Social Question

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

What does it take to get extroverts to really understand introverts?

Asked by ARE_you_kidding_me (15604points) June 14th, 2014

I have always found it frustrating to get certain individuals to give me the space I need. When I explain that I just need some “me” time to recharge and refresh they look at me like I’m from a different planet. When extroverts do try to rationalize introverted behavior they always seem to think that there is something wrong with us. They’ll commonly think it’s “social anxiety” or something like that. We know it’s not but how do you get them to understand this? What has worked for you? Has anything helped?

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21 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Double edged sword I think. I’m an extrovert but cherish my alone time and don’t want to be on all the time at all. My only complaint about many introverts is that they tend towards being passive aggressive and conflict/communication avoidant Take all the time and space you need but don’t refuse to communicate at all. haha

Nothing worse for an extrovert than trying to discuss something with an introvert and hitting the wall of silence.

Seek's avatar

They either get it or they don’t. Took my husband a long time to “get it”. Now when he has a million people over (ok, 2 or 3), I can kind of pull him aside and let him know I’m going into my cave for a while, and he covers for me. Most of his friends are less extroverted than he is and they are OK with a tactful retreat. The ones that aren’t, he usually claims I get migraines.

canidmajor's avatar

From another angle, what does it take to get some people to really stop pigeonholing other people? The people who look at you like “you’re from another planet” when you want to refresh and recharge may find your timing inappropriate, or maybe you’re imagining it. I don’t know anyone, whether introverted or extroverted that doesn’t need some time to be alone and recharge from time to time. There is a trend on the internet these days to pity the sensitive introverts and vilify the bullying extroverts. We’re all living in the same society, the extroverts don’t really have it any easier than the introverts, we all have to make adjustments.

Any person who demands certain behaviors from another without due cause is a jerk, whether it’s an extrovert wanting someone to be more outgoing or an introvert wanting someone to dial it down.

Coloma's avatar

@canidmajor Agreed 100%.
It is in the understanding of the individual, however, we are all going to be more compatible with some over others. Live and let live unless you’re really trampling boundaries. The focus should be on knowing how to comport oneself to have healthy relationships.

ragingloli's avatar

Invent a drug that makes them experience the crushing and crippling fear of rejection and failure when asked to talk to people.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s not really fear though, it’s all the nonsense and small talk that extroverts seem to feed on that drain us. It’s the time taken up with useless social engagements that accomplish nothing and rob us of the time and energy better used doing other more refreshing things. I have no problem with meaningful social gatherings especially if activity is involved. I just cannot to the “sit and talk about nothing for no good reason” thing for hours on end. I’m good for a ½ hour tops.

Coloma's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me I hate small talk, and I’m an extrovert.
I’m a lets talk about ideas, concepts, interesting news, new things, movies, weird science, anything except boring details of life like the weather and what you’re making for dinner.
I have an introvert friend that is all about mundane crap….every conversation is a rote recital of her daily stuff. I have never known anyone that could write an epic freaking novel about mowing the lawn and going to the grocery store. Drives me nuts. Depends on the extrovert and overall personality type.

Unbroken's avatar

Most of my extrovert friends accept my behavior. Really is it them or is it your perception of them?

I fully understand the active versus inactive socialization. I last longer if we are engaged in an activity bonus if your comfortable and natural to just sit and relax as you float down the river idly paddling etc.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Our dept. was experiencing a similar challenge. As a team we went through several self-assessments over the years (FIRO-B, Meyers-Briggs, Strengths-Finder, just to name a few). The results were debriefed individually by a professional. Then a team meeting was held with exercises that taught us the values of our co-workers’ personalities. It was enlightening.

There was one co-worker that I met with every week. Initially, the meetings were painful. Once we went through some of these exercises, we learned to compromise. The first five minutes, she was allowed to chat about anything that she wanted. After that, we got down to business. It worked well after we started this.

Another example: When I was supervising 11 team members that were constantly on the road, I learned to find out what their communication style was. One wanted to talk to me every day, even if it was just to leave a voice-mail. Another only wanted to communicate via e-mail. A third wanted to be left alone. It made me nervous, but I learned that as long as his daily reports were submitted and we touched base once a quarter, it worked for us.

JLeslie's avatar

The extroverts who do not understand are being selfish. They have such a strong need for contact that they want you to change to feed their own difficulty with being alone.

I do think there is a big difference between introverts and people who do have social anxieties, but sometimes they overlap, so possible some people don’t understand that those two things can be mutually exclusive. I don’t know if you can do anything more but to explain you are not anxious about being with people, you just need more alone time than the average person.

Berserker's avatar

Introverts may feel intimidated or or overwhelmed by extroverts, but we should probably remember that for them, it’s a lot of the same. I know an extroverted girl who just doesn’t know how to act or what to say to introverts, because she feels uneasy around them, and she says they seem to dislike her.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s not that they are being selfish or intimidated as much as just not understanding this desire. In all cases, we are so hard-wired that is often difficult to understand why people do not want what we want.

What people often have a hard time grasping is that there are varying degrees. There are co-workers who I would have pegged for an introvert or extrovert, only to find out that I was wrong. They learned, as did I, to adapt in order to get the work done.

It goes beyond Introversion and Extroversion. There are numerous layers of our personalities that combine to create who we are. Social anxieties is a separate layer and isn’t limited to introverts.

Coloma's avatar

Well….as an extrovert with an introvert side, I can say though, nothing is more awkward than trying to break the ice with someone that just won’t respond back, at all, short of a feeble smile.
It’s one thing to be an introvert but entirely another to be a complete mute that can’t manage even the simplest socially engaging moments.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Coloma, most, if not all of us, feel the same way. That just isn’t a sign of an introvert, no matter how extreme. What if the person was offended by what you said? What if there is something else on their mind?

One of my supervisors was very introverted. It used to drive me crazy when I would go to him with information or an idea, and he would just sit there with “The Stare”. I felt like an idiot. Then he would respond positively and interact. I learned to give him the amount of time he needed to process the information. We ended up making a great team.

Sayd_Whater's avatar

To interpret and understand each and any of ours individual behaviors requires patience, but more importantly, time. To save us time, I would definitely recommend just to be honest about it, openly, saying in a common language that you’re leaving for whatever reason (like you’re tired/ or that you need to be alone and recharge, from time to time) it’s much more polite than just disappear. Disappearing or shutting off communication will cause worrying about nothing and I also consider it to be a bit rude and ambiguous as it could also be interpreted the wrong way, or the even the exact opposite, like it’s some kind of twisted crying out for help.
Also, somehow reassuring everyone that everything is alright and a friendly goodbye, will prevent people from wondering if something was wrong.

Coloma's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I agree and can admit, having a very fast mind and a very quick and accurate response time I can become impatient. I try to watch this, goes with the territory of a lot of extroverts with super fast brains. haha

Blackberry's avatar

I guess I’m a more outgoing introvert, because I can always go home alone if I need, but I like talking to people. The main issue is knowing what to ask people. I don’t know what to ask without feeling like I’m prying.

I can tell when people talk to me, they’re quite obviously trying to get me to talk. They have to pull answers out of me, but once I get going I’m fine. It’s just starting conversation that is really difficult for me.


canidmajor's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: “It’s not really fear though, it’s all the nonsense and small talk that extroverts seem to feed on that drain us. It’s the time taken up with useless social engagements that accomplish nothing and rob us of the time and energy better used doing other more refreshing things.” This is so very stereotyped a view of “extroverts” that it makes me wince. As @Pied_Pfeffer says, there are varying degrees of extrovertism and introvertism. I think your situation may be less about getting the extroverts to really understand you than it is about you learning to not paint all extroverts with the same brush.

Perhaps work on your own communication techniques to learn to ask effectively for what you need. We are each responsible for how we deal with our own situations.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@canidmajor I realize that this is the classic description of extroverts but you do encounter them very frequently. I also realize that there is a spectrum and we all fit on it somewhere. I have no problems with communication or even being social. I’m actually quite good at it. The problem is that it is exhausting and there are times where I simply need to recharge. My question not directed at beating up extroverts but more how can we as introverts get them to understand that we need to recharge in such a way without either looking like we are rude or that there is something wrong with us like we “lack communication skills” for example.

canidmajor's avatar

I still hear you presenting this as an “us vs. them” scenario. If I can’t seem to get a number of people to understand what I mean, because I am a bit different (whether it’s about culture, gender, age, whatever) then, no matter how adept I perceive myself to be with communication skills, I realize I have to take responsibility for making myself be understood. I don’t think that introverts in general “lack communication skills”, I think that you yourself may be misreading things by not trying to make your needs known to actual individuals, but to a “type” that you perceive “them” to be.

Unless you work with or hang around with complete idiots, simply mentioning that you are going to do something else for x amount of time should be sufficient. If you need to mention that you are “exhausted” by interaction, or even that you need to recharge (which suggests energy depletion) the people to whom you express this may feel the need to either try to sympathize, or feel they are responsible somehow. Simply arranging to take the time isn’t rude, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

By the way, that is not at all a “classic description of extroverts”, it’s a very modern one. Not so long ago, that was a classic description of shallow socialites.

DaphneT's avatar

If they are a real friend they’ll get it, otherwise don’t discuss, just do what you need to do. Don’t rationalize, don’t apologize, don’t share more than socially polite: “Please excuse me, I have run out of time, and must go on to my next event.” That next event is not their business.

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