I’ve been (re)reading a variety of blog posts and articles recently about how introverts and extroverts interact with one another. Some sites made lists of things extroverts should know about introverts or talked about how to best relate to a spouse, family member or workmate who was at the opposite end of the spectrum from your personality.
On one level this type of conversation makes sense. It can be difficult to effectively communicate with someone whose natural state of being is so different from your own. I’ve had my share of misunderstandings as a deep introvert with people who think I need to be brought out of my shell or that being quiet means there’s something wrong.
Many of these misunderstandings could be avoided with clear communication and good interpersonal boundaries, though. If I say that I or something else is X I mean it (let X stand for almost any adjective or adverb that would make sense in that sentence.) Unless proven otherwise I also assume that what others say honestly reflects their thoughts on the matter.
It is easy to create and sustain conflicts when people aren’t honest about where they’re coming from or what they want. It isn’t always easy to be honest about these things to tell the truth. The fear of the unknown can affect what we say or how we say it. Not everyone is going to understand where you’re coming from or why you do the things that you do. What makes sense to me may not seem as clear-cut to you.
There’s a simple explanation behind why this is so: you’re not everyone. That is, what you or I prefer, believe or find useful isn’t always going to be the same thing that other people prefer, believe or find useful. It’s easy to make this leap and while it at times can be helpful to do we’ve grown so accustomed to creating a tug-of-war out of our differences or the labels that fit us that they’re given too much power over our lives.
I’m tired of that. Instead let us:
- Assume the best.
- Ask questions.
- Speak out about our experiences.
- Listen to those who have drawn other conclusions.
- Respect boundaries.
- Think “we” instead of “us” and “them.”
Are you with me? 🙂
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