Category Archives: counseling

Extrovert, Introvert or Ambivert – Which Are You?

Ambivert

For all the ways that Nan and I are similar, there is one area that has been a struggle for us. When we are in a social environment, like church, Nan is ready to go home right after the service, whereas I want to stay and “work the crowd”. But it has always confused us that on a Myers-Briggs assessment she is an extrovert and I lean towards the introvert side of the scale.

What we have figured out is that Nan is an includer. She likes to connect people together to make sure they are not isolated. She likes to resource people. I like to connect with people, but then give them their space. I “turn it on” appropriate to the task or situation at hand, but then like to shut it down and recharge.

Whenever I suggest something, I am usually thinking small – as in Nan and me. But even before I can finish relating my idea Nan is usually thinking who else she would want to include. All of a sudden my idea starts morphing into something different. And it tends to make me anxious and want to stop talking before it grows into an introverts nightmare.

Now, Nan has no intention of causing me pain. She just gets excited by expanding the circle. But then I start to feel out of control. And so we get tangled. Nobody is at fault here. We just are different.

The Fix

Because Nan will always try to run ahead of me we have had to agree to over-communicate when dealing with commitments. Before inviting someone into our world or committing us into someone else’s world we have agreed to check with each other first. This is not easy for Nan and she sometimes forgets. I have to dig deep for grace when this happens. But I have to admit that my life is bigger because of her attitude towards people, and she might admit that her life has more margin because of my restraint.

A Third Choice

Fortunately neither of us falls into the extreme sides of the introvert/extrovert scale. As time has progressed we have probably both headed toward the middle – which we label ambiverts. If you are interested, I found these nine signs that you may actually be an ambivert.

  1. I can perform tasks alone or in a group. I don’t have much preference either way.
  2. Social settings don’t make me uncomfortable, but I tire of being around people too much.
  3. Being the center of attention is fun for me, but I don’t like it to last.
  4. Some people think I’m quiet, while others think I’m highly social.
  5. I don’t always need to be moving, but too much down time leaves me feeling bored.
  6. I can get lost in my own thoughts just as easily as I can lose myself in a conversation.
  7. Small talk doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does get boring.
  8. When it comes to trusting other people, sometimes I’m skeptical, and other times, I dive right in.
  9. If I spend too much time alone, I get bored, yet too much time around other people leaves me feeling drained.

I am not surprised that a lot of people haven’t heard of ambiverts, but it makes sense to me. So which one do you think you are? Introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

Are You One Of The Quiet People?

 

Quiet

Some time back one of our relatives remarked “You are the quiet people.” I think it was an interesting way of reframing our tendency at times to be more than just introverted. It’s not shyness and it’s not antisocial. I am not exactly sure how to label it. But I have a high need to withdraw and be introspective a lot of the time.

I might say “I am just not a morning person” because it seems I require a lot of time in the morning to come alive. But I’m not sure that is totally accurate, either. It feels more like I am a computer that downloaded software updates during the night and when I wake up all that data has to install before I can become operational. And during that time my need for quiet is intense.

Nan is a bit different. She might sleep later than me, but she tends to wake up pretty much “on”. But I know she needs blocks of quiet, too. Sometimes they coincide with mine and sometimes not. When they don’t there can be some friction.

This need for quiet can be interpreted as “unfriendliness” or arrogance or superiority sometimes. But that is not the truth. It is more a case of competing needs. Extroverts want to process out loud. Interaction energizes them – like coffee does for me – a quiet cup of coffee.

How about you? Are you one of the quiet people, too?

If you are I might suggest over-communicating your need for quiet or alone time to those around you. Don’t wait until you start to feel annoyed or irritated. It may seem better to try to endure, but a kind request will probably be more effective.

If you are not one of the quiet people, you will need to observe those with whom you interact. Are they starting to withdraw even though you have not said anything offensive or controversial? You might want to check out if they are becoming overwhelmed or overloaded by the conversation. Again, a kind inquiry rather than taking offense or doing the all too prevalent mind reading or interpreting will serve you better.

Some extroverts can’t fathom how painful it is for a shy introvert to be the center of attention. And some introverts can’t imagine why anyone would want to get up in front of a group or stand out.

Again, I don’t necessarily think this just comes down to extroversion vs. introversion. I think there are variations of temperament that need to be factored in as well. For example, I really take pleasure in getting lost in a book. And I know some extroverts that are just like me.

The best understanding would probably be to say that we exist along a continuum that represents both extremes, from super quiet to super expressive. And some of us probably move along that continuum pretty fluidly. I have heard people at church declare adamantly to me “No way are you an introvert.”

But then again, they haven’t seen me at home.

Belonging

Belonging

We were at a memorial for a friend this week. These events are always bittersweet for me, and I’m sure for everyone else.. We celebrate a life while at the same time mourning the loss. They grab our attention and trigger all sorts of feelings. Perhaps the younger people don’t fully comprehend the shortness of life, and the value of not wasting energy on things that don’t matter. But many who attended surely do.

As I looked around the room and recognized so many old and new friends I was struck by an intense feeling of belonging. These are my people. This is my extended family. Many of the folks that were in that room would care if something happened to me, just like they cared about our friend. The feeling was “We lost one of ours.”

People who isolate, whether physically or emotionally do not experience the “belonging” that I am talking about. There are few intimate stories that can be related about them. But those who have risked being known will have many who can speak about them in detail.

“These are my people”

I think the “anonymous” groups like AA are successful because they create a sense of belonging. It doesn’t matter that the reason for being there is the result of pain and error. What matters is the acceptance and the sense of belonging. Like it or not, these are “my people.” Often there is a fierce loyalty that is created.

I have spent many of my years in shallow relationships, afraid to be known. It took a lot of intentionality to break free from operating defensively. Perhaps you can relate. I am not saying that we should develop intimate relationships with everyone. Far from it. Not everyone is safe and worth the risk. But we must find a place where we can belong and seek out the connections that will hold up under stress.

Some people believe they have no relational need outside of their nuclear family. I have seen too many very unhealthy families to agree with that position. Especially when we come from a broken family we need to belong to an extended, supportive group. I am not suggesting that we abandon family (except under dire circumstances), rather just not make the family our exclusive relational world.

Some groups that we belong to are temporary or transitional, like school or work related. Others are more permanent like our church or career. I was in several bands in the early years, but mostly one career. The intensity of the feeling of belonging in each was related to my investment. The more I invested (risk involved) the stronger the sense of belonging.

I believe that the church (God’s family, not the building) can be the most genuine expression of belonging that is available to us. Yes, belonging to this family can sometimes be challenging because it is made up of people. However, the underlying stated values, when followed, will be self correcting. These values include love, forgiveness, humility, peacefulness, patience, kindness and many more. When these values are held as essential goals, who wouldn’t want to belong?

Dedicated to Dan Raymond