hey pretty

Ceci n'est pas une "dating blog."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No Help for the Introverted

For some reason recently I have been taking issue with my natural predisposition towards introversion. Being an introvert isn't easy. The majority of the world's population are extroverts so for starters we are outnumbered, and more importantly because extroverts are by definition more vocal than us introverts, they capture more attention. As members of a minority population, introverts are constantly pressured to be more outgoing. We're criticized for not engaging strangers in conversation and regarded as weird because we can't stand being in the middle of ten different conversations at once. Extroverts are never pressured to be more introverted although at times it would probably do everyone a world of good if they would just shut the F up. Why are people so uncomfortable with silence, anyway?

Now I am not talking about social anxiety disorders (which may or may not be total BS, the jury is still out), I am talking about those of us who naturally gravitate towards inward thought, who think before we speak, and who require plenty of alone time in order to recharge our batteries. Those of us who fit this description often end up feeling marginalized within social situations because the extroverts naturally hog the conversation and because we're not talking, people tend to overlook us. I had this experience the other day in a group of people who all ended up chit chatting about something I knew nothing about and they basically all turned their backs on me as I sat there and had wine dumped on my lap by the bartender. More often than not we're accused of being unfriendly and of having poor communication skills. More often than not, we simply possess *different kinds of* communication skills.

I know its counterproductive to waste emotional energy disliking an aspect of your personality that you can't control, but at times I wish I were more outgoing. There are times, when I'm feeling upbeat and when I'm with close friends, and when I am possibly also drunk that I veer towards extroversion. But these are rare occasions and most of the time I feel as if I carry an invisible shell into which I may retreat at the sign of any overwhelming outside force. I wish it were different but I don't see how it ever could be.

Ps: In re-reading this post and the others of this week I realize I have been in a terrible mood these past few days. I promise to cheer up soon and post something uplifting about unicorns or kittens.


Anonymous bill said...

As a fellow innie, I do know how you feel. There is a (smallish) group in which I can behave as an outie (or should it be exxie?) but I am not unhappy if I'm not surrounded by people. Do you think that you miss out on important aspects of life because of this, or that you're ignored professionally?

To be a blogger seems extroverted, though I suppose if you remain anonymous ...


8:46 PM  
Anonymous the good doctor said...

Hear Hear.

Ah introversion, without it my life would have many fewer uncomfortable moments. What do you mean you don’t want to impose yourself on a conversation that you know nothing about/have no interest in?

8:50 PM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...

bill--I don't feel that I am ignored professionally, per say, mostly because I have carved out a nice little professional niche and I'm good at what I do. My job is mostly writing-related so I think it's understood that I'm not going to be that outgoing. However, I do think there are a lot of friendships I have missed out on due to the fact that people often perceive me as being aloof or snobbish when in fact I just take a while to warm up to people. As for blogging, I find that it's a good way to collect and express thoughts that I often have trouble articulating to the world. While extroverts may use blogs as a soapbox, introverts use them as a much needed outlet.

TGD: I totally agree. I hate it when extroverts jump into conversations they know nothing about simply because their personality type predestine them to talk about stuff. Talking for the sake of talking is something I have never related to.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous bill said...

You're right - writing allows a degree of quiet isolation so introversion is not a major handicap. Still, you need to be effective in meetings and be perceived as a team player in many jobs, so sitting quietly at your desk is not always an option.

You can be a conversational firestarter or sniper though - sounds negative, but it's not. Toss out a provocative remark, then let the extroverts run with it. Hang back and listen, then offer a pithy observation. You don't have to talk a lot to be perceived as a participant, you just have to be there mentally and physically. Extroverts will be happy to fill the gaps. Listen, even if you're not particularly interested, to formulate your next insightful remark. You may be able to steer conversation to a topic of more interest to you, or split out with a subgroup.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...

Yeah, that pretty much describes my current approach to meetings.

A few weeks ago I was pulled into a meeting with our CEO and a bunch of people to discuss a contract. 2 hours went by of the extroverts totally steering the discussion of course and saying dumb shit just to impress the CEO. Towards the end he looked at me and said "[insert my name here] I'm curious to hear your thoughts." Luckily, I had been paying attention so I managed to articulate my viewpoint while simultaneously steering the conversation back on topic. Yeah, it was a proud moment.

5:32 PM  
Blogger brd said...

Dear Introvert,

I am basically extroverted, although I spend my professional life quietly in an office editing documents, so I must not be totally exxed. However, in friendships I gravitate to introverts. I become frustrated however, every time I try to get beyond a certain level. I start talking about feelings and get shut out. Got any advice?


1:10 PM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...


Hmm, that's a tough one. I think that when dealing with introverts it's important to understand that they can feel threatened when they perceive that somebody is forcing them to communicate outside their own level of comfort. It's not that they can't, they just need to be encouraged in a different way. I suspect my mother, who is pretty extroverted, and who probably shares your experience in this arena would say that the best way to encourage an introvert to talk about their feelings is to approach the matter with a supreme level of gentleness and caution. Start small and ease into such conversations in a casual, non-threatening manner. Once you gain their trust, they'll probably be more apt to open up to you.

Does that help at all?

8:34 PM  
Anonymous artistique said...

Same here. I too take a very long while to warm up to people... At the same time, there are few people in the world I find interesting, so I guess that also makes me quite snobbish about who I will choose to associate with... a double-edged sword.

Sometimes I wonder if we are a dying breed. Blogging could be considered introverted in one sense as one could choose to be introspective on a page. Whether a human reads it or not is a different matter, but that would also dictate what subjects you would choose to write about. But I have to agree... I don't think blogging implies extroversion.

The art of writing isn't seen in quite the same manner as the art of easily conversing with strangers...

5:35 AM  
Blogger Michael J. West said...

This piece has had the curious effect of demonstrating to me that almost all of my nearest/dearest friends, including yourself, are introverts. Most of those people consider me an extrovert, which confuses me because I very much consider myself an introvert.

Which leads me to wonder: to what extent are these terms relative?

4:59 PM  
Blogger brd said...

If you are willing to have your picture thrown up on a post, does that mean you are extroverted. How do I get rid of this picture.

Your comments are helpful and do ring true. I think I do tend to rush the introvert friends that I have. Sometimes, it feels like they open the door to intimacy. I walk in, thinking, "Hey, the door is open." But I guess I misread at times. Just because someone has opened the door, it doesn't mean they want you to rush in, maybe just stand in the doorway a while.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Hey Pretty said...

brd: I think in order to lose the picture on your comment you have to take it off of your blogger profile.

I have a tactic for getting people to tell me gossip: I don't ask them questions. Often times they'll give up the good stuff when they see that I'm not prodding them to learn more. Not sure why. It could be a useful tactic on your introverted friends. Don't ask them about their feelings and see if your inverse strategy compells them to open up more.

2:50 PM  

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