In defence of the Extraverts. (We have needs too, you know!)


A lot gets written by people like me (eg this article) about how we Extraverts need to appreciate the Introverts more. Susan Cain’s Quiet.  The power of the introverted mind in a world that can’t stop talking is a  superb commentary on the value that the quieter people bring, and it’s a great help in appreciating the very different world that people with the Introversion preference inhabit (click here to work out which is your preference).

Promoting self

 

But what about the needs of the Extravert?

This subject tends to get overlooked somewhat.  Why?  Because Extraverts are seen generally to have, on the face of it, an unfair advantage in life.  Society seems to favour the outgoing style, the natural relationship builders, the gregarious and socially at-ease.  Kids are encouraged to develop their social skills from an early age, and playing quietly in your bedroom or reading is something we as parents have to “watch out for” and “adjust” if it seems to be developing into a “bad habit.”

So because the Extraverts are seen to have the advantage, we encourage them to compensate for the Introverts rather than the other way around.  Allow Introverts more space, give them time to think, gently encourage them to open up in meetings, don’t expose them or pounce on them in public, slow things down, shut up for once in your life, run silent brainstorming sessions……

But this is a two way street, surely?  Society is split more or less 50/50 into Introverts and Extraverts, so in the interest of fairness surely the Introverts need to adjust as well?  Too right, say I.  Let’s hear it for the Extraverts!

So, in what way do we want the Introverts to adjust?

Which one is your favourite?

Which one is your favourite?

I think this grid, for which I’m grateful to Knowledge is Power, is a great place to start.  All of these work for me, particularly number 7.  Just ask my wife.  Put me in front of a problem and I will want to attack it immediately (preferably with a 14lb sledgehammer).  It can produce surprising results (and of course regularly ends in disaster).

It’s great advice for an Introverted Leader who may have a bunch of Extraverts in his or her team.  Susan Cain makes the point that Introverted leaders who have a proactive team can make a great partnership.  Using the principles shown on this grid, the energy of an Extroverted team can really be unleashed.  It’s a case of “light the blue touchpaper and stand well back”, as the rocket fires off into the night sky, fizzing and cracking as it goes.  Just make sure that fireworks are allowed, and that you have pointed it in the right direction, well away from that thatched roof.

I’d love to hear from the Introverts what other strategies they use for harnessing the potential of the Extraverts they work with.

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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12 Responses to In defence of the Extraverts. (We have needs too, you know!)

  1. RudyM says:

    Citation for introverts and extroverts being about equal portions of the population? This is not what I have usually read.

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  2. Sammy says:

    Thank you so much for this article. Being an extroverted thinker , I am surrounded by introverted feelers, and I must say learning how to effectively communicate with them is difficult for me. At times my thought process seems trapped. I have to think twice before I say what I’m thinking…and translate my thoughts into feelings all the while making sure I do not offend with my words.

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    • Hi Sammy

      Yes, having to slow your thinking down and be less extraverted is hard, but at least you are showing your colleagues respect by adapting in this way. Is it worth telling them that this is what you try to do, and have them understand how difficult it is to do all the time?

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  3. Pingback: Confessions of An Apologetic Extravert. | CoSupport, LLC

  4. I definitely agree with what you have to say. Being an introvert myself, more specifically an INFP, I was very disappointed and ashamed when I came across an INFP forum dedicated to bashing Extraverted-Thinkers. They were saying that they should be more considerate of our (INFPs) feelings and that they were all cold and emotionless people. It made me so angry because it is not an extraverts job to look out for an introvert! Besides that would just add to the stigma that Introverted-Feelers are all fragile little butterflies, which we most certainly are not. It is our job to meet them halfway and accept that although we may be more emotionally driven, they are not and it is not their job to conform to our way of operating. I believe that it is the responsibility of both parties to take the time to understand how the other operates and take that into consideration when they’re interacting with one another.

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    • “I believe that it is the responsibility of both parties to take the time to understand how the other operates and take that into consideration when they’re interacting with one another.” I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for summarising it so elegantly.

      I have this vision of the workshop you mention, dissing the Extraverted Thinkers. Could be fun, in a therapeutic sense! As I was reading your comment, I found myself thinking it was written in the style of an Extraverted Thinker! Maybe you have mastered the art of flexibility!

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight.

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  5. Pingback: Explore – An illustrated ode to introverts by Grant Snider…. | skatterbOt

  6. Seshagiri Rao K says:

    Mr. Brown, you sure do not have to be defensive about the extroverts. Introverts and Extroverts are like a hand each. Unless the two hands come together, in unison, we will be able to clap. And we all know the amount of positive impact clapping has, on a performer.

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    • I love the metaphor, Seshagari. Clapping can only be done with two hands. I so agree. I am not trying to be defensive for the Extraverts, because to be honest they can more than defend for themselves! I was just trying to put things into perspective and say both hands have to move towards the middle! Thank you for your contribution.

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  7. Dave Loewy says:

    Great words Mike. “Light the blue touch-paper and stand well back, as the rocket fires off into the night sky, fizzing and cracking as it goes” is so very you. In his excellent book, “To Sell is Human”, Dan Pink reports the research by Prof Adam Grant of Wharton on what makes successful sales people. And the answer is surprising. It’s not the extraverts or the introverts. It’s what Pink terms the Ambiverts. The people who are neither too extreme and in your face nor too quiet and retiring. The Ambiverts outsell their extravert and and introvert peers by as much as 50%. So damp down that rocket, put down the 14lb sledgehammer and take time to point yourself away from the thatched roof. It will be good for your business!

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    • Love it, Dave. The Ambivert, sounding pretty much as if it’s someone ambidextrous, and (at risk of mixing analogies slightly here) we all know the best footballers are good with both feet. As ever, flexibility is the name of the game.

      Does Pink that the Ambiverts are good at being whichever they need to suit the situation, or that they are simply in the middle, and when you meet them you wouldn’t know which side of the line they are (in other words, neutral, I guess).

      I’ll add him to the reading list anyway!

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