bborg

Question for extroverts

30 posts in this topic

So as background, over the past year and a half I’ve gone to a number of social events as a personal project to overcome social anxiety. Many of these have been happy hours that are organized by a very large meetup group in the DC area. In fact I’ve been to maybe a dozen or more happy hours over that period, as well as scavenger hunts at museums, movie get togethers and so on, each time pushing myself a little more to learn how to approach people in a crowd of strangers, and how to be more assertive about my own interests and values in conversation so I can enjoy myself.

Yet what I’ve observed with other people – mainly at happy hours, but to some extent at other events - is they’ll constantly move through the room meeting new people, and topics are quickly shifting to include others, so conversation remains pretty shallow. I would prefer to find someone I liked and just get to know them better, but that doesn’t seem to be the point.

I’m very introverted, I prefer intimate settings, and after meeting a lot of people I feel exhausted and need to recharge with quiet and solitude. So it’s really difficult for me to understand extroversion; I read recently that introversion and extroversion are as different as masculinity and femininity, and there might be truth to that. A happy hour feels very hollow to me, I always walk away wondering whether I got anything out of it, and I don't understand how people manage to make real connections that way.

If you consider yourself to have an extroverted personality, is this the kind of environment you like and why? What goal do you have going into it? I’m trying to figure out if it’s even possible for me to make friends this way, if our goals would be compatible enough for that. Or if I should focus on discovering some other path.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yet what I’ve observed with other people – mainly at happy hours, but to some extent at other events - is they’ll constantly move through the room meeting new people, and topics are quickly shifting to include others, so conversation remains pretty shallow. I would prefer to find someone I liked and just get to know them better, but that doesn’t seem to be the point.

I’m very introverted, I prefer intimate settings, and after meeting a lot of people I feel exhausted and need to recharge with quiet and solitude. So it’s really difficult for me to understand extroversion; I read recently that introversion and extroversion are as different as masculinity and femininity, and there might be truth to that. A happy hour feels very hollow to me, I always walk away wondering whether I got anything out of it, and I don't understand how people manage to make real connections that way.

If you consider yourself to have an extroverted personality, is this the kind of environment you like and why? What goal do you have going into it? I’m trying to figure out if it’s even possible for me to make friends this way, if our goals would be compatible enough for that. Or if I should focus on discovering some other path.

I understand exactly what you experience. However, what I have learned over the years is that the issue is not so much of personality, but of values. It may sound snobbish, but the majority of people don't have a clear set of values they can consciously express in conversation. Instead, they find it more comfortable to keep conversation on a shallow level, and sell themselves on a personality level. I have observed so many parties where it seems the only point is to use the opportunity to "strut one's stuff".

The fact that you are introverted should not clash with getting on with another like you. Neither should it with clash with an outgiong personality if the other parties can make touch with your values. Years ago, after hearing many others commenting about how "nice" certain people were, I wondered just what it was that they saw, that I didn't. My eventual conclusion was that invariably, the "nice" people never expressed an opinion, and thus those they met felt safe in their company. Let's face it, every opinion is going to upset someone, so if you want to be "liked," then keep it shallow. (I often joked that I had never met a "nice" person I liked. Con-men are notoriously likeable and popular.

My advice is to be yourself, and with due regard for the feelings of others, express your genuine opinions. That is the fastest way to rid yourself of the shallow people. Happy-hours are by nature brief encounters in a noisy setting. If you can involve yourself in an activity you enjoy, there is a chance to meet someone with your shared value.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Arnold. Be yourself and promote your important values, no matter how controversial. It will turn off most people and attract the women you would most like to get to know more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the advice, but I have made a couple of different observations.

While alot of people actually are quite shallow i've found many to be interesting if you scratch a little on the surface. Oftentimes they have the exact same problem as you do. They get stuck in mingling and meaningsless small talk. It's like a handshake and a "nice to meet you" followed by conversations about the weather. That kind of interactions can have it's place in showing others that you're friendly, open and putting them at ease. However, getting stuck there must be a dreary hell for any thinking individual. Most people will welcome a break from that circle of small talk. Well, atleast the ones you'll be interested in.

I'd like to add a bit of advice of my own there. Go there to get your needs met. After all, you're not there to fit in, to be liked and have lots of shallow friendships. You're there, i'm assuming, to connect with like-minded people. Show them who you are and what you want.

This leads me to the "nice guys". I don't think nice guys are actually liked. They're just regarded as harmless and rather meaningsless. As an introvert it's easy to fall into the "nice guy"-trap. I mean, you're trying to figure out how social interactions work. When they don't work perhaps you'll blame yourself for failing. Since you know social interactions are something you need to work on, adapting may seem like a reasonable thing to do. A nice guy is someone whos adapted by compromising his own personality, which is just making the social anxiety worse. He's trying to make every interaction run smooth, which is impossible, and any friction causes anxiety.

People don't really like nice guys, because there's nothing to like. A perfect nice guy is the one who just talks about the weather and bends over backwards to try and please everyone. To make actual friends you have to be open, honest and transparent. Show others who you are and what you value. It will cause friction and make enemies, but it will also give your kind of people a chance to know you and like you.

I'm not saying that as any kind of personal criticism. I don't know how you're actually going about interacting with people. I'm saying this simply to illustrate that asserting who you are is the only practical way to actually connect with others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It helps to have some opening lines that are half-way between small talk and important values like:

"Hi! I'm a [career choice]. What do you do?"

"Do you live around here? You just moved from [city]? Why did you decide to do that?"

"This is my first time coming here. I'm looking for someone who [values you want]. Do you think my odds are good finding that here?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that people aren't sharing values, but conversation keeps getting interrupted. I get the sense that people aren't even there to make friends, in which case maybe to save myself the frustration I should stop going.

It was suggested I could start a group of my own. It's something to try, at least, though I don't have any idea yet what to organize.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This blog post of mine might help: Ten Myths about Introverts.

I have stopped treating my introversion as a malady to be cured. Recently, I had an interesting experience of how that's been an improvement for me: Out at a karaoke show a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting with a group of people I know, all of whom I think of as "drama-mongers" (more commonly called "gossips," I would think). One of their major goals in human interaction appears to be to create strife and use it to garner attention for themselves. They were having an animated conversation, while I was looking up songs to sing on my phone. One of them turned to me and said, "Oh, sorry about that." I looked around to see what she might be talking about, and said, "For what?" She said that she had just made an insulting remark about my son. "I wasn't listening," was my reply, and she looked confused. I still don't know what she said, and still have no interest in finding out.

I had a really good time that night.

Don't sweat introversion, there's nothing wrong with it. For myself, I think it's extroverts who have a problem. I see them, in general, as far more secondhanded than I am. Just be who you are and do what you do, and you'll find the right people. Or ... you'll find that you've been with the right person all along, and that's more important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that people aren't sharing values, but conversation keeps getting interrupted. I get the sense that people aren't even there to make friends, in which case maybe to save myself the frustration I should stop going.

It was suggested I could start a group of my own. It's something to try, at least, though I don't have any idea yet what to organize.

You might opt for a group where you can meet interesting single women and have extended conversations but where the primary purpose is not to meet singles. Go for something like book discussion groups, hiking clubs, dining groups, art classes (!!), or other activity that sounds like fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that people aren't sharing values, but conversation keeps getting interrupted. I get the sense that people aren't even there to make friends, in which case maybe to save myself the frustration I should stop going.

It was suggested I could start a group of my own. It's something to try, at least, though I don't have any idea yet what to organize.

This may be the way to go. Betsy has come up with some good ideas to consider.

Other good places to meet people of both sexes are at debating or public speaking organizations. These generally cater for small groups so members have an opportunity to get to know one another, and they provide a legitimate platform for them to express their ideas and learn valued skills in a supportive environment. (Good public speakers are a rarity.)

Those who delight in food, a gourmet-cooking group might appeal. Participants usually work in pairs, and at the end they get to eat their culinary creation together in a pleasant setting – preferably with a fine wine!

I’m not sure that your disappointment in the social settings you attend is altogether linked to introversion or extroversion. My understanding is that the percentage of extroverts and introverts is far lower than those who fall somewhere between the two states. Perhaps many others attending these functions feel as disappointed as you do. Parties and happy hour settings can be draining/boring for those who prefer gatherings that are more intimate and intellectually satisfying.

Incidentally, I also think that a relationship between an introvert and an extrovert can work well when they share similar values. The one complements the other.

So, if you happen to meet Miss Vi Brant-Sparks, don’t pass her up too quickly – she could be a “keeper!” :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions. More intimate events are tougher to find, but I have been on the lookout. The other difficulty is finding an activity that gives me regular interactions with the same people, so I can actually get to know them instead of basing everything on first impressions and feeling like I have one chance to take down phone numbers. I found a pretty neat boardgaming group, for example, but they very rarely have a meeting where I can get to it. Same with the local Objectivist group (though most of the members really aren’t in my age range). Not that it’s not nice to go out and meet new people while doing something fun, but I need to find a group where I can get beyond introductions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Same with the local Objectivist group (though most of the members really aren’t in my age range).

Don't worry about the age range with Objectivist groups or at conferences. Just tell every Objectivist woman you meet, regardless of age or marital status, that you are looking for a serious relationship -- then stand back! We LOVE to match-make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, I've started dating myself -- matchmaking welcome -- and, so far, the best way to pre-screen and meet interesting potential partners outside of Objectivist events has been OKCupid.com. Check it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, well thank you but I didn’t intend for this to be about dating in particular. Right now I’m focused on just finding people – male or female – I can enjoy myself with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, I've started dating myself -- matchmaking welcome -- and, so far, the best way to pre-screen and meet interesting potential partners outside of Objectivist events has been OKCupid.com. Check it out.

Way to go! I hope you meet someone suitable.

My primordial fear (aside from getting Alzheimers disease) is ending up a widower. I am very weird and I was lucky to get my bride of 55 years. I am not sure I could get lucky again. Being the first to die does not bother me half as much as surviving my bride.

Fortunately I have enough children and grand children so I will not by by myself (ugh! alone is not good).

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am very weird and I was lucky to get my bride of 55 years. I am not sure I could get lucky again.

Buy a sports car . . . .

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

http://www.fabricegr...f-extroversion/

From one of my favorite blogger....

Shyness isn’t personality, it’s a fear and insecurity. Introverts can become shy, but so can extroverts. And you can overcome shyness and be more outgoing and comfortable with others, with work. But introversion and extroversion are basic temperaments, I don’t think they’re even primarily about social interaction but about sensitivity to stimulation. That’s why introverts need to recharge after being in a crowd of people, they get overwhelmed by the experience. I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking that, only from my own introspection, seems to hit the nail on the head in that respect.

I agree with what Piz said earlier about introversion not being a malady, and the book argues that for example the introvert’s high tolerance for solitude is what makes him naturally better suited for creative work. It isn’t something that you need to change, and maybe it can’t be changed.

But I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with extroverts, and because they are naturally attracted to external stimulation they develop different kinds of skills more easily. An interesting and disturbing observation from the book is the focus of our culture on forcing everyone to become extroverts. Not only does this not work, but it isn’t even desirable, since the world is better off having both kinds of people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shyness isn’t personality, it’s a fear and insecurity. Introverts can become shy, but so can extroverts. And you can overcome shyness and be more outgoing and comfortable with others, with work. But introversion and extroversion are basic temperaments, I don’t think they’re even primarily about social interaction but about sensitivity to stimulation. That’s why introverts need to recharge after being in a crowd of people, they get overwhelmed by the experience. I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking that, only from my own introspection, seems to hit the nail on the head in that respect.

I agree with what Piz said earlier about introversion not being a malady, and the book argues that for example the introvert’s high tolerance for solitude is what makes him naturally better suited for creative work. It isn’t something that you need to change, and maybe it can’t be changed.

But I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with extroverts, and because they are naturally attracted to external stimulation they develop different kinds of skills more easily. An interesting and disturbing observation from the book is the focus of our culture on forcing everyone to become extroverts. Not only does this not work, but it isn’t even desirable, since the world is better off having both kinds of people.

If I had a nickel for every extrovert who thought my introversion was a character flaw...

And that's the problem: in my experience, extroverts overwhelmingly really do think that something is wrong with introverts. Either that or they just don't pay any attention, being too busy interacting with other extroverts or dominating their interaction with introverts. It used to bother me, now I just observe for study for amusement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It helps to have some opening lines that are half-way between small talk and important values like:

"Hi! I'm a [career choice]. What do you do?"

"Do you live around here? You just moved from [city]? Why did you decide to do that?"

"This is my first time coming here. I'm looking for someone who [values you want]. Do you think my odds are good finding that here?"

I like this. I have a couple of additional things you might want to try. I observed this when I met two of my most recent friends.

Share something personal about yourself. And, break the rules a little bit.

The point is that people love to be at the recieving end of open and authentic communication. It also gives them a better idea of who you are. When you tell them something personal they also get a better idea of what you're comfortable with and they can answer in kind.

One thing worth trying is flat out telling people why you're at these social events. Let them know you're working to overcome your social anxiety and that you'd like to meet interesting people to make friends with. It's perhaps not the first thing to tell people, but make sure to put it out there. One of the friends I met told me she had just been through a tough divorce, and she was happy to finally come out and meet new people. I let her know I was single and looking for both new friends and women I could date. We decided to help each other out and had a blast going out dancing and meeting new people.

Breaking the rules can be a good way when people are too stiff and reserved. Often they are afraid to break the rules of etiquette. While good manners and etiquette are important, I think they should be there to help social interactions - not be in the way. One way to get past that can be to simply break the rules. Tell a daring joke or say something unexpected. With a little sense for timing and delivery people tend to loosen up and become alot more fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While your question was addressed to introverts, perhaps I can add something.

I too was pretty introverted. I have a slightly different take on it - my reaction to psychology books that said "there's nothing wrong with being introverted" was "yeah? You try it!", because it certainly gets in the way of things. You can get over it (possibly not entirely, but certainly enough) if that's what you want - just takes practice in putting yourself out there (basically, informal behavioural therapy!). Of course it takes time, but it can be done.

On the particular question of women, I actually found that the most effective way to find a mate was the internet. While there are a lot of frauds out there, you can screen far more people than at physical events. My policy agrees with what some others have said: I made my profile as explicitly philosophical as I could, with the deliberate intention of chasing away women who would be chased away. Worked, too :-)

Good luck with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hadn't visited the Forum in some time and then saw this thread that Bryson started, so I thought I'd respond with my own experiences.

I refer to myself sometimes as an introverted extrovert. I love my solitary existence and the mental time I give myself. It's a reason I love writing so much because I enjoy the idea of expressing ideas in a well thought out way, whereas those who must always be the social butterflies never give themselves that mental space.

That said I also love getting out and meeting people. My chosen career puts me in front of new people all the time and I have learned the art of good conversation even in fleeting circumstances. The international life I've lead also has meant that I have to make an extra effort to meet people while at the same time observing so I can absorb the new place I'm living in.

I think it's possible and valuable to be equal parts introvert and extrovert. Like Bryson, I don't enjoy mindless small talk, so I'm always on the lookout for people with whom I can engage in deeper conversation. My partner and I prefer smaller events where quality discussion is possible, as against noisy parties and nightclubs. I consider dinner parties the ideal way to socialize with others because you invite the people you care about most and you are more likely to have good conversations with them in a controlled environment.

Perhaps hosting your own dinner parties, Bryson, would be a way to be social with people you actually enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jason, the same is true for me. I like to spend time with people but only if they're my kind of people, and only in environments that don't suppress or overpower the intellectuality of each person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I generally choose situations where it's people I want to be around, but there are contexts where this isn't possible, such as company events or dinner parties where I don't know everyone. In each case, I look for people with whom I can have some level of meaningful conversation. One thing I immediately turn away from is angry or sneering types. They stick out like a sore thumb, I find, so I look for quick exits whenever they cross my path.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites