Are you an “innie or an outie?” And I’m not talking about belly buttons. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Before you answer you should know that there are many common misconceptions about these terms. The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung developed extensive research on this subject. In fact, Jung actually used the term “extravert” instead of “extrovert.” Over the years the word seemed to have morphed into the “extrovert” terminology we use today. So, when you hear these words, what do you think? An introvert is shy and an extrovert is outgoing? As with many things, this is an oversimplification. Think about how we recharge our batteries. Do you find that you gain renewed energy from being alone in solitude or by being around other people? Technically, introverts seek renewal alone and extroverts recharge through interaction with others. But enough with the technicalities. Let’s explore introversion and extroversion in the more traditional sense.
How can introverts and extroverts survive and thrive with each other? How can an introvert succeed when many situations call for a high degree of sociability and gregariousness? And how do extroverts avoid coming across as a bull in a china shop in situations that need reflection and finesse?
I know a person who has a position that requires considerable interaction with others in a public setting. This individual makes outstanding presentations to large groups of people but struggles mightily with one-on-one interaction. I and others question his genuineness and authenticity as a result of this challenge with his personality. People see him as a masterful “performer” on stage but are frustrated because the “act” doesn’t translate into personal charisma.
For those of us who might find it challenging to engage easily with others, here are some ideas. Step into it. Play offense instead of defense. We can put ourselves in situations where we have the opportunity for interaction. Maybe it’s at a conference or a gathering of some sort. We find someone who isn’t already talking to others and go introduce ourselves. Be strong. The handshake is firm and we make friendly eye contact. The person I mentioned in the preceding paragraph has a tendency to either avoid eye contact or look over my shoulder. Smile. Always smile. It helps us to put ourselves and others at ease. Relax. Don’t try too hard. We just need to be who we are – not someone else. And yes, we can be strong and relaxed at the same time. This actually projects confidence.
On the other end of the spectrum some of us may be somewhat supercharged with extroversion. In certain situations this can be overwhelming to others and can come across in a high pressure salesman manner. Of course we don’t want to be perceived this way. Many extroverts have a great deal of nervous energy and perhaps even a touch (or mega dose) of ADHD. This reflects in their speech patterns and mannerisms.
As extroverts we need to work to “dial it back” at times. Zip it. We may have a tendency to dominate conversations. Instead, we need to make a concerted effort to create a dialogue where we make sure that others have a chance to express themselves. Chill. Somehow we have to resist the urge to outwardly manifest all of the energy that is pent-up inside. Calm. We need to replace the pent-up energy with calmness. Don’t worry; our charisma is so strong that we won’t be seen as a shrinking violet. Smile. A friendly smile is disarming and sends positive vibes to others. As extroverts we may have a tendency to be too intense. Remembering to always smile will put others at ease.
Introverts and extroverts must make a mutual effort to co-exist and collaborate. When they succeed, they can do great things together.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.