How to care for introverts

This graphic is doing the rounds on the Internet at the moment:

I couldn’t find the extrovert version, which made me wonder whether we think extroverts don’t need as much care as their introvert counterparts. I did, however, find this list from The Daily Huff:

How to care for extroverts:

1. Respect their need to share, to ‘talk it out.’ They get their energy from other people.
2. Just as with introverts, never embarrass them in public. If you do embarrass them in public, go along as much as is reasonable if they play it off like a joke.

3. Don’t be surprised if they dive into a new situation headfirst. Don’t freak out either if they flounder a little. They’ll find their way.

4. Extroverts blurt. It’s the nature of the beast. Most try to leaven it with charm, but try to be patient when they don’t.

5. Expect interruptions that may seem rude, to some. Most of the time, they mean well.

6. Build surprise into your lives together. Most extroverts love the thrill of not knowing what’s up – as long as it’s positive.

7. Be prepared for what looks like ADD. The organically outgoing among us feed off the environment around them. They are often the best multi-taskers around, so understand that they are often paying much more attention to you than you think they are.

8. A flashover temper goes with the extroverted personality. The bad thing is it can look like a much more severe storm than it is. The good thing is it’s over quickly.

9. Many extroverts live for the intuitive leap. They reach for it. If teaching an extrovert something new, have patience with them jumping ahead of you.

10. They will always have lots of friends. But most extroverts have a core of best friends, and their loyalty can be fierce and aggressive if they feel the need to defend those friends. As with so many aspects of the extroverted personality, you may have to be patient with this.

11. They love compliments, but can usually see right through insincere flattery. Well-timed encouragement, though, can help an extrovert soar.

12. Sometimes, it’s okay to just go along with the “show.” Consider it free entertainment.

13. Respect their extroversion. Don’t try to pin them to your board or cage them. And do them a favor, if you are not yourself outgoing, extroverted – gently but persistently remind them to read the above graphic as often as possible. They probably will need the reminders.

As helpful as they are, lists like these are too black-and-white about personality types. Rather than placing people in the introvert or extrovert box, I think it’s more helpful to imagine people on a sliding scale. Everyone has some extrovert and introvert tendencies, even if you tend towards one camp. I grew up as a pretty extreme introvert, but these days I tend to sit more towards the middle. If I were to put a numerical value on it, I’d probably say I’m about 35% extrovert, 65% introvert. While often I like nothing better than to be left alone in the couch with a book, I also go a bit stir crazy if a whole day goes by without social interaction. I can relate to points 5-7 on the Introverts graphic, but 1 and 3 don’t apply to me (and what’s the deal with 2? I don’t think anyone likes being embarrassed in public!). On the Extrovert side, I can also relate to points 9-11. Yes, I do love a good compliment.

Personalities are also fluid. I hate the idea that people are boxed in; confined to playing the introvert or extrovert. Life experiences can dictate whether people display traits from one camp or another. When I had a media job that sometimes required me to play the extrovert, I learned to develop ways of relating I never knew were in me. With my husband’s job as a minister, I’ve been challenged to take more initiative with new people (arguably an extrovert trait) and found that it isn’t so difficult as I’ve previously thought. I’ve also appreciated the opportunities to wear my introvert qualities like a cosy blanket: qualities like listening intently, pausing and thinking before giving opinions, giving others space to shine in conversations.

Understanding your personality type is one thing; challenging yourself now and then to express parts of you that aren’t second nature is even better.

Do you express more introvert or extrovert tendencies? Do any of the points in the above graphic apply to you?

Be Sociable, Share!

10 Thoughts on “How to care for introverts

  1. Jess Joseph on April 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm said:

    I like this post.

    I’m similar to you, Soph, maybe 60% introvert & 40% extrovert. I relate to 2-4 & 6-7 of the Introvert graphic & (interestingly) hardly any in the Extrovert one. A lot of people find it hard to distinguish which one I am. The sliding scale is helpful.

    I’ve also learnt to be adaptable when it comes to giving up some my personal time & space for others. The Christian church family pushes me out of my comfort zone to reach out to those I don’t normally associate with. I don’t think it takes an extrovert to provide hospitality & open our homes to people, just a willingness to love and care for others.

  2. I think of myself as an outgoing introvert. I love being around people, but ultimately, I need to be by myself and in my own space to recharge…
    Ronnie xo

  3. I am definitely and introvert maybe 80-90% and 10-20% extrovert. I think that with number two on the graphic is that introverts (well me personally) tend to internalise things like embarassments and then dwell on them and it makes me/them less likely to want to get out and do things for fear of more embarassments. Where as with extroverts their brushing off with jokes means that they don’t take it to heart so much and definitely don’t let it confine them.

  4. http://pinterest.com/pin/169236898467408140/

    I found a similar extrovert picture/diagram on pinterest today. :)
    I enjoyed this post very much.

  5. I’m more extroverted than introverted but I still identified plenty of the points on the infographic.

    One of the things I find difficult about memes like this is that they can be used kind of passive-aggressively. I saw this one posted by an introvert friend, with a note about the points she wanted other to know..

  6. “I think that with number two on the graphic is that introverts (well me personally) tend to internalise things like embarassments and then dwell on them and it makes me/them less likely to want to get out and do things for fear of more embarassments. Where as with extroverts their brushing off with jokes means that they don’t take it to heart so much and definitely don’t let it confine them.”

    Is that true, though?

    I wonder whether this point is a bit unfair on extroverts. No doubt getting your energy from other people will mean that you’re more able to cope with being the center of attention, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. However, it’s easy to assume that just because outgoing people can handle the attention, they can easily brush things off and nothing hurts them.

  7. I think handling of criticism can go either way. My husband’s heaps more introverted than I am and also much less likely to care about criticism. Partly that’s because of his introversion – his inner world is so compelling he’s much less likely to care about what people think whereas for me, the outer world, including others’ opinions, is far more powerful so I spend heaps more time worrying about it! People are complex; extroversion and introversion are complex!

  8. “I think that with number two on the graphic is that introverts (well me personally) tend to internalise things like embarassments and then dwell on them and it makes me/them less likely to want to get out and do things for fear of more embarassments. Where as with extroverts their brushing off with jokes means that they don’t take it to heart so much and definitely don’t let it confine them.”

    Is that true, though?

    I wonder whether this point is a bit unfair on extroverts. No doubt getting your energy from other people will mean that you’re more able to cope with being the center of attention, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. However, it’s easy to assume that just because outgoing people can handle the attention, they can easily brush things off and nothing hurts them.”

    I don’t know but I know that I seem to get more embarrassed about things than others especially extroverts. But maybe that’s my insecurities which then combine with my introversion to make things worse.

    The other thing I wanted to say was that I found this ther other day something else to consider http://simplyaware.blogspot.com.au/2012_01_01_archive.html.

  9. Mattnbec on April 8, 2012 at 3:12 am said:

    If I may reply to the comment “I think that with number two on the graphic is that introverts (well me personally) tend to internalise things like embarassments and then dwell on them and it makes me/them less likely to want to get out and do things for fear of more embarassments. Where as with extroverts their brushing off with jokes means that they don’t take it to heart so much and definitely don’t let it confine them.”…

    I’m mostly an extrovert, married to a mostly-introverted man. I am far more likely to internalise things than him. I can be a bit of a perfectionist too. So if I don’t think I’m good at something, I just avoid doing it because it’s too embarrassing.

    Extroverts might brush things off, but it’s not always because they don’t mind making a fool of themselves. Sometimes it’s to save face because they really, really care what people think. It can be a different way of coping with the embarrassment, not necessarily a “water off a duck’s back” kind of situation. Extroverts can be very, very insecure too. It’s just that they deal with it differently – by seeking people out to reassure them and patch them up, or by being bubbly and hoping the other person will move on from the embarrassing thing.

    I think the key thing to understand is that introverts and extroverts have different responses even though the feelings may be identical. I suspect we need to be careful not to read our own personality type back into the behaviours of the other side.

  10. I agree with 5 and 7 of the introvert. I am probably 90 % introvert and 10 % ADD – extrovert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Post Navigation