JD Martin

5 Questions Extroverts and Introverts Answer Differently

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In the previous posts, we’ve looked at the primary differences between Extroverts and Introverts. In this post, we’re going to begin to shine the light on a few different scenarios that Extroverts and Introverts tend to answer differently. Remember, these are just scenarios and don’t guarantee a specific preference, but they can be helpful to at least consider.

Here are 5 Questions Extroverts and Introverts Answer Differently

#1 The Party

If money was no object, what would your perfect party look like?

Let’s start with a question. If money was no object, what would your perfect party look like? 

How many invitations would be sent? We promise to pay for the whole thing – all expenses covered, wherever, whenever, and however you want to throw your party, it’s a blank check. You can go anywhere in the world, do anything you want, with all the people want to invite. You can have the party you’ve always dreamed of. The one caveat is that the party has to be for you – it’s not about what will make other people happy. The only thing you need to worry about is what would you most love to do. So you can invite 3 people or 3,000 people, assume everyone will come, and we will pay for it all. Now take a minute to think about that party. 

Envision it.

What would it look like? What would you do? How many people would you invite?

When we run this exercise in person, we usually go through a few steps. When we ask how many people would send less than 10 invitations, there will inevitably be hands raised. But just as predictably, all the Extroverts look around the room in shock and disbelief, “You’re joking!”

So think to yourself, would you like to have 10 or fewer people? 50 people? 100? 1,000? Here’s the thing, every Introvert, by preference, when they see that question, often thinks, “Gosh, if someone else if paying, I ought to have a big group,” but when we say, “No, it’s got to be the best party you’ve ever had,” we quickly find that most Introverts would rather deal with up to about 12 people. The reason being is the party they generally love most is the chance to do depth with all the key people in their life. So the fact that during an evening, they can have a conversation with each person they love and have a chance to connect with them, that’s usually the preference.

Extroverts, on the other hand, love giving breadth to life, and a lot of them would rather have a party full of all the people they know and love in the world where they can go around and just take sheer joy in connecting all the people they love to each other. They love to jump around pollinating the flowers of friendship, “Hi, how are you? Great to see you. I love you. It’s so exciting you’re here” and so on. Occasionally they might stop long enough to have a deep conversation, but in many ways, it’s just way too exciting, seeing all the people they know and love in one place, to just stand and talk to three people all night. Some of you reading this might be laughing, but there’s a good probability you’re either thinking of yourself or someone else you know who fits this description to the letter.

#2 The Recharge

Here’s another scenario to think about. 

At the end of a long day, how do you most effectively recharge? 

If you think about it, most work environments are Extroverted to some degree. A day at the office, in the restaurant, meetings, field work, customer service, etc. usually requires interacting with a number of people.

So most everyone has to do some level of Extroverted activity every day. That means the real question is how do you best recharge at the end of a long day of work? What happens when you get worn out? Where do you go?

A lot of Introverts use the excuse of exercise, reading, or a long bath as legitimate reason to get time away. Or maybe they’ll choose to stay longer in the office than they actually need because they like the gap between when work is finished before they actually have to go home and deal with the family and the kids, which is usually yet more Extrovert chaos.

On the other hand, many Introverts love the invention of headphones so that when they go to exercise for recharge they can put those headphones in and know most people won’t try to speak to them. They can run, cycle, walk, etc. and it’s a legitimate retreat. Or maybe you Introverts out there like to lock the door in the bathroom and lie in a bath with candles for an hour and a half, because again, cleansing oneself is also a legitimate reason to squirrel yourself away from the rest of the world.

Extroverts get tired too. They want to be able to rest, but then they go out again because they get re-energized by being with people. For example, many Introverts may think, “How long do I have to stay out before I can retreat to bed or a good book without everyone thinking I’m a party pooper?” They will try to work out when in the moment they can make their exit. A tired Extrovert might also think, “I’m really, really tired. I need to get to bed, get a good night’s sleep. I’m exhausted it’s 9:00 pm. I really ought to go.” But then they think about it again or see everyone else having a good time and start to waiver, “Well, maybe one more drink…” By two in the morning, they’re now wired, they’re having an amazing time and they’ll be saying, “Oh, I was tired five hours ago, but all of a sudden now I’m energized and up and running.” 

#3 The Retreat/Vacation

By now you might start to pick up on some of the clues, but let’s push forward anyway.

Let’s say we sent you on retreat to a beautiful hotel in the Alps, but there’s no TV, no WiFi, no phones, or people. How long would you really enjoy it for? How long would you want to stay until you signaled for someone to come get you? 

This is not an endurance test, by the way. This is not a case of proving how long you can survive cut off from everyone. The question is for how long would you really and truly enjoy staying there by yourself. Beautiful surroundings, you can walk, you can sing, you can read books, but there are no people, there is no Internet, and there are no phones. The food will arrive as if by magic and you can be there in this environment on our bill for as long as you’d like to be, as long as it’s actually life-giving and energizing for you. So think, for how many days would you really enjoy that? 

You’d be surprised at the variety of answers we have gotten on this one over the years. Some say they’d tap out after a few hours. A good chunk of people say they’ll last 2 or 3 days, with the more Introverted ones lasting a week or two. But then you have some who ask if they’d ever have to come down. They’d stay up there the rest of their lives, especially if we threw in a few of their deepest relationships. They’re the extreme Introverts of the group!

What happens with most Extroverts though, the moment you take away that power source – people, technology, tv, etc – they get bored and depleted rather quickly. They’ll think, “Great. I’ll do some exercise, run, sing, maybe God if you’re there, I’ll talk to you – anybody, ideally.” Then when they’ve done their activities they’ll try to catch up on their sleep because once the plug has been pulled there is nothing keeping the Extrovert going because there’s no external recharge. The fact is most of us don’t realize how much stimulation we have in our everyday lives. 

If we asked when the last time was that you went without your phone for more than four hours, you would probably say you do it all the time. But most of us check it without even thinking – Facebook, text messages, internet, news, etc. We live in this wired world which, in many ways, often creates a lack of energy. 

So if you haven’t been able to figure out whether you’re an Extrovert or Introvert yet, spending some time thinking through this scenario. If you last a day or a weekend, you’re probably an Extrovert. If you last more than that, a week or longer, you’re probably an Introvert

#4 The Wedding

What about weddings? Other than seeing your friend get married, how excited are you to attend if you know you have no one else to go with? No one you know will be there and you’re going to be sat at a random table. How exciting is the prospect of that wedding for you? 

Most Extroverts are usually thinking, “Who am I going to bless with my presence today? Who am I going to meet today? Who am I going to get a chance to share with?” 

Many Introverts, however, when faced with this scenario wonder if root canal treatment is on table as an alternative option.The prospect of knowing no one and likely being forced into small talk and get-to-know-you scenarios with no hope of a wing-man jumping into the fray with them can be less than ideal. Introverts in this situation will often, whether consciously or subconsciously, find themselves locking-in on one or two people in extended, deep conversation, choosing to get to know one person and become familiar with them, rather than roaming from one small talk situation to another.  

#5 Brainstorming Ideas

If you’re still not sure of your preference, let’s dive into your job. 

Imagine your boss at work comes to you wanting your very best insights on a complex problem. When will you prefer to have that meeting? Do you want time to prepare an opinion, or would you rather have brainstorming time with the boss to hash out ideas? 

Most Extroverts really like brainstorming out-loud so they suggest going to the break room to hear about the idea or gathering around the conference table with a whiteboard and working things out right then and there.

On the flip side, when you ask most Introverts “What do you think?” the Introverts will usually feel they need some time to go away, research, consider, and evaluate options to determine their opinion before they come back and deliver it to the boss. 

So if you are leading an Introvert, they will often find ways to garner more time to form their considered viewpoint rather than work it out in real-time with you at the beginning. If you think you’re an Introvert and you know that your boss wants your best advice, how would you feel if he or she said the following: “You know, I really want your very best. This is the problem I’m wrestling with. But you don’t have to respond right now. Instead, we’re going to have coffee tomorrow at 11:00 am. I want you to bring the best you’ve got. And maybe send me a few bullet points if that would help you in advance.” 

The key here is understanding the world in which we operate best and using that knowledge to get the best out of ourselves and others. If it’s white-boarding and brainstorming out loud, make the time. If it’s going away to research, think, and draw up multiple scenarios, then make the time. And never forget that those you lead are thinking the same thing. So take the time to get to know them and give them what they need to give you their best.

Descriptions Commonly Associated with Introverts and Extroverts

Now that we’ve run through a few scenarios, let’s take a minute to look at some word pairs. The following table provides a list of words commonly associated with Extrovert and Introvert tendencies. Remember, we all exhibit some level of extraversion and introversion, regardless of our natural, basic preference. Just try to think honestly about which words in each pair best describes your most prevalent natural tendencies as opposed to the learned behaviors and social conditioning that says we should be one way or another.

It’s not about which words sound the best, or being all the words on one side or another. You will probably find yourself to be a mix of both lists. This is simply another tool to help you find clues about what the Introvert and Extrovert preferences mean and how they might relate to you. The reality is that 50% of the world is Extrovert and 50% Introvert. So no matter which side of the spectrum you fall on, we all need to learn how to call on the other side of our preferences to connect with and understand the half of the people we encounter in life.

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your personality affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

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