A colleague recently said to me that she’s tired of reading “self-help” articles for introverts and wonders why none are written for extraverts. After all, she said, extraverts aren’t perfect. Good point I told her. But I also added there’s no market for articles or books on extraverts.

In fact, when you search for books on Amazon about extraverts or look on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, you’ll find nada. They’re just not worth writing about, it seems.

Society has been writing and talking about the shortcomings of introverts for so long that it’s as though, for lack of better words, “Introverts need help.” Some books even talk about how introverts can be more like their counterpart, how you can program your brain to be more extraverted.

But what about the extraverts? Certainly they can use some adjusting. So let’s flip the coin here and discuss how extraverts could learn a thing or two from introverts.

1. Extraverts should listen more than they talk. Sometimes when I’m in the company of extraverts, I feel like I’m in the middle of battling banjos. Who can outdo the others with the number of words they get in, and does the conversation even matter?

Introverts prefer deeper discussions and think before they talk. Small talk is not their forte, but there’s cohesion and focus in their dialog. Extraverts should take a lesson from the introverts in terms of how to talk with each other, not talk at each other.

2. Extraverts should learn to be by themselves. Have you ever noticed how extraverts can’t sit still or be by themselves for an extended period of time? It’s as if they’re waiting for another person to enter the room so they have someone to be with. extraverts are drawn to other people and stimulation; it recharges their batteries.

Introverts, on the other hand, are completely fine being alone—in fact they often prefer it. This is called reflection or, in my mind, sanity. Introverts also prefer less “noise” than extraverts. My wife, who demonstrates the traits of an E, has the radio and television blaring at the same time. This is enough to drive me crazy.

3. Extraverts should practice a little humility. One of the extraverts’ strengths is an appearance of confidence in the job search. But their lack of humility may hurt their chances at an interview, where they come across as arrogant and too forceful. The same may be true when networking. I’m thinking now about the time I was cornered by three people consecutively at an event.

Introverts are more patient at networking events and interviews. They give the appearance of listening. I say “give the appearance” because often they’re overpowered by extraverts while networking (related to #1). Note: at interviews introverts may be more reflective and less forthcoming. There needs to be a balance between the two.

4. Extraverts should be considerate of others’ time. I understand extraverts’ preferred mode of communication is verbal, but not every day is a party. If you see an introvert dutifully typing away at her computer, this is a sign that she’s busy and doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Shoot an introvert an e-mail instead of barging into his cubicle with news of your sister’s new child. I’m sure it’s interesting to you, but there is a time and place where the Introverts would love to hear about the good news….Not really. Note: introverts may come across as aloof if they don’t leave their office or cubicle to mingle a bit.

My colleague will probably look at this post as an effort to bash extraverts, but I’ll remind her that with a little fine tuning both introverts and extraverts can function entirely well in society. I, for one, envy extraverts’ ability to make small talk and have made a stronger effort to be better at chit chat. Although my patience wanes rather quickly when an extravert wants to talk at length about her sister’s new child.


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