Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece written by an extrovert based upon his observations of people. There is no claim to expertise. This is just one man’s opinion. Do let me know what you think and what you see.
Hello, my name is Scott and I am an extrovert. I have been an extrovert my entire life, just ask my brother and my wife who are both introverted. You may be thinking that being an extrovert means that I am always the life of the party. You may think that I am bullish and always pushy. You may even think that I have a desire to be the center of attention. You might be right. I do write this blog. I do stand before an audience and speak a few times a week and I record a video devotional for Monday – Friday each week and post it on social media. I also like to slip in “Dad jokes” when I can and am generally enthusiastic. Sometimes I might be too enthusiastic.
But you are not entirely correct. I love to see others shine. I like it when others receive recognition or have the opportunity to be the center of attention. I am content to sit in the back row and observe. I can listen to the ideas of others, their concerns, and problems. I can sit with a book or with THE GOOD BOOK (Bible) and read for hours. I can and do reflect on my behavior and can regret the words I spoke or posted on social media. However, I am an extrovert and get most of my energy from crowds and social settings.
So Much More
We are all so much more that the words extrovert or introvert often imply. Many of us tend to think that extroverts are boisterous and always out front while introverts are quiet, shy, and prefer to be wallflowers wishing they were somewhere else. These stereotypes are misleading. Many introverts are people focused. In my observations it is introverts who seem to have deep, healthy friendships with others. Introverts talk to a variety of people and remain conversant and genuinely informed on many topics. I know introverts who are fantastic communicators, lecturers, educators, and leaders. These introverts stand before others and lead or they work behind the scenes to make changes. They are introverts and they recharge in the quiet solitude of being alone or with someone they love.
Western society seems to place greater value on extroverts. Look at the entertainers we idolize. Consider who we choose to place in political and business leadership. In many cases (maybe most) we choose extroverts. Consider the following list of extroverts as examples: Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Muhammed Ali, George Bush, Donald Trump, Barak Obama, Earnest Hemingway, and Mark Twain.
Looking at history, Westerners have not always elevated extroverts. Until our recent past society looked to introverts to lead. People like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Willson, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and many others. Much of our advancement in industry, sciences, social policies, and education are from the scholarship and leadership of introverts. Wait, since I am a preacher, I should mention that Abraham, Moses, and Solomon were all likely introverts along with many of the judges and prophets (Others like Judas Iscariot and Peter were likely extroverts).
If you are an introvert, DON’T let anyone make you feel less important or allow people to under-value you. We NEED you! We need your thoughtfulness, your ideas, your solutions and your balance. By we, I mean all of us who are extroverts.
If you are an extrovert, look to the introverts around you. Follow their quiet, reflective leadership. Hush long enough to thoroughly listen to what they have to say. They won’t push their way into a conversation, but if you will stop talking long enough to listen, you will learn something of value. I have a little more to say.
What Extroverts Can Do to Hush and Listen
- Stop Talking all the time. Allow your ears to hear what others are saying. Give a moment for your brain to decode the message given. You will learn something. You might even discover that someone said what you were thinking.
- Be Still. Take time to stop and observe the world around you. Sit and watch quietly as a bee collects pollen or a cat stealthily stalks her prey. Count your breaths letting your heart rate slow down.
- Look Inward. I know that this is not in our comfort zone. But looking inward and thinking about all that you said or did during the day and then questioning if it was necessary is important to growth. You may learn to hold your tongue or think before you act.
- Read a Book. While you are reading, stop and think about the narrative or the information. Ask yourself how you would act or feel if you were a character in the narrative or event. Think about the ramifications of your potential actions or the actions of characters or individuals in the story. This is good exercise to practice while reading the narratives in the pages of the Bible.
- Let Others Lead. Follow while you watch and learn from them. You will grow from the experience. I have learned many things that are improving my character and leadership from following other (specifically introverts) as they lead.
Hi, I am Scott and I am an extrovert, learning to hush up and listen.
Note: Personality profiles of historical figures, Bible characters, authors, and politicians are from http://www.personality-database.com