Understanding Others #2

As is often the way, since posting my thoughts about the power of understanding in my last blog I have seen the truth of that play out in a myriad of situations. I’ve seen it in the consequence of theabsence of understanding – the hurt, damage and frustration that comes from assumption and misunderstanding. And I’ve also seen its power to connect, heal and empower as the extra effort to understand another is rewarded with positive interactions and relational growth.

Maybe you’ve seen that at play in your own circumstances too?

That Solomon guy knew what he was talking about! (Prov 4:7)

When we start unpacking the differences of personality (and there are many) one is the distinction between being an INTROVERT or an EXTROVERT.

This is the description of how different people are energised. In short, an introvert gets energy from within (themselves) and an extrovert gets energy from without (others).

How do you know which you are? Here’s a test …

A day by yourself (no company, no talking, no crowds) sounds like
a) Bliss!
b) Punishment!

Ok, so that’s definitely the extremes of the scale – but you get the idea.

An introvert – gets energy from solitude. Being in larger social groups uses lots of energy – even if they find those environments enjoyable. That may be because of a lack of social confidence/capacity (so it takes a bit more energy to ‘keep up’) but that is not always the case. They work most productively and creatively in quiet environments, they are more likely to have hobbies or interests that they can do by themselves.

An extrovert – gets energy from others. In fact, not only do they get energy from being with others – they can be depleted of energy when they are alone. They work better in teams, they tend to be external/verbal processors, they are most productive and creative in collaborative situations and they are motivated by high energy social spaces.

Knowing which you are (and others around you) can provide some key understandings – and understanding, as we have established, can make all the difference.

Some things to consider …

  • The introvert is often misunderstood to be a loner or anti-social (they may be – but they may not!)
  • The extrovert can be misunderstood to be attention seeking or hyperactive (they also may be – but they may not!)
  • Given that the introvert’s gift to an extrovert is their presence and the extrovert’s gift to an introvert is their absence – it presents itself as a tension that needs to be managed. There will always be compromise required in friendship groups, marriages, families and work places to see that each gets what they need.
  • A person’s level of “outgoing-ness” is not automatically connected to whether they are an introvert or extrovert. A person can be very outgoing and confident in social settings but still require solitude to recharge. Likewise, a person could be quite shy and not necessarily a notable contributor to social situations but still draw energy from those environments. (And vice versa.)

Take a moment to consider the people around you – your family, your work colleagues, ministry team members, your spouse and your kids. Being aware of where they get their energy and what situations deplete it could help to understand them (and even yourself) more fully.

More in this series
Understanding Others #1
Understanding Others #3
Understanding Others #4

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