Shut Up and Sit Down: A Guide for Extroverts by Tonya Nagle, PhD
There are so many guides on the internet for Introverts, I feel like Extroverts are getting left out. It’s not like you don’t face your own set of challenges in social settings. Where an introvert may be afraid to speak up, extroverts may actually be afraid to be quiet. These are some basic tips to help you find your inner calm and regulate that energetic side of you that may be turning people off to your real qualities.
Extroverts are often fueled by situations where they can shine: office meetings, parties, social events of any sort. The more people paying attention, the more the internal battery gets charged. Unfortunately, if you are not self-aware, and you don’t have a good friend or significant other there to assist, you may be totally oblivious to the fact that you are turning people off.
Ever been the life of the party only to realize you didn’t actually make any new contacts? Ever found yourself dominating a meeting and watching your co-workers start to find their teeth, shift in their seats, checking the phone, maybe even text someone? Ever find yourself talking so much and so fast that people can’t get a word much less a question in?
It isn’t a bad thing to be an extrovert. Trust me, there are so many people out there wishing they were like you. It can be a debilitating thing to be an extrovert if you are not able to manage it. Just like an introvert gets anxiety to jump in, extroverts get anxiety to sit this one out. What if they don’t think I am funny or entertaining anymore? What if they start to doubt that I know my job well because I’m not making sure they are aware of it? What if someone asks a question mid thought or sentence and I can’t get back on track after?
Breathe, extrovert. It is going to be okay.
1. Start by practicing patience with yourself. If you have always had a lot of energy when you are around others and feel your best when you are interacting, it can be tough to share the
spotlight. Don’t give it up completely! Just share it.
2. Get a support network. I know it sounds crazy, but just like in a timed speech, having a friend, significant other, or trusted co-worker with a signal can make you aware when you are
dominating a meeting or conversation. When you get the signal, don’t abruptly stop. Begin to slow down, take a breath, ask someone a question and let them answer. (Maybe ask that
introvert. After all, they need help getting engaged in conversation and you need a breath to prevent dominating one.)
3. Start to recognize your own overdrive tendencies. My signal is animation. I start to get very
animated with my gestures and body language. One co-worker once asked if I knew sign
language and when I said no, why, she explained that I was animating so much it looked like I did. As an instructor who has had people come into class to perform American Sign Language for actual students, this was both a revelation and a warning to me. I needed to monitor my level of energy and make sure my energy was not overriding the rest of the people in the room.
4. Share your passion with others. Extroverts are excellent at communicating when they learn how to share that energy and engage others. You have the ability to pay attention and multi-task in a social way. You can motivate people and re-energize them when they are feeling drained.
Being an extrovert is not always the gift all the articles on being an introvert make it out to be. When away from an audience, extroverts can feel drained. I always said when I get home from teaching seated classes that I feel exhausted because I was performing all day.
Yes, I loved it. I absolutely loved making those connections and watching those students light up with ideas and purpose. If I ran into a student between classes, the energy was right back in place. As soon as I was alone, instead of feeling re-charged, I would start to analyze everything. Did I cover this, did I forget that?
It took a while to get where I am today. I like to say I am an extroverted introvert. I like my alone time and I enjoy being with people. I feel comfortable in both settings. I know myself well enough to pay attention to my pace (how fast I am talking), volume, and animation when I am passionate about a topic or really having a great time with the group I am with.
I know enough about other people to reach out to those struggling to join the conversation and to gently ask outgoing students or friends to give others a chance to answer. It can feel like a curse, but you can use it as a gift. Choose wisely.
This article was previously published on Dharma Drops.