Extroverted introvert. An oxymoron, right? It makes no sense and yet… this is exactly what I am. An extrovert is typically someone who is outgoing and social, friendly and expressive. They can walk into a room of people, strangers or acquaintances or friends, and carry conversations with ease. An introvert is someone quiet and shy and soft spoken. Large group settings cause anxiety and there is a constant nervousness when it comes to meeting new people.
Last month Becky wrote about her own experiences when it comes to making meaningful connections as an introvert. How getting out of her comfort zone is hard but also necessary. How a simple smile or a kind word to a stranger can bring everyone joy and how building authentic friendships is a slow step-by-step process.
Becky and I are very similar but when it comes to the introverted/extroverted conversation most people assume that I am the extrovert while she is the introvert.
Wrong. We are both introverts.
I have a small group of amazing friends but it has taken years to nurture those relationships. Trust is not something that comes easily and I am selective with the people I choose to spend my free time with. My happy place is a good book and the quiet calm the outdoors – far away from people.
Dave, my husband, is a true extrovert. He’s that outgoing, easy to talk to, friendly-with-everyone kind of guy. I have always been happy to let him “take the lead” in group settings and carry conversation on behalf of both of us. Holding his hand and being a silent supporter is more than enough excitement for me.
As his career began to take off we both realized that, in order to support his success, I needed to become more personable in work-related social settings. Knowing my fear of groups, Dave came up with a great way to help me appear more easygoing…. He created a list of questions. Questions that, when I found myself unsure of what to say, I could use as conversation starters.
- Where do you work? What is your role in the company?
- Do you have a family? How long have you been married? How old are your children?
- What are your hobbies? How did you first become interested in them?
This has been huge in helping me not only start a conversation but also in being an active participant in that conversation. Once I am able to find a common connection, I feel invested and can talk more easily. It takes practice and, even now, it’s not something that comes natural – but it has helped ease my uncertainty in group settings and has resulted in the building of friendships along the way.
God created relationship and community but we have to take the first step towards cultivating them… even if it means feeling a bit awkward. I have learned to be convincing in my role of “pretend” extrovert. What about you? Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or a combination of both? I would love to hear your tips and tricks for helping us introverts feel more comfortable in an extrovert world.