A lot of us think that an extrovert is something like a perpetual social butterfly, who needs to be constantly surrounded by an audience while an introvert is more like an anti-social hermit who can’t handle the outside world. As with most extremes, neither of these perceptions is actually true.
Let’s explore the various “verts” in all their glory. Along the way, we’ll explain:
- Where this whole classification came from
- How to best interact with your opposite vert
- Direct you to a fantastic resource to figure out where you fall on the spectrum
What Are They?
The terms introvert and extrovert (originally extravert, in case you were wondering) were made popular by famed Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. While over time, most people came to understand these two terms as being mutually exclusive—meaning you were either one or the other–Jung’s original theory stated that no one could be a pure introvert or extrovert. If someone were to embody all traits of either extreme, Jung stated, they would be committed to a mental institution. Instead, we fall into a broad spectrum of traits ranging from introversion to extroversion known as the Ambivert Personality Continuum Scale. Where we fall on this spectrum is largely influenced by genetics and has more to do with where we draw energy from than it does with our behavior.
Those with more introverted tendencies tend to feel recharged after spending time alone. They feel drained after spending large amounts of time around other people, particularly large crowds.
Those with extroverted tendencies are the opposite. They tend to draw their energy from the company of others and can begin to feel drained after spending time alone.
Jung’s theory states that extroverts have a lower basic rate of arousal that requires outside stimulation. Introverts, however, are able to be stimulated more easily, which negates the need for an outside source.
**To be perfectly clear, we are talking about mental stimulation here. Get your mind out of the gutter!Can They Be Friends?
While those with introverted tendencies and those with extroverted tendencies have different ways of navigating social situations and may not seem well suited to one another, it’s not impossible to form a relationship with an opposite vert. Keeping in mind the types of situations that each type thrives in, the best way to navigate an “ambi-vert” relationship is to keep activities and environments balanced.
Communication styles can be a source of instant conflict between the two types. As extroverts are recharged through social interaction, they can become extremely enthusiastic, animated and loud in conversation, while an introvert may be more inclined to grow quieter as time goes on. This makes it easy for an extrovert to bulldoze a conversation, leaving an introvert frustrated.
Introverts: Use your quiet tendencies to your advantage and listen. By actively listening to an extroverted speaker, you give yourself the opportunity to ask deep, insightful questions when you are ready.
Extroverts: Build in a pause button. If you know you are spending time with someone who tends to be a little more introverted, remind yourself to take a break in the conversation and ask something about them.
Working with Both
If you find yourself in frequent situations having to deal with both introverts and extroverts (social events, work, family, etc.), there are a couple things that you can do to ease the interaction.
Pairings: It’s often easier for an introvert to talk one-on-one with someone than it is for them to be social in a group. The extrovert half of the pair will still thrive from interaction and it will allow them to form a more substantial connection than if they were placed in a large group.
Activities: “Icebreakers” can be great for both extroverts and introverts. Giving introverts quick questions (like the “2 facts and a lie” game) takes the pressure off of introverts and gives extroverts the chance to exhibit.
If you would like to learn more about introversion/extroversion, visit the Quiet Revolution. While this site is a dedicated space for introverts, it can also act as a fantastic resource for extroverts looking to learn more about dealing with introverted friends/family members/co-workers, clients, etc.
To find out where you fall on the spectrum, try the site’s Personality Test.