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Feb 28, 2019 00:07:50

Extrovert vs. introvert

by @vickenstein | 594 words | 🐣 | 218💌

Victoria Maung

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Total posts: 218💌
Total words: 55041 (220 pages 📄)

Maybe the elements of this dichotomy isn't an intrinsic, static personality trait.

Maybe it's more like a proxy measure for the proportion of our positive social interactions with negative ones. That, combined with underlying attitudes about other people, can strongly influence whether or not we enjoy spending time with others. 

For instance, when I'm talking to someone I don't like, I can understand that time feels dilated and that in likely to come out of that conversation less energized. But when someone else and I share a passionate conversation about our favorite television show, about an ethical quandary, or about how terrible the exam was, I tend to feel better. 

Most importantly, I've learned to perceive more social interactions as positive than negative in the last couple years of my life.

As a former "introvert" that today leans slightly more extrovert, I think the following traits I developed were paramount to the shift:

  • I used to be scared of sounding stupid, but today I've lowered my accuracy threshold for whether or not I speak out to 50%. I used to only speak up if I was 100% sure of my answer or could back up my answer with 100% watertight evidence. Now that's 50%, because sometimes nobody else speaks up or being wrong only leads to more conversion and further elucidation.
  • I tend to assume that sociable people would give me the benefit of the doubt if I make a mistake because I would treat them the same way. (If they don't, the person is probably not someone I want to associate with in the future, anyways.) I think it helps that I usually attempt to make my well-intentions known, in the way I ask a question or in the way I phrase a statement. And that comes from cultivating a sense of self-awareness  to read a conversation and diplomacy to hedge as needed, like if I realize that I'm entering a territory that I can't speak about in absolutes. 
  • When speaking with others, I usually start with a mental framework: a big picture about others' intentions. A classic when negotiating, but there likely exists common ground somewhere. If you can pick that up and frame your statements in a way that incorporates that common ground, whether it's a shared interest, goal, or moral conduct, that can help. This often is manifest by stepping back and looking at the big picture of a conversation, or the why.
  • Then with the urgency of a quarter-life crisis, I've learned to put aside my shame for potentially seeming selfishly ambitious. I used withhold asking questions or making statements because I didn't want to squander other people's time or make things about me. But then I've begun to realize that if you do so with a delicate balance, people are always willing to give advice and help out. Even if other people might look at you like you're kissing bum, who cares?
  • Lastly and most controversially, I've adopted a standard of dress and physique to keep me feeling confident. I dress as neutrally as possible (even though my personal preference is for bright, wacky colors). It's important to me that I feel like I fit in as to not distract from my words and personal character (at least in a professional setting). 

As a result of these shifts in attitude, I've begun to perceive more social interactions as positive than negative, even if the conversation is a rejection or dead-end. Having talked to a person at all is a positive experience for me, even if we agreed to disagree in the end.

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