Contrary to the popular myth that introversion is rare, the population is actually about 50/50 when it comes to extroversion and introversion. One half of the population views the other half as loud and intrusive. The other half views their opposites as distant and anti-social. While neither stereotype is the complete truth, there are FUNDAMENTAL differences between extroverts and introverts that are often the source of conflict. I’m going share what I feel are the top three miscommunications that introverts and extroverts experience daily. These communications apply to romantic couples, friends, business partners, and family members.
1. Personal Space and Boundary issues
Introvert: “I need my space, you’re smothering me!”
Extrovert: “Why are you so anti-social?!”
Boundaries and personal space are a huge source of conflict between the two types. After prolonged socialization, introverts need to get away to recharge. The reason being is that socialization drains them. Extroverts are the exact opposite, they recharge by being around others. So when an introvert and extrovert socializes, it creates a vampire effect as the extrovert is energized and the introvert’s energy is depleted.
When the introvert asks for alone time, its so that they can recharge. However, extroverts are drained by alone time, and will pull on the introvert so that they can get the precious energy that they desire. When the introvert says no, the extrovert may feel as if the introvert does not like them, or that the introvert is anti-social. This war of energy preservation is what creates conflict around boundaries and personal space.
2. The Introvert Ambush
Extrovert: “Hey, I didn’t get a chance to tell you, but I invited a few more people to join us. “
Introvert: “Why didn’t you tell me, I needed time to get prepared!”
Since extroverts are recharged by socialization, the more folks involved, the merrier! This is not the case with introverts. Often times, introverts need to mentally prepare themselves when they know they are going to have to socialize with a large group of people. They may drink their tea, do yoga, read a book, or just chill on the couch and watch TV to charge up their energy reserves. However, most introverts do not have a problem hanging with one or two close friends.
But when the introvert expects a small gathering, and the extrovert invites a bunch of strangers, the introvert can feel ambushed. Since they did not get a chance to charge up their reserves, they feel ill prepared to deal with the social situation. How the introvert reacts to this situation may vary. Some may act visibly irritated, some may seek to isolate themselves from the group by sitting off in the distance or not communicating, and others may be civil but then give the extrovert a piece of their mind when they're alone.
3. Silent Confusion
Extrovert: “He’s not replying to me, so he must be lying/ guilty/ angry/ mad at me/ fill in the blank”
Introvert: “ I didn’t know you wanted me to respond. I really didn’t have much to say”
Many extroverts are quick to respond to questions. Once a question is asked, an extrovert typically does not have a hard time replying to a question in a timely manner. This is not the same for introverts. Introverts like to think before answering a question. They also prefer listening over talking, therefore they often are not as fast to respond to questions as their extroverted cousins. For the extrovert, this can cause a variety of problems. Let’s say the extroverted woman says, “Well, yesterday my best friend caught her husband cheating. I think cheating is the most despicable thing on earth, glad you’re not cheating on me.” Then, let’s the say the introverted man is silent and does not reply. The extroverted wife may then believe her introverted husband has something to hide because he did not chime in. In reality, the introvert may have not replied because he really didn’t have anything to say. Extroverts can sometimes view silence as disapproval, a sign of guilt, or hostility on the behalf of the introvert. In reality, the introvert just may not have had anything worthwhile to contribute, doesn’t enjoy small talk, or was just in their own world.
There are countless others introvert/extrovert conflicts, but these are the three I feel happen often. Can you name any others?