Decoding Extraverts: 7 Ways Introverts Can Value Their Outgoing Counterparts

Something troubling is happening in the world of personality: we seem to have developed an “us and them” mentality between Introverts and Extraverts.

Not so long ago, Introverts were struggling to be seen and understood in an Extraverted world. Things are much better today. But in our attempt to gain understanding and acceptance, Introverts have become a bit one-sided. We have put the responsibility of bridging the gap squarely on the shoulders of Extraverts. We don’t necessarily give the same understanding that we demand and, sometimes, we can be downright mean to Extraverts.

Instead of celebrating both Introverts and Extraverts, we add to the divide.

Let’s take a look at 7 things Extraverts do that bug us, and then happily take the responsibility to decode and value this behavior so we can all get along.

#1: When Extraverts talk incessantly …

Introverts may see someone who talks constantly as annoying, rude and tiring. But what you might not understand is that talking out loud is often the way Extraverts process their thoughts—it’s how they think. 

Ever hear the phrase “Just thinking out loud?” Yep, that was said by an Extravert! They sometimes form their thoughts as they speak, while Introverts will keep their thoughts to themselves while they process them and share them with others only after they are fully “baked.”

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

When Extraverts talk and talk, realize that there are no bad intentions. Most likely, your Extraverted friend is not trying to dominate, just make sense of what they're thinking. Try transitioning the discussion (okay, monologue) to a subject that has some depth to it. This tends to slow people down because it requires reflection. Then you might be able to get a word or two in edgewise, and you will enjoy the discussion to boot!

#2: When Extraverts pressure you to go to parties …

Introverts may consider a push to go to parties as insensitive and maybe shallow. But what you might not understand is this is the way Extraverts show they want to spend time with you. Parties and social events are their thing. They don’t want to leave you out so, when a party pops up, they’re coming to get you! 

In fact, our lack of interest in social events feels like rejection to our Extraverted friends. They sometimes think that our absence at gatherings means we don’t care to see them. 

  • What can you do to bridge the gap? 

First, take the invitation as a compliment. Then reassure your Extraverted friends that you want to see them. Don’t hesitate to explain that it’s the event, the noise, and the surface socializing that is off putting—not the person. 

An Extravert may not realize that you prefer to socialize in more intimate settings where you can have deeper conversations and really listen. So you need to tell them!  Explain that you want to see them but you prefer one-on-one or small groups (it’s science). Most people (if they are real friends) will respect this and feel reassured that you do value time with them.

#3: When Extraverts make small talk …

Introverts may see a small talker as disinterested in making genuine connections. We Introverts can see small talk as a way to avoid topics of depth or anything that’s real. What we may not understand is that an Extravert can be truly interested in getting to know us beyond the surface but will use small talk to break the ice or to make the situation more comfortable for them by avoiding silence.

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

Don’t be the small-talk police. Allow small talk as much as you can without having your own internal meltdown. I know how much we hate it, but small talk is the way our Extraverted friends ease into real connections. Small talk isn’t always their ultimate goal, and they can sometimes feel that being silent is disrespectful to you. So make a little small talk with your Extraverted friends when you have extra energy, and you may find that they are open to more intriguing discussions.

#4: When Extraverts interrupt you …

Introverts hate interruptions when they are trying to relay their carefully formulated thoughts. We tend to focus deeply, and an interruption jarringly yanks us out of that focus. But when an Extravert interrupts, it’s often because they want you to know they are following you, or they see your point. 

For them, dialogues are more of an active back and forth, and both the listener and speaker are lively participants. This style of dialoguing raises the energy level of Extraverts, and they think they are complimenting you by showing you interest.

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

While this one can be annoying to Introverts, it’s easy to work through. For me, a few simple directives have always done the trick … “Hold on” or “Let me finish” has never been met with defiance or bewilderment when said nicely. Instead, I have received an earnest listening ear when I make a few gentle requests. The key is to remember that in all likelihood there is no ill will. Your Extraverted friend just wants you to know they are paying attention.

 #5: When an Extravert tries to bring you “out of your shell” …

First, Introverts don’t experience their world as a “shell” but as an entire, boundless universe. So it’s very hard for us to understand why Extraverts want to bring us out of it!  What we fail to understand is that Extraverts simply want to help you experience their fun and joy. 

It’s like when you twist someone’s arm to take a bite of your chocolate cake because you don’t want them to miss out on its deliciousness. In that moment, you forget that they may not like chocolate, or that it might not be good for them. But your intentions are good.

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

Try bringing them into your universe and let them experience your joy.  Share a book or play, a museum, a quiet walk in nature. Demonstrate that your “shell” is actually quite lovely, and they may want to visit. Keep explaining your needs to your Extraverted friends. Be clear. You may feel like a broken record, and you may feel they are not listening, but it could also be that they are trying to understand and it just hasn’t sunk in yet.

#6: When Extraverts invite others to your quiet coffee date …

Introverts look forward to quiet time talking with the special people in their lives. If you show up at Starbucks and unexpectedly find three other people at the table, that’s difficult.  You may stay, but this is not what you came for. 

For the Extravert, “the more the merrier” is taken quite literally and they don’t see the problem. They feel that lively conversation for everyone is a wonderful way to spend an hour or two. They don’t mean to upset you and they think they are including you in a fun, engaging gathering.

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

If one of your friends is an Extravert, then you already know they are energized by social interactions, and you should know about their more-being-merrier mantra. So when you make plans with them, a simple check-in is all you need. Let them know that, for you, socializing means spending quality time with them. If they know you well, they will know what that means. If there are any questions, add that you look forward to time alone.  

#7: When an Extravert mistakes you for shy …

A common misconception is that all Introverts are shy. There is a reason for this. Shyness can “look” like Introversion because both a shy person and an Introvert are usually reserved with fewer words. 

Your Extraverted friends may not know that Introversion is a draw to your inner world for regeneration and shyness is a fear of rejection in social situations. They may not realize they’re two different traits that present alike. So don’t be upset at your Extraverted friend for making this mistake. They didn’t grow up learning this. Few do. 

  • What can you do to bridge the gap?

By now you are getting the idea … communication is the key. They will not understand that you are not shy until you explain it to them. They want to help you “get over” what they think is shyness, and don’t realize they are trying to change an important part of the Introvert’s personality. It can feel like they don’t accept us, or that they think we need fixing. Explain to them what Introversion actually is (it’s not shyness) and keep in mind that they are trying to help you in the way they know how.

Making the shift

As our first effort, we Introverts should remember that Extraverts have lived in a society that has reinforced the way they navigate the world. They have never had to second guess their Extraverted tendencies, or even think about them. Just as we needed to learn about ourselves as Introverts, Extraverts have a learning curve, and they need our help. 

Let’s make a shift in our approach and take some responsibility by honestly pursuing a more mutual understanding. Let’s stop being so judgy towards Extraverts and help them instead. I think we will find that they are willing and able to learn, and all will benefit.

Becky Green
Becky Green is a Social Worker and MBTI® Practitioner certified by The Center for Applications of Psychological Type. Becky loves to explore human differences, and she is convinced that proven typology tools can help us foster compassion today when it's sorely needed. Her INFJ happy place is writing in her home office with 432 Hz music playing and a dog named Rocker on her lap.