One of the things that really irritates me when I see certain introverts talking online is how much they seem to hate extroverts. They’ll even use that word — “I hate this thing that extroverts do” or “I hate it when extroverts are like this.” Some even have lists of all the things they hate about extroverts.
We introverts have been pushing for a while now to get recognized as “normal.” Introversion is how about 50% of the population’s brains are hardwired. It’s an inborn preference for the inner world of thoughts and ideas, which is also shaped by our unique individual experiences. So stop judging us for it, okay?
What far too many of us forget is that the exact same things are true of extroversion. For about 50% of the population, being an extrovert is perfectly normal. It’s an inborn preference for the outer world of things and people. Extroverted and introverted mental “wiring” are both perfectly normal. Both are needed, and both personality types deserve respect.
So with that clarification out of the way, let’s talk about whether or not extroverts are incapable of understanding introverts.
Vicious Cycles of Misunderstanding
I think the complaint/idea introverts have that extroverts can’t understand us is rooted in many of the things some introverts say they hate about extroverts. These stereotypes include: extroverts fill silence with babble instead of listening, they jump to conclusions, they’re close minded, and they can’t tolerate our differences. Ironically, I’d say most of those complaints could also apply to introverts who jump to the conclusion that all extroverts are like this and who is intolerant enough of personality differences to say they hate extroverts.
There’s a seriously flawed logic in the idea that because you feel disrespected/misunderstood by someone, then you’re free to be intolerant and disrespectful right back. No! The only thing this does is perpetuate cycles of bigotry. It would be great if we could stop this trend in society as a whole, though that seems unlikely. But maybe we can start by stopping it within the personality type community.
Some Truths About Extroverts
It is true that extroverts (in general) have certain weaknesses that come along with their type. So do Introverts, and in equal measure. But each type also has strengths. Not only that, but every one of us has the freedom to develop within and beyond our personality types. We’re not “stuck” exactly the way we are right now. If we identify a weakness we can work on it.
If an extrovert does find themselves struggling to understand introverts, they can take steps to change. We’ve been seeing evidence of that all around us since the whole introvert movement started. I’d say most people I talk with now have at least heard of the idea that introversion and extroversion are equally good ways of approaching the world. If someone doesn’t understand introverts or thinks there’s something wrong with us, then that’s a cultural/personal bias against this person’s idea of what “introvert” means. Such bias doesn’t automatically happen just because someone’s an extrovert.
I’d venture a guess that if introverts were actually to get out and talk with more extroverts, they’d find many of them are eager to get to know us. Not only that, but many extroverts can relate to things that are commonly thought of as introvert-specific. Even some of the types that seem extremely extroverted when you meet them, like ENFPs, still need introvert-like down time (just in smaller doses). The friendly, people-oriented ESFJ and ENFJ types actually do get tired of people at times and need to slow down and take self-care days just like introverts do.
It’s Not Just An Extrovert Problem
I suppose the real question isn’t, “Are Extroverts Incapable of Understanding Introverts?” but rather, “Are We Willing To Understand Each Other?” The problem isn’t that some extroverts can’t/won’t understand introverts, but that some people have trouble with those whose personalities work differently than theirs.
The Myers-Briggs® typology system give us the tools we need to understand people who are different than us. That’s one of the main reasons Isabel Myers published her book Gifts Differing — to help everyone learn about how their minds and the minds of those around them work. It’s meant to be a tool to help all of us understand each other, communicate better, and appreciate the gifts of each type. Let’s all make sure we use it that way.
Featured image credit: Free-Photos via Pixabay