Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Social Skills: Introvert - may be BUT Extrovert - good to have

As a child I was very introvert, often spending my time on the very few close friends, keeping to myself, pursuing other solo hobbies. I’d usually favor doing these things alone or with people I knew very well. I never felt too comfortable around strangers, and I never cared for big family events. Anyone who knew me would have described me as an introvert without a second thought.

In normal (south)indian lifestyle..this is no big deal and no pressure to socialize always. and I often viewed extroverts as lacking in intelligence and depth, and I can’t say I wanted to count myself among them.

However, over a long period of time, I eventually found myself becoming more and more extroverted. I embraced spending time with other people, went out of my way to meet new people, could comfortably introduce myself to strangers, and actually enjoyed it. To the people who know me today, this wouldn’t be surprising.

I’m not the kind of extrovert I envisioned as a child though. I feel I’ve done a good job balancing the introvert and extrovert parts of myself, such that I enjoy both types of activities equally. I feel just as comfortable staying at home reading a book as I do going to a new social event and introducing myself to people I’ve never met. I enjoy both group and solo activities, each for different reasons. Some weeks I’m far more introverted and mostly stay home with my family. Other weeks I have a full social calendar with an event almost every night. I enjoy both just as much.

  • Undervaluing extroversion. Spending time alone and with people are equally important. If you’re very introverted, you may undervalue the positive role people can play in your life, such as knowledge, friendship, growth, laughter, and so on. The optimal outcome is to strike a balance between the two. You don’t have to give up the introvert activities you enjoy. In fact, when you balance them with more social activities, you’ll probably find them even more satisfying. After several nights of being around people, I really look forward to a night by myself to read, write, sleep, etc. And after lots of time alone or with my family, I’m itching to go out and be around other people.
  • Underdeveloped social skills. Social skills can be learned like any other skill set. One reason introverts shy away from social activities is that they don’t feel comfortable because they don’t know what to do, especially if the unexpected were to occur. Being able to start up a conversation with a stranger AND feel completely comfortable doing it is a learnable skill. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Embrace the fact if you’re a beginner, and don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Envisioning yourself as the wrong kind of extrovert. If you find the extroverted people around you shallow and perhaps even annoying, why would you want to be more like them? You wouldn’t. When I was a kid, I really didn’t want to be more like the extroverts I knew. It seemed very fake and phony to me. But you needn’t choose such a limited vision for yourself — you’re free to form your own vision of a positive way to be more extroverted.
  • Hanging out with the wrong people. Why would you want to spend more time with people you don’t like? If becoming more extroverted means spending more time with people you’d rather avoid, you’ll have no motivation to do it. Again, you’re free to break this pattern and form a social group that you’d love to be a part of.
  • Overvaluing online socializing. Online socializing has its place in your life, but it’s a pale shadow compared to face-to-face communication. Voice and body language can communicate a lot more than text, and emotional bonds are easier and faster to establish in person.
In my experience, I find many reasons for good-to-be-an-extrovert.

No thumbrulez, and Iam no expert.. but I believe Extrovert (and Introvert balance) can take you much further than otherwise you normally would go. If you want to get past some of blocks, the first step is to acknowledge them and consider how they’re holding you back. Then begin to work on them just as you would any other challenge in your life.


priya said...


An awesome post and loved reading it.
I think myself both as an E and I too.
To me being an I is keeping things private and you can be in your world. Its like a secret world with your own cherished moments.
An E is where you communicate when you really have to and need not push yourself to over talk.