Introverts and Extraverts

Recently Sharon and I (Jacolien) have noticed there has been a steady flow of blogs addressing the challenges that introverts face in our society which is so dominated by extroversion. We are both extraverts and as such we've been reflecting (well talking actually), about how both types can value and get the best out of each other. There is always a tendency to be defensive about our differences but we want to take a type affirming perspective.

So in this blog we would like to focus on some of the differing strengths extroverts and introverts can share with each other. This is because we believe that for any relationship or endeavour to flourish we need to harness our differences to truly release their power.

So what does it mean to be an extravert or introvert? Extraverted people are stimulated by their external environment and usually process their ideas by talking about them. Introverted people are energised by spending time in their internal world of thoughts, memories and imaginations. They tend to prefer to process their ideas by reflecting thoughtfully.

I, Sharon, share an office with up to 10 other people and enjoy the variety and differences I encounter there. Sitting behind me I have a colleague who talks to herself constantly as she writes lists whilst across the office I have another one who manages to be focused on her monitor and work silently for long periods of time even when all kinds of conversations are going on around her. Because I am an extrovert I love the bustle in the room but often need to wear headphones so I can focus without distraction. We are all different and that is how it is meant to be!

What is it that we celebrate about introverts?

I, Jacolien, am married to Mark who is an Introvert. One of the things I so appreciate about him is, the laid back peaceful atmosphere he creates in our home. When he takes time out to talk together, he is really good at focusing and asking insightful and helpful questions. He doesn't have to rush to share his opinion but can listen carefully.

This is an Introvert strength. They rarely feel a pressing need to express their conclusions before carefully listening to others which can make them wise listeners.

It is also my (Sharon's) general observation that introverts can give measured feedback. I will often seek out an Introverted friend to help me process a decision, confident that they will give me the space to come to a decision without pressure. They provide thoughtful responses. I have learned the value of waiting for them to share their insights which are often the distillation of much thoughtful observation.

What do we sense as extraverts, we can contribute?

We can connect people. It's easy for an extravert to meet new people and to introduce them to others who might share their interests or goals. Extraverts put a high value on the interchange ofideas and can often create a platform for Introverts so that their contribution can shared.

They often initiate putting ideas into action. Extroverts can bring, lightheartedness and energy into group situations and they are often willing to take the first step in sharing ideas to ”get the ball rolling”.

We both are Myers Briggs practitioners which means that we focus on helping people to discover more about their personality, their strengths and how to develop them. But this is not the end game. We are passionate about people of all different personality types growing and creating relationships and communities where they can thrive together.

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you think if you are an extravert of an introvert? What can you celebrate about  that?
  • Who do know who is your opposite? How can you appreciate what they bring?