Take, for example, introverts and extroverts. Introverts are often overlooked by extroverts because they are quiet. The assumption is that they don’t have anything to offer. After all, if they’re not saying anything or participating in a conversation, this could be the logical conclusion.
There’s a quote by Stephen Hawking: “Quiet people have the loudest minds,” that I think sums up what’s going on for introverts. We may be quiet, but there is a LOT going on in our minds. We tend to think a lot, and think deeply. We listen, we process information. It’s rare that an introvert will simply say what’s on their mind, because there’s just so much going on in their mind.
Introverts find it difficult to interrupt, so if there’s a lot of talking going on, with no natural gap and they are not invited to speak, they may not say anything, or they may be drowned out if they do try to speak. I’ve had all of these experiences and it’s sometimes exhausting to try to get a point across with all the other conversation going on.
There can also be a sense, if you’re with a group of people and not saying anything that you may be judging the others in the group, or that you may somehow feel you’re better than them. When I discovered this it was a shock to me because I’m often quiet in groups, which doesn’t mean I’m not participating. I’m usually listening and absorbing what’s going on – the last thing I’m doing is judging others.
But introverts aren’t the only ones who can be misunderstood. I think often introverts see extroverts as being loud, with an inability to listen. They can also be thought of as being needy (needing frequent attention and validation). In their enthusiasm to get their point across their behavior may even be perceived as inconsiderate at best or bullying at worst.
Yet I know many extroverts who are very smart, caring and thoughtful people. I see their ability to communicate with others as a real gift. I admire anyone who can walk up to someone they don’t know and engage in conversation. They tend to be enthusiastic, motivated and usually have high energy. But they also need their downtime and alone time.
I think too the assumption that extroverts aren’t good listeners is not true. If they know you have something to say they will listen, but if you are quiet they will assume you don’t have anything to say.
This is just one example of how differences can be misinterpreted and misunderstood. All of us have something to offer, and wouldn’t it be helpful if we took a little more time to understand each other and embrace the gifts of each trait? And sometimes it’s up to us to do something if we’re feeling misunderstood, rather than simply complaining about it.
Introverts – don’t dismiss extroverts as loud and uncaring, and extroverts – don’t dismiss introverts as having nothing to offer.
Action Step: Think about a situation where you may be feeling misunderstood. What could you do to help change someone’s perception of you? If there’s someone you know who is very different from you and you find it hard to understand their behavior, what could you do in an effort to better understand them?
Let this Unstoppable Affirmation support you on your journey:
I accept myself as I am, I accept others as they are and treat everyone with respect.
P.S. Introverts - watch this short video with 3 strategies that will help you step up and be heard.