8 things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other

Do you remember the famous 1992 book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus?

Even if you never read it, you’ve probably heard this phrase which made its way into the popular consciousness.

Since then, though, this idea that men and women are so fundamentally different that they’re essentially alien to each other has been thoroughly debunked.

But more recently, another split has been introduced into pop culture. That is the idea that introverts and extroverts are hugely different and almost represent two different species.

If you read articles about one or the other, it’s almost like you’re reading manuals on how to interact with forest gorillas or socialize with tigers.

The truth is, though, that psychologists view extroversion as a scale with 100% introverts and extroverts on the ends being nothing more than hypothetical extremes. We’re all human and are a lot more similar than we are different.

Still, there are things that we can learn from interacting with people who are far away from us on the introversion-extroversion continuum.

So, let’s look at the major differences between these personality traits and then dive into eight things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other.

Introverts vs. Extroverts

This title makes it sound like there’s a Battle Royale brewing, but if that were the case, I’ll tell you who’d win. 

The extroverts, of course!

The introverts would likely stay home.

All joking aside, we can definitely pick out some features of people who are more introverted and more extroverted.

Introverts

Let’s simply define introverts as people who are more introverted than extroverted.

Few people have no extroversion at all, so we’re just talking about which way their behavior leans.

In general, introverts like having a small number of close friends. They tend to seek less stimulation and they like to recharge and reflect quietly, often on their own. 

They can find social situations difficult and tiring as they have exaggerated thinking about these situations and have a tendency to withdraw.

Introverts like to be independent and don’t usually like being the center of attention. They value deep, meaningful experiences.

Extroverts

On the other side of things, extroverts are people who have more of the following tendencies.

They prefer to have large social networks and actively engage new people to increase them. They work well in teams and enjoy crowds because they feel energized in social situations.

Extroverts have reduced thinking about social situations and prefer to dive in rather than sit back and analyze them. They value having lots of broad experience over having small numbers of deep ones.

Ambiverts

A new word in psychology is the concept of the ambivert

Like being ambidextrous, an ambivert shows a real balance between introverted and extroverted traits. Since these traits are seen as being on the same spectrum, ambiverts are people who fall right in the middle.

You probably know exactly where you fall on the scale, but if you’re not sure, you can always take one of many online tests.

Free questionnaire-based tests like this one ask you to report on your own behavior, so they’re not exactly scientific, but they’ll give you a pretty good idea of where you fall on the spectrum.

Full disclosure: I’m a writer who normally works alone, so it’s probably no surprise that I ended up on the somewhat introverted side!

What can introverts learn from extroverts?

someone is secretly angry phrases 8 things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other

1) Being in the spotlight

For most introverts, being in the spotlight means being exposed.

If you’ve ever had one of those weird dreams where you’re naked in public, you’ll understand the feeling that introverts feel when they’re suddenly thrust to the forefront.

These are people who don’t like to make a big deal about their birthdays or stand up and make speeches in front of large groups.

But introverts can learn something from the people who don’t mind being the center of attention whatsoever.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you certainly have skills and accomplishments that you can be proud of.

However, while extroverts are a lot more comfortable talking about these things with others, introverts typically aren’t.

And this can mean that they lose out.

If they have businesses, they may not promote them effectively but instead, just wait for customers to walk through the door.

They may not talk enough about their achievements and skills in job interviews, leading interviewers to select candidates who promote themselves better.

So this is a skill that introverts can learn from extroverts.

There’s no need for falsification or exaggeration here. And talking about your skills and accomplishments doesn’t show arrogance as long as what you say is true.

2) Collaborating effectively

Most introverts are reluctant collaborators.

I remember the creeping feeling of frustration I always felt at school when I felt a group project coming up.

For me, this was always an unfair situation that made other people responsible for my marks. For me, collaboration meant compromising my own ideas even if I was very confident in them

And if there was someone in the group who was lazy or didn’t do their part of the work, we’d all suffer.

I would much rather be judged on my own merits, thank you!

But now I realize that I was missing out on a lot of the other aspects of collaboration that group tasks offered.

A big one was listening to other people’s contributions and learning things from them. There are always ideas and opinions in a group that you’ll never encounter or consider if you stay in your own bubble.

Another was learning how to advocate for my own ideas. In these situations, I would often clam up if my ideas were rejected, even though I was sure they had merit.

Then, I’d feel bitter that I wasn’t being heard rather than learning how to make myself heard in a group.

3) Sticking to small talk

Extroverts are much better at keeping conversations light than introverts are.

In general, introverts like to talk about things that have more substance. When they do decide to talk to new people, they do so because they want to gain deeper experiences and find connections.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are happy to leave things quite light and friendly when they meet new people.

They look for connections to happen naturally and are perfectly happy with more superficial connections.

So you didn’t become lifelong friends with that person, but you made a useful business contact, so well done!

That’s how extroverts think, and it’s something introverts can learn from.

There are eight million people in the world these days, so it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that you won’t click with most of them.

But that also doesn’t mean that knowing them won’t be useful.

4) Being socially adventurous

Introverts tend to like to stick to their small circles and some find meeting new people really exhausting and intimidating.

This can make them less socially adventurous and less likely to try new experiences with new people.

Extroverts, on the other hand, are much more interested in trying more experiences and meeting more people. This often helps them broaden their horizons, while introverts can find themselves stuck in their social comfort zones.

Learning to step out of them and take risks by interacting with more new people is something introverts can learn that will enrich their lives.

What can extroverts learn from introverts?

phrases lack of empathy 8 things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other

5) Listening effectively

If you know someone who is a great listener, there’s a very good chance that they’re an introvert.

As we already saw, introverts are a lot less likely to seek the spotlight than extroverts. That helps them to take more of a back seat in conversations.

Extroverts often try to dominate conversations both because they’re more comfortable in the spotlight and because they find them exciting and energizing.

They can get carried away and end up doing most of the talking.

Introverts like to listen to what other people say and give it more thought. They’re also more prone to thinking before they speak, while extroverts often think out loud, saying things that may be better left in their heads.

So extroverts can learn the skill of effective listening from introverts.

They can tell themselves to even just take a few breaths before they jump into the conversation with the next thing on their minds. They’ll find that this makes it easier to focus on what the other person is saying.

6) Practicing mindfulness

According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is “awareness of one’s mental states and surroundings.”

It’s easier for introverts to be mindful, mostly because they spend more time on their own but also because they automatically think more in social situations.

Extroverts tend to focus their thoughts outward into the world, and this takes the form of expression.

Introverts focus their thought more internally, taking the form of reflection.

Both are obviously important.

Extroverts can learn from introverts to turn more of their attention inward. While they are always on the go and searching out stimulation and new experiences, if they don’t stop to reflect on these experiences, they may find it hard to learn from and appreciate them.

So if extroverts push themselves to take time for mindfulness, for examining their own thought and feelings instead of letting them simply flow by, they’ll find lessons in them that are worth learning.

7) Respecting boundaries

In psychological terms, extroversion is one of the Big Five personality traits that we can focus on when we want to understand other people.

Temperature measures how much heat there is somewhere, and we call a lack of heat “cold”.

By the same token, psychologists often examine how extroverted a person is and call someone with low extroversion “introverted.”

The reason I’ve put it in these terms is that asking an extroverted person to do something that’s characteristically introverted isn’t the same as the opposite.

Extroverts may feel that quiet alone time is boring, but they won’t dread it the way that some introverts dread things like public speaking or schmoozing at cocktail parties.

While both sides might have difficulty understanding each other, introverts rarely try to push extroverts into introverted activities.

But the opposite?

“Just come to the party. You’ll have fun!” “Get up there and sing one karaoke song. It’ll be great!”

It’s important for extroverts to learn that introverts don’t enjoy social activities in the same ways that they do. Sometimes, it’s true that they’ll have fun trying these things, but more often, they truly don’t.

Pushing introverts into situations when they’re forced into the spotlight stomps on their boundaries, and it’s something extroverts should learn not to do.

8) Valuing quiet

Introverts don’t simply stay home alone all the time. 

Just because they’re not intensely social doesn’t mean that they don’t have hobbies and activities that they love, like running, hiking, crafts, and reading. But if you look closely, you’ll see that introverts spend a lot more of their time quietly than extroverts do.

Introverts will go out and experience the quiet of nature by hiking deep into the forest (they’re also statistically more likely to be eaten by bears, though). They’ll sit quietly in a park and paint the beautiful landscape in front of them.

Conversely, extroverts with similar interests will prefer team sports and drawing caricatures of people on the street.

See the differences?

Quiet activities can help extroverts slow down and process their experiences. Reducing your level of simulation can also help you get in touch with your feelings and focus on gratitude, so it’s definitely not all bad!  

Final thoughts

With these eight things introverts and extroverts can learn from each other, everyone is a winner.

Not only will they help us all improve our skills and understanding of ourselves, but they also help us understand the people who are different from us.

In the end, we’ll realize that no one’s an alien, and we’re all the same species after all!

Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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