Get Along with Introverts
Extraverts tend to be exuberant and enthusiastic and sometimes
feel like a bull - or at least a calf - in a China shop around
introverts. "Must we always restrain ourselves in order
to not offend?" they might ask. We all want to feel free
to be ourselves, but relationships run more smoothly when
we're aware of one another's needs and sensitivities. The
following suggestions are intended for both introverts and
extraverts, for when two introverts are in a relationship,
one tends to take a more introverted and one a more extraverted
Ask if now is a good time to talk instead of taking
it for granted introverts want to have a conversation.
Unless you ask some clarifying questions, you often can't
tell whether introverts are worried about something, involved
in their own thoughts, or want to be left alone.
Treat introverts gently - loud or dramatic expressions of
emotion may frighten them. Your point of view will come
across better through gentle persistence than if you come
on strongly or put them on the spot.
Think of creative solutions if pacing is a problem:
used to call introverted Bob "passive aggressive"
for keeping me waiting so long for a response while
he looked around and ruminated about what he was thinking
as if I wasn't there. But I realized he wasn't trying
to "get" me, so I would have him follow me
into whatever activity I was doing while he considered
and finally came out with a response. That worked well
for both of us. - Elaine Chernoff, an extravert.
introverted friends' and family members' wishes if they
prefer to be alone in times of stress or sadness: In
a culture in which interpersonal relationships are generally
considered to provide the answer to every form of distress,
it is sometimes difficult to persuade well-meaning helpers
that solitude can be as therapeutic as emotional support.
- Anthony Storr.
introverts opt for privacy, remember this goes along with
their inborn nature and is not necessarily a rejection of
company, two's a crowd."
Anthony Hopkins, an introverted actor, likes to socialize
occasionally, but feels his main non-acting activities (playing
the piano, composing music, and taking road trips) would
be less pleasurable with other people along.
"Most of the time," he told an interviewer, "I
- Oscar Levant in the movie, "An American in Paris."
If you feel let down because your introvert isn’t
expressive enough, pay more attention to the words than
their delivery. Extraverted Elaine multiplies her introverted
partner's expressed emotions by ten; he divides hers by
for nonverbal signs of affection. Introverts are sometimes
more comfortable expressing their feelings in writing or
by their actions than through speaking.
If your introverted friends or relatives go off to watch
from the sidelines alone, don't assume they're unhappy:
extraverts belong to a club where we share the belief
that interacting is always wonderful and fun. I'm sorry
that introverts don't get to be part of this club.
- Nancy Kesselring.
Invite introverts to join in, but do not push them.
leader of the meeting looked at the silent member and
said, "you are quiet, but I think you have something
to say." This introvert wouldn't have broken into
the meeting to speak, for it would have seemed a disservice
to her ideas to shout them out above the noise of the
others. But since she was invited, she spoke - quietly
and with great wisdom. -
Question the adjectives and definitions you use for introverts:
instead of "passive," perhaps they're “shy
and gentle.” Instead of "anti-social," perhaps
“their main interests do not always involve other
people.” Instead of "self-centered or narcissistic,"
perhaps they have “satisfying inner lives.”
Let introverts know you appreciate them for being their
What makes a man interesting to me is when he's free.
When he does not feel the need to look a certain way,
to behave a certain way. When he's himself. Always. When
he doesn't want to please everyone. - Michele Laroque,
In order to accept one another more easily, remember that
neurological differences underlay introvert/extravert conflicts.
Introverts have naturally busy minds, sometimes referred
to as "inner wakefulness," and are easily overwhelmed
by sensory stimuli. Extraverts become unpleasantly restless
with too little stimulation, so they often seek action.
Since our culture seems to be celebrating extraversion much
of the time, extol the virtues of introversion as well:Extraverts
like to do things together. The experiences themselves usually
count more than pondering about them.
Nancy believes every occasion can be improved upon by
adding more people. Her husband and son are both introverts,
however. She might have labeled them as simply wrong,
she told me, had she not understood type differences.
Instead, she learned to respect their temperaments and
they hers. Even though they are not crazy about social
activities themselves, they support her when she wants
to invite friends over or throw a party.
Extraverts are easier to "read" than introverts.
Introverts aren't necessarily trying to keep a secret -
disclosing their thoughts or feelings often just doesn't
occur to them.
type” extraverts can do with few complements, but
“feeling types” put effort into relating to
others and depend on getting attention back.
If you are an extravert who feels you put out more than
your share of energy, it helps to remember that introverts
can also accomplish a lot, but their accomplishments will
likely be of a different nature.
Introverted Michael appreciates his extraverted wife's openness
with people. When they met, he was fearful of social situations
and Barbara was his entry into conversations. Little by
little, he learned from her to join in on his own. She learned
from his example to pay more attention to her quiet side.
Introverted Gregory becomes frustrated at his extraverted
friends' slowness when it comes to internal processing,
such as grasping metaphors and meanings in movies. He claims
that people find him “abysmally slow and frustrating”,
however, when it comes to external processes such as preparing
schedules, getting packed, decorating, and so on.
When Dixie wanted to have an exchange student live with
her family, her husband and children, all introverts, made
it clear that they would be miserable with a stranger in
the house. In order to satisfy her desire for more people
in her life, she became more involved in community activities............