Tag Archives: Introversion

Beyond Us and Them

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? ๐Ÿ™‚

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What the Quiet People Are Thinking

Talkative folks, have you ever wondered what the quiet people in your social group are thinking?ย I can’t climb inside the minds of your friends but I can tell you what I’m thinking about at social gatherings as someone who is quiet in real life.

Sometimes I have nothing to say. This isn’t a negative thing. My mind simply doesn’t always have things to add to the conversation so I soak up what everyone else is discussing instead. I’m lucky to have a few friends who areย amazing story-tellers in person or online and I could sit and listen to them (or read their sites) for hours without once uttering a peep.

I’m watching everyone’s body language. How you say something is much more important than what you’re actually saying. One can learn a lot about someone by how they move, sit and interact with everyone else.

Loquacious friends are awesome. I have friends who can talk a mile a minute and I love that about them. Every so often one of them will ask if their boisterous ways overwhelm me. Normally they don’t. If I hang out with someone it’s because we click. It is also riveting to hang out with people on the opposite side of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. We see the world in radically different ways and as cliched as this is going to sound there is definitely something to be said for embracing this and learning from one another.

I don’t have an opinion yet. If everyone is discussing, say, their favourite variety of sea cucumber or various theological interpretations of a particular bible verse I’m probably not going to jump into the middle of the debate.

You learn about others by listening to their stories. There’s nothing wrong with talking, of course, but if I want to get to know a new friend better it is best done by listening to what they say, how they say it and what they leave unsaid.

Rarely I’m quiet because someone has just put his or her foot in their mouth. I know that I’ve cringed over something I said that came out entirely wrong more than once. What was meant to be a lighthearted observation sometimes falls flat. Or maybe it was a question that was taken in entirely the wrong manner. Either way, I’d prefer that others ignore the dumb stuff that slips out of my mouth every so often so I do the same thing for them.

Finally silence isn’t a conversational cockroach. It doesn’t need to be exterminated. In fact, it can add to the conversation more than additional words if what would have been said is inane or repetitive. I’d rather my words mean something than talk just for the sake of exercising my larynx. ๐Ÿ™‚


Fellow quiet people, have I missed anything? Do you disagree with any of my points?

Talkative people, what is your first reaction to a quiet friend at a social gathering? Did anything you read today surprise you?

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