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The extrovert introvert

Are you an extrovert introvert? I am.

Talking to a potential client earlier in the week about different behaviour styles, different working habits, and I commented that am very much an introvert. “Really?” she said. “I’d always thought of you as so outgoing – very extroverted.”

Well THAT made me pause in my tracks. I have always considered myself to be an introvert: reserved, a bit shy even, I get my energy from within, I enjoy being by myself, I think before I speak. But here this woman was saying that I came across as the complete opposite. How can that be? How can I be both? I KNOW that I AM an introvert. I have been interviewed for The Business of Introverts so that makes me an introvert, surely? Let’s look at the facts.

Introverts don’t do the big stage 

One of the reasons Holli had assumed I am an extrovert is because she has seen and heard me on stage. It’s a well-known fact isn’t it that introverts don’t do that. Whereas I love talking to a big audience. I’m comfortable presenting to a group of six or an audience of 600. I rarely get nervous. I have absolute confidence in my knowledge and ability to handle questions. I can stand up and talk at very short notice. I don’t need hours and hours and hours of preparation and rehearsal. I am calm and unflappable. If there’s a last minute technical hitch, I don’t panic.

Introverts don’t like talking to groups

I had great fun at my book launch talking to the mothers who attended about their own experiences; I really enjoy facilitating small groups, it’s one of my favourite ways of working with people; I love volunteering at my local Early Pregnancy Evening to talk about NCT to expectant parents; it is a big buzz when I have an exhibition stand and the opportunity to talk to women about their dreams, goals and journeys. My online conference The Confident Mother requires me to talk to 100s of women while I interview amazing experts – and it is a fantastic experience.

Introverts are scared to take action

I have a reputation for being an action-taker. I don’t sit back and wait. I want to get up and push forwards; to drive onwards and upwards. One of the reasons women love working with me is because I encourage them to take actions. To feel the fear and do it anyway (from Susan Jeffers). To make those big life-changing decisions and then do something about it.

But I need time to recover …

Yes I am very comfortable on stage. I have the confidence and inner strength to do that. Yes I enjoy talking to groups, running masterminds, facilitating workshops and interviewing experts. Yes I take action quickly and decisively. Yes these are all perhaps recognised as signs of an extrovert.

However …. I need time to recover. My energy comes from within. I don’t enjoy the ‘big’ networking events – I will often take 10 minutes ‘out’ during the event to replenish my energy (more tips here). I am reserved. I like time to think. I don’t speak up at a meeting for the sake of speaking; I only speak up if I feel I have something valuable to add. I have 100s of ‘friends’ and connections on Facebook, but in truth, I have very few close friends. I love spending time by myself. I love reflection. I love the library. I love the beach when it’s empty. I find peace in the still woods. I am a counsellor by training so I am very much a ‘people’ person but I much prefer working with small groups of people with whom I can develop a relationship and build a connection.

If you explore the Myers & Briggs definition of Extrovert vs Introvert, I am more Introvert than Extrovert although these terms mean something slightly different in psychology compared to the meaning in everyday language. Their definition is around how we direct our attention and focus, and where we derive our energy. Whereas in everyday language, we tend to think of extroverts as loud and outgoing party-lovers and introverts as shy and reserved, who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

The arrival of the extrovert introvert

Perhaps I am something new … the extrovert introvert. The Loner Wolf discusses The Extroverted Introvert, suggesting that many introverts wear an extroverted mask in order to be successful. The Science of People suggests we think of introvert and extrovert as a spectrum, with ‘ambivert‘ being the mid-point.

Maybe I am one of a new breed – or more likely, a new label.

When you have the expertise and confidence, absolutely the introvert can stand up and present on stage extremely well. When you are an introvert, you can network effectively when you focus on doing this in the way that is right for you. Being reserved does not prevent the introvert from taking decisive action. Yes we might reflect on those actions first but hey, that’s a positive. However it is important that if you are an extrovert introvert, that you look after yourself, take the time you need to recover, and celebrate the fact that you are an extrovert introvert.

What are you?

Leave a comment below and let me know whether you are introvert, extrovert or an extrovert introvert, and what makes you think so.

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Sherry Bevan

It can be hard to balance career and family. Sherry helps ambitious women get clear on what they really want, then find the confidence to do it.
If today's the day, you want to put your head in your hands and cry, know you are not alone. Why not check out these tips on how to cope with overwhelm.

Coach | Author | Speaker | Dog sitter
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