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Stop the Fighting: Bridging the Communication Gap

Introvert vs ExtrovertAre your frustrated with your spouse?  Do you feel like they just don’t listen? Do you feel like you talk and talk and say nothing? Do you feel like you talk and talk and they never hear you? Trust me you are not alone.

Ironically, all those arguments and frustration, might come down to something very simple: one of you is an extrovert and one of you is an introvert.  Introverts and Extroverts are like PC’s and Mac’s.  Both do similar things but in very different ways.

One of the best ways to bridge the communication gap is to understand where your partner is coming from.  To have some curiosity about their world and how they might see it totally differently.  If a mac person had to sit down at a PC they would have a definite learning curve. Below I have spelled out the common traits of Introverts and Extroverts as well as some tips for interacting with your opposite personality type.

Common trait of Extroverts

  • Gain energy from being around other people. They go to a party and want to keep on going because other people feed them.
  • While they enjoy being alone, if they have to spend too much time alone the can get worn out or depleted
  • Think out loud so if they need to plan an idea or have a problem they want to talk it all through with someone.
  • Enjoy large groups and often appear gregarious and social.
  • Enjoy background noise. Usually is listening to the Radio or TV when home alone.

Common traits of Introverts.

  • Gain their energy from being alone.
  • They can go out and be in the world and can be quite social but then need time to regroup and be alone
  • Tend to think before they talk so thinking out loud can be a challenge. If they are talking about a subject matter that they haven’t had time to process internally–they will have long pauses between words.
  • Can appear shy or socially awkward but really they are just uncomfortable in large groups and prefer talking one-on-one.
  • Enjoys quiet.

Tips for an Introvert acting with an Extrovert:

  • Understand that Extroverts process out loud–give them room to talk and process.
  • Because they process out loud every idea or thought they say isn’t going to be acted upon or used.
  • Compliment the Extrovert in front of others.
  • Respect their independence and encourage their enthusiasm (even if you can’t match it)

Tips for an Extrovert acting with an Introvert

  • Have patience–remember they aren’t going to talk as quickly as you do. Don’t interrupt their thinking process.
  • Introverts need more physical space when they interact, it might be helpful to give them more space or sit side by side with them.
  • Introverts can interact without making full contact (and sometimes prefer it if they topic is intense). It is ok to talk about something without looking directly at each other.

Commonly when we are interacting with someone who is the opposite of us we tend to judge them or shame them into being just like us, which only makes the problem worse.  What we need to do is bring some understanding and curiosity to the table, both for ourselves and our partners.

Interesting website that might be helpful:

Myers Briggs websites
http://live-happier.com/who-are-you/
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2012/01/24/five-tips-for-a-great-introvert-extrovert-relationship
http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.asp
http://themetapicture.com/how-to-interact-with-the-introverted/

Enneagram Personality Assessment
http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/Tests_Battery.asp#FreeShortTests

I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Has being an introvert or extrovert influenced your relationships? How have you dealt with the difference in communication styles.

One Response to Stop the Fighting: Bridging the Communication Gap

  1. I am so thankful that I learned that I was an introvert! I always thought I should change and I did try!!! I was a pseudo extrovert! Now I just accept that I am an introvert! I can now live happier!