Extroverts have a one step process for thinking and speaking. They speak while attempting to form their point of view. An extrovert is often fast paced. They process information out loud because they have an external thinking process. When you ask an Extrovert a question, what do you typically get? You get an answer. Eventually you get the answer but not without hearing everything that pops into their mind first.
Here is the example we can all relate to. You call your extroverted spouse after a long day at work and ask a simple question, “Where do you want to have dinner tonight?” Without missing a beat you hear, “I don’t care, well, I’m really in the mood for a steak tonight, so let’s go to McGills… I have also wanted to try that new restaurant downtown on Boston Avenue but I bet there’s going to be a long line… I haven’t had Mexican food in a long time, so let’s run over to On The Border since they are fast… but I’m trying to lose some weight so…. let’s eat fish…. The truth is I’m kind of tired, I’ll just pick up something on the way home and we can have dinner in tonight.”
If you are the person that is listening, you are thinking that you’re going to McGills for steak, then you’re going to the new restaurant on Boston Avenue, then you’re going for fajitas, then sushi, only to end up eating at home!
With an extrovert, you hear the processing that leads them to the answer. You hear it real time, at the same time they are thinking about it. They think and speak in a one step process.
I love listening in on two Extroverts in a conversation. They banter back and forth, cutting each other off, talking more and more loudly, and no one’s feelings get hurt! Actually, the best way to know that an Extrovert is interested in what’s being said is that they are interrupting you while you are speaking. You said something that triggered a thought and they blurt it out while you are talking. So, the truth is, an interruption from an Extrovert is really a sign of interest!
Of course, social norms tell the extrovert interrupting is rude, so they try to stay quiet. That causes them to start thinking about what they want to say instead of listening. Only to be told they aren’t good listeners. They can’t win!
For the person that is listening to the Extrovert, it can feel like they are on a rollercoaster. Highs and lows, sudden twists and turn, some surprises, and usually the conversation is at a quick pace. The worst part occurs when your question is answered with the first thing that comes to mind and it ends up hurting your feelings.
So let’s play this out. The Extrovert keeps saying the first thing they think and it causes hurt feelings or arguments. Over time, the Extrovert begins to hold back and learns to be quiet, so no one will be upset with him. This ultimately leads to a slow withdrawal from the relationship. They don’t trust themselves to say it “right” and then they don’t trust the receiver to give them grace, so there is no other way to avoid the conflict.
Hear this. The first thing they say is not how they truly feel. It is merely the first thing associated with the conversation. The Introvert probably has the same associations in many situations but their comments come after they have thought it through. If you are introverted, let me ask you this: “What if everything you thought about you actually said?” Can you imagine the trouble you would be in???? That’s the world of an Extrovert!
If you are an extrovert and you say something you know is inappropriate, (which will probably be in about 15 minutes) just follow it with “I need a pass on that. I said that because that was the first thing that I thought of but it is not really how I feel.” Hopefully, the person on the other end will be gracious and give you one. If not…..well…..I’ll write about that another day!