Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Monday, May 14, 2012

How To REALLY Care For Introverts (Part 1)

You've probably all seen this introvert list, it's fairly old news now in the blog world. Soph wrote a good post on it.

But I just wanted to add a few cents to the discussion.  Firstly, I reckon the majority of people aren't strictly introvert or extrovert, but rather one of many possible shades of grey inbetween the two. But, for what it's worth, I'd describe myself as a pretty extroverted introvert. What this means practically, is that I totally identify with the points on this list, but sort of also wince when I read them, with the extroverty bit in me giving me a 'snap out of it' clip around the ear.

I don't quite get the context of this list. Are we talking about children here? How to look after our own kids, or kids in the classroom? Or is this grown up introverts saying to extroverts, this is how you should treat me? If it's the latter, then I think that's kinda irksome. At the very least, it feels like a biased list to me, so here's my additional thoughts to each point.

1. Respect their need for privacy. Yep, I like to be private. I like to keep all my worlds separate, and never the twain shall they meet. That's my default. But should I not be pushed to move beyond that, and open up a bit? And what about my extrovert friends? They are so loud and confident that they have no need for privacy? Respect the need, sure- but encourage them to step beyond this as well.

2. Never embarrass them in public. Well sure, I hate being embarrassed in public. I'm not sure I know anyone who likes it though either.

3. Let them observe first in new situations. To be honest I don't think I fully understand this point. Want to explain it to me? Is it saying give them time to suss everything out before making a move? I do that to an extent. I don't know if it would be overly helpful to give me even more procrastinating time though. I think I'm more in need of encouragement to make that first move, to just get out there and do it.

4. Give them time to think, don't demand instant answers. I'm not that great under pressure, and I do need time to process before I make a sensible decision. But come on, there are a lot of situations that require fast action and fast response. Yes, we'd like more patience from people, but I'm sure introverts are impatient towards extroverts also, just in a different way.

5. Don't interrupt them. Okay, now the list is starting to feel aggressive. Maybe it's that big font on the word "Don't". Once again, yes, an obvious courtesy that should be given to everyone, introvert or otherwise.

6. Give them advance notice of unexpected changes in their lives. This is the point that makes me think  the list was written with children in mind. On that level, it makes sense. This is a big deal to one of our daughters- it is really beneficial for her to know what's going on in the coming week, and for there to be stability, and no surprises. Yesterday morning, the first thing she asked me when she woke was "what are we having for dinner?" I think she inherited some of this from me. I loathe change and uncertainty, I hate to be surprised and caught off guard. It's good to understand this, and cater to it to some extent. But there's also a need to learn to be able to cope with surprises, because life isn't predictable, and God's very complex plans for our lives include a stack of unforeseen  curve balls.

I'll respond to the last 6 points next time. But I think my overall call would be to say this list is helpful for helping our children, and clarifying some things about ourselves. But I think it's a real danger for adult introverts to cling to this list, and wear it like a badge of honour, like a passive aggressive "Understand me, you cruel extrovert world!" kind of way.


Gary Ware said...

As much as these resonate with me, apart from point 11 I thought these principles used to be called 'common courtesy'.

simone r said...

Okay. You've got me started now.

I feel a post coming on.

Wendy said...

This is a pretty sad list that doesn't have a lot to do with introverts/extroverts. Simone wrote a good post on it.