Friday, April 26, 2013

Four myths about extroverts.

Introverts often feel misunderstood. Every few weeks there's a new blog post or something up explaining introversion both to introverts who struggle to understand themselves, and to the extroverted world which seems to sits in judgement of them.

But I think there's at least as much misunderstanding of extroversion as introversion out there. I'm a thorough extrovert (according to the Myers Briggs tests) so people expect me to love small talk, think shallow thoughts (if any thoughts at all!), be the life of the party and in constant need of company.

Myths, baby. All of 'em. (Almost)

There's as much variance within extroversion as between an extrovert and an introvert.

Myth #1 - Extroverts like small talk.

The truth - Some do, some don't. Of the 8 Myers Briggs extrovert types, only 4 are into small talk. I have a friend who is a master of social chit chat. He delights in it. He can engage any random in a sparkling stream of nothing until, well, it's time to do something else! Good for him! Personally, I hate small talk. It's boring and we all know that there's nothing worse than being bored. I'd prefer to fast forward through the pleasantries and have a real discussion. Tell me what books you've been reading. Tell me what you've been thinking about!

Myth #2 - Extroverts don't think 'deep' thoughts.

The truth - Some do, some don't. Probably in much the same proportions as introverts. (Don't think an introvert is thinking deep just because he is quiet. His mind might be completely blank!) The difference is that extroverts will want to tell you about their 'deep' thoughts. And nothing makes deep thoughts seem not-so-deep, as saying them out loud. Try it! When you think you are thinking something 'deep', verbalise it. Record it on your phone and play it back to yourself the next day.

Myth #3 - Extroverts are the life of the party.

The truth - They can be. Not all will want to be. Some will try to be the life of the party and be the death of it instead. But without extroverts, there's probably not much of a party to start with so this myth is probably more than a myth.

Myth #4 - Extroverts aren't interested in time by themselves.

The truth - Some are, some aren't! Me, I need it and love it more than my introverted husband - but I take my cave time in places where I can see others (but they need to be strangers who won't talk to me!) and where there is a bit of noise and motion.

Okay misunderstood extroverts. What other myths can we bust?


  1. Yes! I agree with this list.

    Let the disinformation stop! We have been mistreated and typecast for too long! Extroverts Speak Out!


    1. Mikey - Indeed. I think we need an extrovert affirmative action group. We would have fun meetings with no awkward silences. Just need to include enough.

      Do you know your myers briggs type? Are you ESTJ or ENTJ?

  2. I think there's a myth out there that extroverts are the most selfish people socially because 'they don't let others speak'. Like everything on your list above, it's sometimes true and sometimes not. I just took the test and I'm 55% extrovert/45% introvert. Personally, I feel that many introverts are more socially selfish because they often don't speak up in a group, or initiate a hello and get conversation started in order to help others feel more comfortable. Extroverts often feel the obligation to do this and then sometimes face the criticism that they're 'too comfortable' in that role, eg selfishly. It doesn't always work to try to create a social vacuum so the introverts speak up!

    1. Hey Jane. I've ranted about this kind of thing before. Like here -

    2. Well, nice to know that I'm neither alone or original in my thoughts on this :)

    3. Jane, I'm trying to be self controlled. The extroverts are selfish thing really gets my goat...

    4. Mine too :) In case you're interested I'm ENFJ but pretty much 50/50 on the E-I and 50/50 on the F-T. Everyone I know calls me an extrovert, but I don't really feel much like one much of the time. I totally related to your reflection on how extroverts find it gruelling to do the initiating socially too - that's me, through and through. The post you linked to made me feel validated and gave me a good laugh :)

    5. Here's more.

  3. I think the stereotype works for me.

    1. I love small talk. It's my strong point. I will small talk myself to a standstill. I'm curious about what you're interested in. And I'll keep suggesting topics until I strike gold. Then I'll listen to you talk about it for hours. I'll ask questions. And I really will be interested.

    2. I can't think deep thoughts. In fact, I don't think I can think thoughts at all. I need to talk them through. Or publish them.

    3. Am I the life of the party? Not always. But if I need to be I can be. When I'm not involved in small talk with the introvert in the corner

    4. I'm not interested in time by myself at all. I hate it. I end up putting on Pink Moon and feeling very sorry for myself.

    1. Al - Are you an ESFP?

    2. Yes I am. Just.


  4. I agree with the small talk thing. I'm an ENFP (55% extrovert, 45% introvert) and I HATE small talk. I'm terrible at it. My mind wanders and I lose track of the conversation. My introverted husband is much better at small talk.

    I also don't agree that extroversion means selfishness in social situations. I think selfishness has more to do with not being interested in others when in conversation. You can do that by blathering on, but you can also do that by not saying anything and refusing to ask questions about other people. A thoughtful extrovert draws people out in conversation.

  5. I also think that extroversion and introversion aren't fixed states. I get that there are extremes, but there are periods of my life where the introverted side of me is dominant, and other times when I am more extroverted (which is why whenever I do a personality test, I never get the same result). When I'm in a new situation like a new job, meeting a new circle of people, I tend towards introversion. When I am familiar with my surroundings (not necessarily people, I mean more situations I'm comfortable in), I'm very extroverted. I am also extroverted when I need to be - e.g. in ministry. I find these myths tend to set E and I tendencies as if everyone lives in the extreme?

  6. Replies
    1. Unsurprised. I'm almost that... and yet so far from it!

  7. Hmm, I am not sure I am going to let you make stuff up about introverts to support your point (where is the info on this "blank mind" ...). Most people who write this stuff don't just invent in.