Into Introversion #3 // Can Introverts and Extroverts Coexist?

The short answer is…yes they can! But it will need a degree of understanding about the characteristics of the introvert and their needs.

In general extroverts find it very difficult to understand introverts, but introverts find it very easy to understand extroverts. This is because the extrovert generally thinks out loud, so everyone gets to hear and understand what’s going on in their heads, whereas the introvert tends to process everything internally…privately.

Here are some things for you to remember and some tips for those of you extroverts as you interact with the introverts around you…

  1. We like to be alone sometimes…in our own heads. It doesn’t mean that we don’t like you. Or that we are upset with you.
  2. We don’t do small talk. Don’t expect us to talk about the weather or about what we had for breakfast just to fill in time. We don’t believe gaps in conversation are a sin.
  3. We cannot stand repeating ourselves. If we talk, we expect you to listen, not think about the next thing that you are going to say.
  4. We need you to recognise that these things that you notice about us are not a choice we make. It’s the way our brains are wired. We are not sick or abnormal.
  5. If we are quiet or appear to be lost in thought, don’t say, “What’s the matter?” or “Are you OK?”. Ninety-nine percent of the time there is nothing wrong, we are just lost in thought, and content in our own head space. Asking us these questions drives us NUTS! 🙂

I want to finish this post by reminding you that neither an extrovert or an introvert are better than the other. There is no hierarchy of personality types. We are just different. Accept it, deal with it.

Introverts…don’t expect your extrovert to fully grasp the way you work…it’s as foreign to them as a desert to a penguin.

Extroverts…don’t expect your introvert to act like you do…occasionally they might try, but ultimately they will burnout and go find a quiet corner to recover in. 🙂

The key, as with all relationships, is grace and acceptance.

How do you go getting on with your opposite? Have you figured out any tips and tricks you’d like to share?


Related posts:

The post that started it all

Into Introversion #1 // Do you know an introvert?

Into Introversion #2 // Introvert…Extrovert…Shy?

Into Introversion #4 // What God can do with an Introvert?

Into Introversion #5 // Churches and Introverts


13 responses to “Into Introversion #3 // Can Introverts and Extroverts Coexist?

  1. Despite recognising what and introvert needs.. I still cant cope with it. I really cant accept it.. it makes my skin crawl.. reading the list brought a rise in me that almost made me mad.

    Choosing NOT to do something just because they are introvert to me is just not an excuse. ie.. choosing NOT to do small talk is really rather annoying and rude in my books as most people of both types like small talk as an introduction to deeper talk.

    Im an extrovert and proud of it and I will never under the introverts they make me cross!

    Totally agree with Penguins in the desert analogy.. I will NEVER accept Introverts excuses for what I see as rude and aloof behaviours!

  2. Spoken like a true extrovert Sarah… mouth off and running before the brain engages…

    If you read the post again I think you’ll find that introverts dont choose NOT to do small talk, they find it hard to do small talk but it doesnt mean they dont do it. If they had a choice they may choose not to engage on occasion, just like you CHOOSE NOT to except the traits of an introvert.

    Frankly your comments are extremely selfish and show you just dont care for anyone but yourself. If they aren’t like you then they arent worth your time… that’s a sad way to live your life…

    By the way I’m an extrovert

  3. Eddy, I will forgive your ignorant attack as you don’t know me.. but keep your personal attacks to yourself..

    I was commenting in general and not flaming anyone in particular.. I am happily married (for 16yrs) to an Introvert so I do know how they work.

    I believe we all have a choice in our behaviour especially in a social setting.. I have friends with Asperges who have learned to show humour and behave socially more acceptable.

    So no one can give me the old chestnut that they don’t have a choice!

  4. Sarah we’re not talking about ‘not having a choice’ we’re simply talking about people’s tendencies to react certian ways depending on how they are wired.

    Sure you may find some people ‘rude’ because they react in a way that you find socially unexceptable but to blanket them all and call them rude is biased and unfair.

    No doubt your introvert husband has learnt to engage, maybe other introverts would do the same if extroverts gave them the opportunity to do so and didnt speak over the top of them or tell them that their are socially inept… food for thought dont you think?

  5. Eddy, If you actually READ what I said I never blanketed all introverts as Rude – I said certain behaviours I find rude based on the examples given in Michelle most Excellent article!

    And though you don’t deserve a response I will humour you and defend my beloved husband by saying this – I never made any inference about my Husbands behaviour. You made presumptions and statements that frankly I find rather amusing in their ignorance.. Why would you think my husband would NEED to learn to “engage”

    You contradict yourself by assuming such things about him.

    My point that referred to my husband was “I am happily married (for 16yrs) to an Introvert so I do know how they work.” My statement makes no inferences about HIS behaviour at all and was made only to qualify my own understanding and experience by the pure fact I live and relate to an Introvert daily.

    I find it rather amusing really as your comments are only proving your own Extrovert foibles by the fact you think you have a right to try and change me or my thinking!

  6. I’m not trying to change anyone’s ‘thinking’ merely pointing out the fact that you yourself say you understand introverts yet “will NEVER accept introverts excuses for what I see as rude and aloof behaviours” which in and of itself states that you ‘understand’ introverts yet clearly choose not to exercise that understanding when they ‘offend’ you by their behaviour.

    Understanding your husband is one thing but affording the same grace to other introverts seems to be something else in your book… just asking for some fairness and balance in your approach… having inside knowledge of an introvert one would expect that you would be able to sympathise with their difficulties rather than simply calling them rude when they happen to annoy you.

    I’m simply calling for a little respect for those that behave differently to us, understanding before being offended.

  7. Thank you for commenting Eddy and Sarah.

    You have both come out with guns blazing, and it’s easy to see that you are both passionate about defending your view points.

    From an introvert’s perspective….making inane conversation for the sake of it is increadibly draining and pointless. Which is why we tend to avoid it where possible. I’m not saying that we *don’t* do it, we do….and it IS a valuable thing in a broader context.

    On the issue of introverts and extroverts in marriage. I am married to an extremely extroverted guy. It takes a great deal of conscious effort to relate to him in a way that makes him feel loved, particularly since he’s a quality time person, and I thrive on words on affirmation. I have to make an effort to balance the times when I say “babe I love you, but I really MUST have alone time” with the times where I spend time just watching him do the gardening and listen to him download his brain. It takes work. It doesn’t come naturally. I doubt that I’m the only introvert that feels that way.

    My next post will be about the changes that can occur in an introvert’s interactions when they allow themselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, which will be followed by how introverts can function well in the church which is full of unrealistic expectations about how poeple interact.

    I look forward to your comments

  8. Pingback: Totally Random Tuesday #3 - Making my way as an introvert «

  9. Pingback: Into Introversion #1 // Do you know an introvert? «

  10. Pingback: Into Introversion #2// Introvert…Extrovert…Shy?? «

  11. Wow what a discussion. I am more of an extravert and have had relations with 2 introverts. The only reason why one lasted 12 years and another 15 years is that I understood their needs and and complied in many things that are essential to their needs as introverts. Both relationships ended as both were unwilling to ever endure certain things that were essential to me. I finally realized that many introverts. not all but many, seem to be unwilling to ever compromise. I never forced my spouses to attend any social or family event where they would have been expected to attend with me. What I did want was good communication. I would allow them to regroup, assess, and energize. This down time was always usually after we disagreed on something I understood they needed the time, Afterwards they would never want to make the time for serious communication that a relationship need to keep thriving.That was what was important to me. I will also add that many, not all, but many, introverts see their thought process as superior and are carrying their behavior as a badge. Slow and well thought? Often it was overly analytical and long winded, but that was only if you had that rare occasion that they actually shared their thoughts. Many extroverts, not all, but many will sit in meetings, social events, etc and hold their tongue to keep the peace but many introverts will not do the equivalent and communicate

  12. EngagedtoIntro

    As with any relationship, communication is key. Doesn’t matter the personalities, the feelings–only way any relationship will work is if needs are clearly and compassionately stated/understood. Honesty is big with me. My fiancee sometimes gets in a rather agitated state after prolonged social interaction/energies are high. Sometimes she fails to let me know she needs alone time, and lashes out at me verbally. Those times suck, and they are blessedly few (no one’s perfect), but the fact is that the relationship is committed to on both ends. I love her, she loves me. That keeps us glued together. We compromise, we sacrifice, and in turn, we give back tenfold. Intro/Extra relationships CAN work, but like any relationship, it takes work, and there hard and there are easy times.

    • EngagedtoIntro

      I, myself, am not without my own flaws. I misinterpret. I get hurt over nothing sometimes. No one’s perfect. Her and I make up and make amends, and love deepens. That’s love for ya. Respect, nurture, apologize, forgive, move ahead. Repeat.

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