Calm down introverts: you don't have to act extroverted

Even though I've done a good job of hiding it, I'm more extroverted than introverted. In fact, I'd say I rarely get to express that aspect of my personality (a rant that I'll get into in another post), but when I do get a chance to act how I really am, ie, talkative and extroverted, I'm quite happy.

But sometimes I meet people who are *too* extroverted, like they're trying too hard to act that way. I really like talking to outgoing people, but the folks I'm talking about seem to try too hard. Sometimes those people will tell me that they're really introverted, and I say I'm surprised. But upon further reflection, I'm really not because they seem to be over-compensating for their introversion. It's the forced behavior that makes me become more quiet, and those faux-extroverts will ask me why I'm like that, or they might make some snide remark to someone--or even me--about my deficiencies.

More than once I've talked to people who go out of their way to be really talkative and cheerful...like *too* cheerful, and I'll pretty much clam up and not say much because I'm not into phony conversation. I really am excited about stuff, but I don't want to have to manufacture such an attitude to match their hyped-up one. So what's happened is they'll say something disparaging to a common acquaintance about me. Some people might be appalled I didn't say much, or I seem cold and distant. Well if they would just take a breather, then I would say something, but they seem to go on to the next thing and want me to follow along. Basically, I'm the real deal, they're not, and they seem to be so wrapped up in creating their extroverted persona that they don't bother to discern my true one. Or sometimes they'll ask questions and we'll "talk" but they'll be so hopped-up they'll over-ask or over-talk and I feel like we're not connecting. Which probably also annoys them. I just want to say, "Calm down...be who you are. Then I'll talk more and you won't be annoyed with my reaction."

On the other hand, I've talked to people who are truly outgoing and are energized by people. I had a job where I'd sometimes have to talk to salespeople and other talkative folks, and I had a fantastic time. It was much easier to talk to them because they were sincere in their communication and were ready to interact with the world. Since I'm basically the same but didn't have as much chance to show that side of my personality, I was ready to participate and I think they enjoyed my side of the conversation, too.

So here's some advice to introverts: use your analytical powers to judge people, then talk to them accordingly. I don't know about what other true extroverts think, but being hyper and over-talkative and aggressive does not impress me; it makes me clam up and wonder what's up with you. There is nothing wrong with introversion, unless you are socially inept and don't know how to have a conversation with someone. Then you need training. But talking a bunch because you think that's what you're supposed to do makes you seem oblivious to social rules, and the resulting judgement when I don't respond how you want makes you seem super small-minded.

A while ago I worked with someone who talked a lot and barely listened...he seemed to talk too much to the point where another more extroverted coworker asked if he was dull-witted, or what was going on. I just said, "He's introverted," and the coworker understood: overcompensation.

If you act like yourself, a lot of people would probably appreciate you. And you don't have to smile all the time either. Calm down. There are all kinds of people in the world, and the more mature of us appreciate diversity.

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