What’s really happening when an introvert and extrovert talk {Quote of the Week}

If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably had this experience: an extrovert dominates the conversation and you can’t get a word in edgewise. You walk away thinking the extrovert is rude or self-absorbed. If you’re an extrovert, you’ve probably experienced a different problem: it seems like the introvert has nothing to say, so she appears disinterested or snobbish.

What’s really happening when an introvert and extrovert talk? Laurie Helgoe, in her book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, explains:

While the introvert is reflecting on the question (thinking first), the extrovert takes this as an invitation to fill the void (talking first). As long as the introvert doesn’t interrupt, the extrovert continues to fill the interpersonal space with talk. But as long as the extrovert talks, the introvert can’t think and stays mute. Mute means the invitation is still open, and continued talk assures that the introvert remains mute. By the time the extrovert pauses to ask, the introvert’s head is pounding and he or she just wants to get out so she can think. The extrovert just assumes the introvert had nothing to say, and moves on.

If you’re an introvert, remember that occasionally interrupting an extrovert is okay — in fact, most extroverts enjoy this lively, tug-of-war style of conversation. If you’re an extrovert, remember that introverts need more time than you to verbalize their thoughts. Try giving the introvert “space” in the conversation. You might be surprised at how talkative the introvert becomes!

Are you an introvert? What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. Jenn is a contributor to Psychology Today, HuffPost, Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution, Upworthy, The Mighty, The Muse, Motherly, and a number of other outlets. She has appeared on the BBC and in Buzzfeed and Glamour magazine. Jenn started Introvert, Dear because she wanted to write about what it was like being an introvert living in an extrovert's world. Now she's on a mission: to let introverts everywhere know it's okay to be who they are.