Search This Blog


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Introverts & Extroverts - A Love Letter

This is a love letter from introverts everywhere to the extroverts in their lives. I say love letter because it's written with love, and the pure intention to help those around us understand who we are, and how we interact as introverts. This is not meant to be hurtful, only helpful. So open your mind and enjoy! 

First, let me explain introverts and extroverts the best way I know how, for anyone out there who might not know what these terms mean. 

Introverted people tend to be more shy and socially withdrawn. They think about everything, and sometimes they think about what to say for so long that they miss the opportunity to say it. They function much better in one-on-one situations than in a group setting.

Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive from being around lots of people, and from being the center of attention. They usually speak before thinking and they don't like to be by themselves for long.

The main difference between introverts and extroverts is where they get their energy from. I didn't come up with this theory. It's been around for a long time. But I've found it to be true in most cases. Extroverts get their energy from being in crowds of people, while introverts get their energy from alone time. It's not a downfall for either type of person, it's just how their batteries recharge.

It helps to think of extroverts as having an extremely wide peripheral vision, so to speak. They are wide open and can focus on many things, conversations and relationships simultaneously. And it helps to think of introverts as having tunnel vision. They are much more focused on one thing at a time, and one person at a time. When there is too much going on around them, or too many different things to devote their attention to, they can literally become physically drained.

I am an introvert. I used to think there was something wrong with me. Family, peers, and teachers all used to make me believe that I had to be loud and full of energy to function in this world. But when I discovered recently that this is just part of my personality, my eyes opened up. I now know I'm not the only one. I'm not alone. Since then, I've done a lot of research on the topic, and I've come up with what will hopefully be a helpful tool for extroverts to use on their journey to connecting with closed off and reserved introverts.

Please note that I am also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) so forgive me if some of the things I say lean more toward this spectrum of introversion. I'll try and stay away from it if I can. There will be a link at the end of this blog that explains HSP's more. In the mean time, I'll get back to it...

Unfortunately, introverts and extroverts often clash because of their different personalities. The only reason for this clash is that neither understands the other. I want to try and change that, if I can.

The following is not meant to be cruel or biased, and is only from an introvert's point of view because that is the side of the line I happen to fall on. 

If you are an extrovert living or working with an introvert, these tips to a successful conversation may come in handy:



 Judge us. 
Most people can tell when they are being judged. Most introverts are much more sensitive to it and can actually feel the insincerity from someone who's judging them. So the first thing you need to do is accept the fact that we are different (everyone is), and there's nothing wrong with that. This goes for introverts as well!

Ignore us.  
When we speak, it usually isn't very loud. We tend to be shy and withdrawn when we speak. I don't know why this is, but I'm assuming it varies based on the person. Personally, I have learned that I speak quietly because of the fact that I was an only child with a fairly quiet home environment growing up, and I never really learned to raise my voice. I never had the need to. Sure, I can yell if I get pissed off, but I would rather not get to that point. There are other factors that play into why I'm soft-spoken, but that is one of them. When we say something and are ignored, it tends to make us less likely to say anything else for a while, because what's the point? If you can't hear us, that's one thing, but don't just ignore us because you can't understand our quiet speech.

Interrupt us. 
When we do finally build up the courage to speak, all that effort tends to go out the window if we get interrupted. Most times it might just be that you didn't hear us, but still, being interrupted feels like a slap in the face to most introverts, and then we end up back at square one, having to build up the courage to speak again, which will probably take even longer the second time around. 

Ask us to repeat ourselves. 
This is a tricky one because the previous two tips contradict it. If you realize that you've been ignoring us, of course the polite thing is to ask us what we said. Asking us once is great, but repetitive asking is extremely frustrating for many of us. In my case, I've found that my limit is two or three times of repeating myself before I just give up and say "never mind, it's not important." So once you ask for a repeat the first time, that's when the whole not interrupting thing comes into play ;)



  Start the conversation. 
 Extroverts love to talk, so why not do it? It will be much easier for you than it will be for us introverts, and it might even break the ice and start a great conversation. That's not to say we'll never be comfortable enough around you to start conversations - I for one am much more outgoing with people I know extremely well - but it takes a long time for that to happen. So, at least in the beginning, it's up to the extrovert to get the ball rolling. We're not lazy, and we're not trying to be rude, we're just quiet.

Ask us questions. 
As the extrovert, it is your job to draw us out of our shells by not only starting conversations, but by asking us questions. So if you feel a relationship with an introvert is worth the time and effort, work on it. Engage us. Even if it may not seem like it, most of us love it. And who knows where it might lead!

Give us time to respond. 
Introverts think about every little thing before they say it. Most of the time, this is why we don't have much to contribute to a conversation - because by the time we've thought it through enough to say it, the subject has changed. This is especially common in a group conversation. So be patient with us, and understand that we're not slow, and we're not trying to be rude; we're just contemplative. Most introverts have a million things running through their heads at once, and it can take much longer to sort it all out. 

Avoid small talk. 
 I don't know about other introverts, but I personally HATE small talk. If the conversation isn't productive, I get bored. If the subject matter isn't deep, I get exhausted. I'm guessing all introverts are like this. We like to get straight to the point, which is one reason we prefer one on one conversations. This is one of many reasons we try to avoid social events and large groups. Too much small talk. But again, I'm just speaking for myself... I think. ;)

None of us should let differences in personality get in the way of our relationships with each other. Some of the best friends and loved ones I've ever known were extroverts. This is because we found the balance between the two extremes. I listened while they talked, allowing them to shine and be the star of the show, and they talked to me, coaxing me out of my shell patiently and respectfully. 

I've always compared introverts and extroverts to the moon and the sun, or shadows and light. You can't have one without the other, and when executed correctly, a relationship between an introvert and an extrovert can be a beautiful thing. I truly believe that introverts and extroverts are MEANT to be the way they are so that they can bring out the BEST in each other, not the worst. We are meant to connect, we just do it differently. 

I hope this helps any extroverts out there connect with the introverts in their lives. Just remember, a little patience and understanding can go a long way.

And, last but not least, be kind to each other. :)


Here's a great little quiz to help you find out if you're an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between:

If you want to go even deeper, here's a great personality test that has helped my family and me understand each other:

And if you're an introvert who is more sensitive than others to certain things (like I am), you can take this HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) test:


I leave you with some screenshots of things introverts say (including myself) from Twitter:


 "Writing is my salvation. 
It allows me to express myself on a level that I can't verbally. 
It allows me to be heard. Finally, and completely."

(yours truly, on being an introverted writer)



  1. Kylie,
    I enjoyed reading this blog post very much. You did a wonderful job of researching and writing about the subject. Thank you for including one of my favorite quotes. Good luck with your novel.

    1. Thanks so much Dallas! & thanks for letting me use your quote. :)