I’m a strong extrovert who set out to learn all I could about my opposing personality, the introvert. Last week I shared some of that information in Part One. But as an extrovert, why would I care? After all, don’t most of us assume others think along similar lines as us? I’ve certainly been guilty of believing people either think like me — or should. However, I now know better.
Differences truly are something to celebrate. And in our westernized culture, we talk a good talk, but sadly, still harbor deep seeded beliefs that others should change, and conform to our ways. Introverts in particular have suffered over the past three decades. We’ve embraced teamwork, group think, and other extroverted learning models, but along the way, our introverted counterparts have been overshadowed, become frustrated, and sadly, sometimes shut down. This means we miss out on their extraordinary gifts.
I want to change that mindset.
Last week I promised to detail ways to draw communication, creativity, and compliance from the personality segment I call Silent Rebels. The reason I use that term is because some introverts are adept at pretending to agree with you, or to go along with what you tell them, but deep down inside, their true thoughts decide how they’ll act. Especially if an extrovert is telling them what to do, versus asking what they think.
An introvert has no problem ignoring the white noise of shouting extroverts.
If you really want to reach an introvert, seek to fully understand them, accept them, and meet them where they prefer, not in a manner you would like. Here are three powerful, yet simple ways to glean their gifts, and help them shine, while not making them stand out in the crowd.
- Listen — really listen. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, so use them in the ratio He intended. Don’t drum your fingers, scrunch your face in impatient frustration, or heave heavy sighs, while an introvert is trying to tell you something. Listen with open ears, your whole heart, and an open mind. Let them express themselves, and when there are pregnant pauses, but it’s clear they haven’t finished, don’t try to fill the gaps with sound. Let introverts focus their thoughts, so they can clearly communicate with confidence.
- Give them quiet space to create. Offer encouragement, support, and even assistance, but not in a pushy or aggressive way. If they politely reject your help, don’t react negatively. Simply say, “I’ll leave you to finish, but if you need me for anything, I’m a phone call, text, or email away.” Allow them to control the way they get the job done, and don’t try to force your methods on them.
- Celebrate who they are, but don’t shine a spotlight on them. Talk about famous introverts who’ve changed the world in positive ways. Thomas Edison, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Larry Page, and Barbara Walters are just a few recognizable names. Research and find interesting trivia and stories about these folks that your introvert might relate to. This can help an introvert see their own unique gifts, and help them overcome insecurity, but in an unobtrusive way.
My mission to better understand my introverted counterparts has served me well. I’ve learned from them that quiet spaces are learning places. I’ve experienced the magic of a shy smile, and a look of relief when they know they are accepted, and I’m not trying to fix them. (Introverts don’t need a cure, they need care.) And because I’m married to an introvert, I’ve enjoyed a much happier marriage.
It’s true that opposites attract — in romance, friendship, and at work. It’s also true that as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another. Knowing how we’re different, and celebrating instead of fighting, is just another way I’ve made a fresh start with fresh faith.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Anita Fresh Faith
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, Certified Training Facilitator, Communications Specialist, and national speaker. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Lifeway, Christianbook.com, plus many fine stores, Christian and otherwise.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, a client of WordServe Literary Group, and the Simply Sue Speaks booking agency. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries.
Anita’s passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Anita likes to lounge by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.