WHEN SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT...

Being an Extrovert: 5 Things You've Probably Wondered About Yourself, Explained

Jan. 4, 2021 - Katie McCallum

As an extrovert, you already know that you're good at conversation and remembering names and faces. But, by now, you've probably also figured out that there's more to being an extrovert than just having a lot of friends and making good first impressions.

Whether you're an extrovert or you're an introvert who's desperately trying to understand one, Jessica Logan, senior organizational development consultant at Houston Methodist — who's an extrovert herself — explores common questions you may have about being extroverted.

What does being extroverted mean?

Extroverts are people who are energized by interactions with other people.

"For instance, I'm an extrovert, and I personally love talking to people who I don't know. So much so that, if I feel stressed, having a conversation with a random stranger at a coffee shop is totally uplifting for me," says Logan.

Introverts, on the other hand, are energized by reflecting on the information and thoughts in their mind.

"Social interactions, particularly when they're prolonged or frequent, can actually be draining for introverts," Logan adds. "For instance, having to have a conversation with a random stranger would likely add to an introvert's stress, not relieve it."

What are an extrovert's strengths and weaknesses?

There are pros and cons to everything, personality traits included.

According to Logan, extroverts excel at:

  • Quickly making social connections
  • Creating positive energy within a group
  • Communicating ideas in an engaging, persuasive manner
  • Being in the spotlight

"Extroverts are often people who tend to be good at rallying the troops, so to speak — bringing people together around a shared goal," says Logan. "In conversation, extroverts are typically comfortable, persuasive and straightforward, and we don't shy away from talking through an idea or problem."

In addition, Logan says that extroverts are often enthusiastic about their ideas and the commonalities they find between themselves and other people.

But, it's actually this enthusiam and the resulting tendency to immediately share what they are thinking that can sometimes lead to the struggles of extroversion.

"As extroverts, we tend to want to show that we're listening to you by saying something ourselves. We are sharing our own experiences in an attempt to connect with you and as a way to say 'I hear what you are saying.' We're only talking to share a commonality we've found, but it can come off like we're trying to take over the conversation or make it about ourselves," warns Logan. "While we know this isn't our actual intent, extroverts should be mindful that this can frustrate our introvert counterparts who don't operate this way."

How do introverts feel about extroverts?

Every extrovert has at least one relationship — whether it's personal or professional — with an introvert. And with differing strengths, weaknesses, priorities and tendencies, you may be wondering how your introvert counterpart sees things from his or her point of view.

Rhonda Goshine, senior organizational development consultant at Houston Methodist — and Logan's introverted coworker — describes what she appreciates about Logan and other extroverts, as well as the tendencies she sometimes struggles with.

"I find so much value from the extroverts I work with. In particular, I appreciate the balance they bring to my working style," says Goshine. "As an introvert, I tend to sit on my thoughts and ideas — sometimes too long. The energy an extrovert brings to a team can help encourage me to get my ideas out of my mind and into the world. In addition, an extrovert's ability to readily talk through his or her ideas provides me with a lot of information that I can then process and reflect on as I shape my perspective on things."

There are a few extrovert tendencies Goshine struggles to understand, however.

"Talking through ideas and reacting with excitement and energy can be very powerful things, but extroverts shouldn't expect introverts to operate in this same way," explains Goshine. "Introverts often need time to process information before talking about it, and extroverts should understand that a non-reaction or "awkward pause" doesn't mean that we don't care or don't agree. It usually just means we're reflecting and processing what we've learned."

Can an extrovert suffer from social anxiety?

Extroverts are typically known for being cool, calm and collected in most social situations, but that doesn't mean they're immune to experiencing anxiety as a result of social interaction.

"While it may take on a different form than it does for introverts, extroverts can certainly have social anxiety," says Logan. "Extroverts tend to be people pleasers, so an extrovert may feel anxiety over what people think about them or how they are perceived by others."

Introverts, on the other hand, often feel more anxious about the act and logistics of socializing itself.

Can an extrovert become an introvert?

According to both Logan and Goshine, extroversion and introversion are hard-wired personality traits. So, if you're an extrovert, rather than trying to change who you are, embrace it!

"Extroverts can improve upon their personality, however, by learning and leveraging introverted behaviors. One of the behaviors I think extroverts can benefit from the most is finding value in taking time to pause and think about information, rather than reacting on it immediately," says Logan.

But, when the information you have to share is exciting or when you want to be sure that the other person understands you're listening, how do you know when to speak up and when to sit back and listen?

"Somewhere along the way, I learned a series of three questions that has helped me become a better listener and collaborator: 1.) Does this need to be said? 2.) Does this need to be said by me? 3.) Does this need to be said right now?" says Logan. "If your answer is 'no' to any of these questions, and certainly if your answer is 'no' to all three, consider waiting to share it. Or, at least wait for a better time to share it."

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