After seeing articles like “Move Over Extroverts, Here Come the Ambiverts” and “Hire the Quiet Neurotic, Not the Impressive Extrovert” this week, some thoughts occurred to me about the associations that are being made about extroverts.

Do I wish to champion the cause of introverts? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be so reverent of the work that Susan Cain has done, or devote my time to writing my own book on the subject, if I didn’t think that their nature didn’t need to be highlighted. However, I think the understanding of the introvert shouldn’t need to be paired with the demonization of the extrovert. To crack a joke often used in other circles, “Some of my best friends are extroverts!”

So know that even though we are different, and even though we may have a hard time understanding each other, I want to sing the praises of the extroverted. I salute you. Here are a few reasons why:

Extroverts are includers. So many horror stories around introversion are centered around a more extroverted individual trying to get him to do something they’re not always comfortable with. Examples include going to parties where he may not know someone, pulling her out on a dance floor, or encouraging them to stay the extra hour at a networking event when she’s already tired.

However, think about what that really means. It’s not the sordid plot of someone trying to pry a friend from his or her comfort zone. Rather, it’s a natural tendency to want to create connections between people. Those energized by outward stimulation like to gather their friends and family around them, and to be pushed into a raucous situation means they appreciate and want your company. So feel uncomfortable if you must, but also feel loved!

Extroverts prompt action. I can’t speak for all introverts, but I will say that decision making and determining a course of action takes me a long time. As a result of that, new initiatives or changes to old ones are hard for me to make. Not because I can’t make the change, but I’m insistent upon having all the details in place before I get them executed.

The beauty of extroverts in a world that moves as quickly as ours is that they move at a similar speed. They can make a decision and commit to all it involves fairly quickly. And that sort of quick decisiveness is something I really value in my more extroverted counterparts.

Extroverts Can Be Quiet Too! When I stopped by my director’s office yesterday, he happened to be talking about introversion and extroversion with a pair of our students. He asked me to guess if one of them was introverted and extroverted (sometimes it gets to be like a party trick, as he is an extrovert and doesn’t fully understand the nuances of either type), and I ended up being correct. The other student in the office mentioned that he was extroverted, but was also quiet.

I appreciated him for saying this, because we sometimes forget. Just like not all introverts are not shy or quiet, not all extroverts are loud and rambunctious. Introversion and extroversion live on opposite sides of a spectrum, not opposing sides of a coin. There is grey all over the place, and we all live in it.

So even as I continue to champion the cause of introverts, I still have kind words for my extroverted friends. Don’t let Forbes Magazine bring you down…your skills and tendencies are still valued 🙂

6 thoughts on “In Praise of the Extrovert

  1. Definitely agree. I’m a strong introvert and I read “Quiet” but I felt that they were villainizing extroverts more than I was comfortable with. I’m all for staying true to your nature, but it shouldn’t come at the exclusion of extroverts.

    Great post.

  2. Thank you Amma! Of course I’m loving the praise, but, much more importantly, I appreciate framing the discussion of preferences deemed opposites around strengths and not competition. As I’ve continued to repeat until I’m almost hoarse (being an external processor and all), there are strengths and challenges with both preferences, and being one or the other does not mean you can never act as the other or feel comfortable in that role. I especially appreciate your last point about being quiet. As much as I enjoy talking (a lot), I’ve grown professionally and personally in negotiating my desire for connection with a healthy respect for my personal mental and emotional space. It’s nowhere near perfect, but the act of acknowledging that I don’t need, or want, to always be ‘on’ and social has powerful repercussions for what I do with my time and how I see myself. When I was reading Susan’s book, I did feel a bit ‘attacked’ as an extrovert, so your perspective is much needed and appreciated. Great writing as usual my friend. Thank you.

  3. Amma, as much as I love color, you make me appreciate the grey in these situations. Your positivity shone through in this one, and I was loving it! Can’t wait to read the book.

  4. Quality, thoughtful piece Amma. I appreciate your framing of this from an asset based view rather than a deficit based view. So often we highlight the negative in the other rather than exploring the positive, not to mention that rarely are we ourselves 100% in one category.

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