Extroverts can sometimes relate

Although it seems extroverts and introverts struggle with getting along (see this article for some tips and detail), quite often both temperaments are flexible enough for the other. Especially when the conversation directly focuses on temperament. It seems these are the times we are most ready to learn.

Yesterday I led a seminar, Public Speaking for Introverts to a room full of a good mix of each. Since by seminar name the topic was clear, I was still eager to see the number of extroverts in attendance. We addressed 3 key “public speaking” activities – meeting participation, network event attendance and one-to-one follow up – that can create anxiety for introverts and I provided tips in how the introvert can use their strengths to rethink their public speaking power.

Prior to the discussion we did an exercise which allowed each individual to similtaneously present themselves to the rest of us as either introvert or extrovert so I had a way of seeing how to include each temperament in the seminar’s discussions. As it turned out, I was quite pleased that both introvert and extrovert were participating and engaged.

When asking the extroverts what they got out of the seminar I learned the line between the two temperaments can be fairly fuzzy.

First, many in the audience who knew each other in advance were stunned by some individuals self-identifying as introverts. These stunned audience members see the others as visible, vocal and willing to initiate conversation. Yet these same individuals claiming to be introverts shared their “learned” extrovert behaviors which they discovered were necessary for their ability to more effectively share their skills.

Second, the self-identified extroverts not only stayed more quiet in the discussion than I had expected. They also confessed to relating to the introvert’s need for downtime. As extroverts age, they require more distance and less physical exertion. At these times they begin to question themselves – is something wrong with them? Yet they are learning these are the times their introvert nature is taking care of them.

Third, the extroverts, like us introverts, encounter times that stump them. It is through these times – the concern over ability – moreso than the times of using introvert strengths (reflection, deep-thinking, time away from others, concern/compassion that drives deep thinking) that give them a sense of living the introvert life.

How do we manage the I/E nature within us? First, remember we all have each, for good reason. Neither is bad, neither is right. Both give us advantages.

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On December 16th, 2011, posted in: extroverts, introverts, public speaking by