Tag Archives: Extraversion-Introversion

The introvert extra and extravert ham

One thing I hate about a party is a loudmouth who demands the attention of the whole room. That’s why when my wife said we were invited to a good friend’s party last week, my jaw clenched and I told her I’m not staying past 10:00 pm, and oh yeah, we’re traveling in two cars.

I really dig our friends and the majority of cast of characters who comprise the group, but there’s one woman who exhibits one trait of an extravert–the propensity to speak. Except, in her case she dominates a group with her incessant talking.

On the flip side is a male member of the group who is as quiet as a mouse, but when the time is right, he’ll tell a story that will make you laugh until it hurts. Like the story about going camping with a bunch of his buddies. How they had one match between them to light a fire and how they relied on their  Boy Scout experience to light that fire.

Other than a story like this, he rarely says much, preferring to stand among the men in the group and stare into the glow of the fire. I attempt to prompt him with talk of sports and our children, but there’s little in return.

After my friend and the rest of the fathers have it with warming our hands by the fire that night it’s time to go inside where the wives and children are gathered around the woman who is talking about nothing in particular and, it seems to me, literally sucking the air out of the room.

A reader commented on one of my blog posts saying that an extravert who exerts herself excessively can be a ham, whereas an introvert who stays in the background too much runs the risk of being an extra. I see the woman of whom I speak the ham and the man who delivers the hilarious story, albeit infrequently, the extra. I also ponder the question of how introverts and extraverts can better communicate with each other.

  1. First, each type needs to be cognizant of the need for the other to be heard.
  2. Second, active listening must be involved, not merely the appearance of listening.
  3. Lastly, each type must be willing to contribute to the conversation. As I think about the times my male companion and I stand by the fire in silence, I wonder if both of us are doing our part in building a conversation.

My good friend and champion of introverts, Pat Weber, adds about the need for extraverts to be considerate of introverts, “Often times as introverts we aren’t going to share much personal information in a conversation. Extroverts who are aware of this will fare better by giving us some space, with silence, to let us have a moment or so to think! Silent space is one of the most appreciated gifts of better communications with us. Then we can keep our end of things up.”

Introverts have an obligation to contribute to the conversation and not be content with listening to a one-way dialog. Although it may require more energy and adaptability, the introvert doesn’t have to sustain the effort forever. A lack of effort indicates to others aloofness and disinterest–it’s insulting. When all the words are distinguished like the fire in London’s short story, it’s perfectly fine to leave the party…in the second car.

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Why we hate networking for jobs: confessions of a networking convert

Call centre

This is a guest post form one my favorite authors, Rebecca Farser-Thill. I decided to host it because it speaks not only to college students, to whom she gives a kick in the ass, it also speaks to jobseekers of all ages. I’m also hosting it because it’s one article that made my morning coffee go cold–a great sign of compelling writing.

Networking for jobs. When I mention the phrase to my Bates students, their noses wrinkle, their lips grow taut, and the tip of a tongue sometimes protrudes ever so slightly from their mouths. Disgust. That’s what they’re demonstrating. Pure disgust.
Ooo, there’s a balloon at the call center! That makes this job much more appealing. (Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

I get it. I used to be an active member of United Anti-Networking Individualists. It’s a faith that effectively thwarts the creation of a fulfilling career, given that over 80% of jobs are unadvertised. My fellow worshipers and I were left with the plum jobs that everyone knows about, like these from a recent Monster search: Call Center Manager (the only thing worse than having people hang up on you is managing the people who get hung up on); Product Support Supervisor (you get to field calls from people who want to return faulty items; they should be fun to talk with); and Data Entry Clerk (entering client bills all day, every day – be sure to sign up for glasses and carpal tunnel surgery in advance!)

The thing is, I joined the dark side. I now – gasp – proselytize for job networking.

Yes, it’s true. As part of my mission, I offer you the top reasons we hate networking for jobs. And why we’re completely wrong. Based on psychological science, no less.

1. I Don’t Want to Bug People

Leave The Kids At Home And Turn Off The Damn P...Think people will react like this when you contact them? (Photo credit: Cayusa)

Let’s pause for a second and consider what happens when you contact someone with a networking request. You’re essentially saying to that person, hey, you’re in a great position in life and I’d like to emulate you, or at least get closer to emulating you, and I was wondering if I might ask you to talk about yourself for fifteen minutes or so, and share some of the awesome contacts that I’m envious you have made? Ah, yes, I see why this is “bugging people.” Not!

Number one:  People love to talk about themselves. That’s the cardinal rule of human psychology.

Number two: People love to be praised and to feel like they’re doing well on the social hierarchy. The second rule of human psychology.

So, “bugging people”? Uh, not so much.

2. I Want To Be Self-Sufficient

Ah, yes. The Western ideal run amock. I can do it myself! That’s what you think, right? Then why do humans fall apart when they’re socially excluded, suffering from depression and sometimes resorting to extreme aggression? Psychologists Baumeister and Leary claim that our “need to belong” drives much human behavior. In other words, we need one another to survive, both physically and psychologically. You’re going against your basic nature if you assert otherwise. When you’re in need (and when you’re out of work, you are in need) that’s the time to go with your evolutionary instincts, not fight against them. 

3. I Have the Wrong Personality For Networking

OK, you’re onto something here. Psychologists Wolff and Kim found that people who are extraverted and high in openness to experience are more likely to network for jobs than people with introverted, closed personalities. That said, personality does not dictate all of our behavior. We may have to go “against type” in order to network, but we’re required to go against type everyday for a variety of reasons.

I mean, for a true introvert, holding a spontaneous conversation can be excruciating. But introverts manage to do this all the time (thankfully). You’re not being asked to change who you are in order to begin networking for jobs; just to channel a different way of relating to the world. And only for a short while. Besides, if you are an introvert looking for a career, you’re probably drawn to career paths that other introverts love. Meaning you get to network with other introverts. That’s hella comforting (speaking from my introverted self).

4. I Don’t Have a Network

Isolated House - CasolareYou live here? (Photo credit: Aesum)

Oh wow, you’re a hermetic isolate who lives in a cave? I always wanted to meet someone like you (it’s very hard to do, seeing as how people like you never emerge from your dwellings). What, you’re not? You actually live in the real world? Then, hate to break it to you, you have a network. A network isn’t some fancy-schmancy secret club of Ivy League graduates who sit around drinking scotch while their chauffeurs polish the Mercedes. A network is just people. Plain ol’ people. If you ever talk to anybody, then you have a network. Period.

But wait, I feel my psychic skills abuzzing; your rebuttal is ringing in my ears:

5. No One In My Network Knows Anything About My Field

This may be true. Maybe your network is full of people with careers you detest, or with backgrounds you’d rather not admit. But who’s in their network? And in those people’s networks?

Here’s a tale from my anti-networking days:  I attended a career seminar at Cornell, back when I was plotting my great escape from grad school. To prove the power of networking, the career counselor made us each pair up with a random person in the room and see if we couldn’t comb their network for someone related to what we wanted to do (and they ours). My partner got an immediate bingo from me; my dad worked in his prospective field. I, on the other hand, came up with peanuts from him. Peanuts.

There, I thought, proof that networking is a joke.

Flickr friendsNone of your friends knows anything useful? Bummer… (Photo credit: Meer)

The counselor then went around the room, making everyone announce the connections they’d made. And they all had made connections. Except for me. (LOSER!)

When I professed my failure, the counselor kept hounding my partner and I, refusing to let the subject drop. You really have nothing to offer her? You can’t get anything from him?Nope, we said, nothing.

As the seminar concluded, I went over to my partner and offered my email address, so that he could get in touch with my dad. As I handed it to him, I noticed a word on his Izod shirt (this clothing choice alone offers insight into why we had nothing in common). “Falmouth,” I said, reading the word on his shirt. “As in Maine?”

“My Grandma lives there. Has her whole life.”

“That’s where I’m planning to move in a few months. To Falmouth, or nearby. And I don’t know a single soul there.”

The career counselor leaped over, like a possessed little jackal. “A-ha! I told you! Networking works!”

I glared at her, desperate to cling to my ideology. But as I talked to the grandma on the phone the next day, getting tips on where to live and where not to; the local publications in which to search for jobs; and the contact info of her niece who worked in social services, I couldn’t help but question my anti-networking faith. Could networking be this powerful? And this easy? But still:

6. I Hate Using People

Here’s the biggie, especially for you Millennials. Although you’ve come of age in the era of social networking, you’re loathe to “use” those networks for personal gain. They’re about self-expression and connection, right? Not about the trading of favors.

First, re-read Point #1 above.

Then stop and consider how you feel when you have a service you can offer to someone else. In the case of networking for jobs, it may be information about a certain career path, a connection to someone at your company, or the link to a friend or relative working in a particular industry. We humans are altruistic beings at heart, so when we give, we experience enhanced psychological well-being and decreased feelings of stress. We also earn social support from our actions.

As writer Elizabeth Scott says, “When people make altruistic personal sacrifices, they end up reaping what they sow in the form of favors from others. These individuals earn the reputation as altruistic people and end up receiving favors from others who they may not have even directly helped.”

So, in essence, when you’re asking others to help you, you’re giving them the opportunity to experience more well-being, less stress, and the likelihood of returned favors in their future. Oh yes, this sounds like “using” somebody alright. Whatever you say.

Final Thoughts

Chances are I haven’t made you a convert to networking for jobs just yet. It takes time. I know. But when you decide you’re ready to fail Career Avoidance 101, a great start is to accept networking into your life.

I’m not only a Nutty for Networking  member. I’m its President.

So what did I miss? What deters you from networking for jobs?

Introverts, come to peace with who you are

As an introvert I often admire–no envy–people who seem totally relaxed with small talk and “working the room.” That’s not me, however.

I know the importance of small talk and mingling, and I do my best to oblige the members of a party or networking event. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not all that great when it comes to this small talk stuff.

That being said, I don’t want you to pity people like me. Where we lack the gift of gab, we excel in thoughtful rhetoric. Could you say we’re deep? You could, but that’s really missing the point. We enjoy conversation as much as the next person, just not at a supersonic rate.

In other words, we are who we are. Introverts are people who could care less about mastering small talk; we’re more inclined to speak at length with someone…maybe the whole night. We engage, listen, engage, listen, etc. An article called The Problem with Networking illustrates the often futility of working the room, yet the benefits of honing in on one or two people who will later prove to be useful connections. I quote the authors of the article, Stephen and Sheree Van Vreede:

“….My point is that I have watched job seekers work a room, build large social media communities, and network, network, network like the best of them, all with very little result. Many of these people are extroverts, love mingling, and are the life of most parties, but that’s where it ends….At the same time, I have seen other job seekers, introverted techies with small communities who like to sit in the corner at every party, hone in on the top handful of contacts and turn almost every one into a possible job lead.”

Don’t take this as an invitation to talk at us and expect us to listen without wanting to express our thoughts; we have thoughts, you know. We offer the courtesy of hearing you and then building on that conversation. We like to ask questions to generate conversation. We also like to be asked questions and complete answering your questions. Allowing us the time to process shows you’re truly interested in what we have to say.

It is said that at an event we enjoy developing a relationship with people with whom we feel connected. If we are talking with one person the whole time, we’re not bummed out. We don’t consider this a loss. On the contrary, we feel satisfied. Do you think this weird? We’re not, like, into collecting 15 business cards, most of which we’ll deposit in the circular file cabinet. We want real connections.

That’s part of connecting with fewer people–it’s easier for us to keep track of them. I’ve been at networking events where I’ve met 10 people or so, but only two or three were memorable. These were the ones I followed up with, the people with whom I developed a relationship. As they say, less can be better.

If you’re an extravert and thinking, “This guy’s a freak. This guy’s a hermit,” that’s fine. Think what you want. This is who I am, not who I’m not. There ain’t much I can do about it, not if I want to feel comfortable and fulfilled in my networking endeavors. And, no, I’m not here to offer you introverts hollow advice on how to be more like extraverts….I’ve come to peace with who I am.