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Advanced Tips for Extroverts: How to Harness Extroversion

Learn how to take advantage of your natural tendencies as an extrovert, including how to develop better relationships with the introverts in your life. 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is An Extrovert” 

“Gentlemen, this is a football.” 

That famous quote by Coach Vince Lombardi came from the first day of training in 1961. He was addressing the Green Bay Packers, who had played in the championships the previous season. 

In order for those athletes at the peak of their professional careers to advance, they went back to the fundamentals. And so, that is where we’ll begin today. 

What is an Extrovert?

An extrovert is someone who derives energy from interacting with other people. 

That’s it. 

As you’d expect, this means they tend to prefer environments where this is an option, particularly at parties and social gatherings. It can range from a fascinating one-on-one conversation with a friend to feeling slightly buzzed coming home from a concert or sporting event. 

There is nothing about extroverts that makes them inherently better at socializing—they just tend to like it more. 

This interest in engaging with others can be harnessed as a valuable skill for interacting at work and socially. The first thing is understanding the other types of people you may encounter. 

The Other “Verts” (Introverts and Ambiverts)

An introvert is a person who gets energy from spending time alone or in small groups. They maintain energy reserves by limiting large group activities and instead prefer to interact one-on-one or in small groups. 

Now, there are other aspects that tend to go along with being an introvert. Because they need time alone to gain energy, introverts gravitate toward solitary activities like reading or writing. They also tend to be more thoughtful and may take longer to respond to questions or comments. 

(We’ll talk more about why later on. Spoiler alert: introverts have a LOT going on in their brains). 

But notice there is nothing in there about how much they enjoy interacting with others or how well they communicate or engage. Both introverts and extroverts can be excellent at conversation.  

The truth of the matter is that most people don’t land at the ends of the scale. The majority of people will end up somewhere in the middle. Ambiverts, as they are called, need some degree of social interaction and some degree of solitude to satisfy their needs.

How Are Extroverts Different Than Introverts?

The Introvert Advantage proposes several physiological differences between introverts and extroverts. 

Dopamine sensitivity 

The book suggests extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine1, a “feel good” neurotransmitter that controls excitement and helps a person pay attention and learn new information. The result is that extroverts tend to seek out novelty and can’t stand repetition to supply enough dopamine to enjoy a sense of pleasure from dopamine. 

Introverts, on the other hand, are in the category of “low-novelty seekers.” Because of their sensitivity to dopamine, they get a similar level of satisfaction out of quieter activities. The other side is that introverts are more likely to have a dopamine overload with activities an extrovert would find exhilarating. 

Blood Flow in the Brain

Other research2 did a PET brain scan of extroverts and introverts who were allowed to think freely. The results made several findings: 

  • Extroverts’ blood traveled through a shorter circuit that included “visual, auditory, touch and taste (excluding smell) sensory processes” and therefore were more focused on what was happening around them externally.   
  • Introverts have more blood flow in their brains than extroverts.
  • The path that blood takes in an introvert’s brain is longer and more complex. 
  • Introverts’ blood traveled through areas “involved with internal experiences like remembering, solving problems, and planning.” 


The book says that these different dominant pathways between extroverts’ and introverts’ brains use different neurotransmitters – energy-spending dopamine and adrenaline for extroverts and energy-saving acetylcholine for introverts.  

An image of two brains that shows different dominant pathways between extroverts' and introverts' brains.


Memory Storage 

Extroverts’ brains send information through the temporal and motor area, which is responsible for short-term memory. In short, an extrovert will have a lot to say on a topic while it is being discussed but is relying on short-term memory to respond rather than long-term memory. 

For introverts, on the other hand, information is processed through the hippocampus, which relays the information to long-term memory. Remember that scene in Disney’s Inside Out with all the shelves of memory? 

Yeah, that’s where pretty much everything goes – appointments, hobbies, favorite foods, etc. And in order to retrieve that information, introverts need a trigger or key to unlock it. New information is processed, analyzed, and connected to previous experiences. 

The result is that when an introvert hears, “Let’s go to dinner. What kind of food do you like?” the answer could genuinely be “I don’t know” because the information is currently locked away in long-term storage. 

So, if you are an extrovert wanting to talk to an introvert, try this: Next time you as someone a question and they don’t respond immediately, silently count to 10 before asking a follow-up or even making another comment. The person you’re talking to may just need more time to process their response. 

Harnessing Your Extroverted Tendencies

Research indicates that extroverts enjoy distinct advantages3 in the workplace. 

The first is a greater motivation to achieve positive goals. The second is extroverts tend to have more positive emotions in the workplace, which can be a buffer against stressful situations. The third advantage is that extroverts’ natural desires to socialize and network build strong interpersonal relationships. Finally, extroverts tend to have better job performance, perhaps as a result of the other advantages. 

As an extrovert, you naturally seek out opportunities to interact with other people. By being actively observant of those around you, you can improve the social and work experiences of those around you, particularly for your introverted friends and co-workers.

While we’re going to talk about the two ends of the introvert-extrovert spectrum interacting, remember that it’s a continuum. You may find a suggestion that consistently works well for a highly introverted person but only works some of the time for an ambivert. The important part is communicating openly and encouraging an environment that is supportive of all personalities. 

The Introvert–Extrovert Scale at Work

Consider the suggestions below to make the most of your co-workers’ preferences and natural tendencies for a more productive work environment.  

  • Communicating: Interacting with introverts through writing allows them the opportunity to engage that powerful long-term memory and compose an answer without the added pressure of someone staring them down or interrupting their thinking. Extroverts, on the other hand, love opportunities to chat and bounce ideas off other people. 
  • Meetings: If you have a team full of extroverts, chances are they love the chance to get together for meetings. For introverts, it’s helpful for them to be able to prepare for interactions mentally. So if you need to discuss something with an introvert, and it can be done by email, shoot them a message. If they need the information from a meeting but don’t need to report anything, send them minutes by email. If it’s important for you to talk with them in person, give them a heads-up so they can mentally prepare for the interaction.
    • For example: “Hey Ron – I just got the report back from Rachel, and I need some clarification on the expected sales next quarter. Can we meet at 3:00 today to talk about it?”
  • “Just dropping by”: For introverts, interruptions to workflow can be not only an unwelcome distraction from the project they are focused on but requires more energy from them to maintain a conversation. Save the water cooler chat for the other extroverts who also hang out over there, hoping for a few minutes to charge their batteries. 
  • Make an agenda: As we’ve discussed, introverts’ neural processing is longer and more complicated than extroverts. Providing (and sticking to!) an agenda allows introverts a head start on thinking about the topics that will be addressed. They can come to the meeting having taken the time to collect all that lovely information they have naturally organized in their long-term memory. It can also help keep extroverts on topic. The agenda doesn’t need to be complicated.
    • For example Marketing strategy meeting
      • Report from Andy on potential clients contacted
      • Discuss the next steps for successful contacts 
      • Brainstorm additional potential clients from the education field
  • Ask for input: Extroverts will often be eager to give their opinion. Introverts are less likely to offer unsolicited input to a conversation. If you are running a meeting, you can make sure that everyone in the room has a chance to give input on the topic.
    • For example: “Tony, you’ve been working closely with the client. How do you think they are going to react to this?”
    • For video meetings, consider using the chat bar or hand raise feature in addition to people speaking up.  
  • Be aware of “topic derail”: While extroverts can have a tendency to bounce from topic to topic or “derail” the conversation, introverts are generally more methodical thinkers. When talking with introverts, discuss one topic at a time, then ask for input. This offers introverts some time to process their thoughts and formulate an answer. 
  • Conversation flow: It’s very tempting for extroverts to ask multiple questions in a row or jump in and finish someone else’s sentence once they think they know where it’s going. Not only is this poor manners, but it also robs the speaker of the chance to express their thoughts and the listener of additional insights the speaker was formulating. Introverts are more likely to continue speaking if they don’t feel pressured to finish. Try asking one question, then counting to ten in your head. See if it changes the quality of your conversations with others. 
  • Ask others how they prefer to receive praise: Extroverts and introverts tend to prefer different methods of receiving praise. For an extrovert, they may love being acknowledged publicly for their work. On the other hand, it’s probable an introvert will prefer to receive praise in a one-on-one setting. Hearing their name called in front of a large audience would more likely create anxiety, not pleasure. However, that’s not always the case. Take time to discuss each person’s preference, and focus on those methods for expressing your appreciation. 

How to Engage With Introverts Who Are Your Friends

Many of the tips discussed above are valuable for social as well as work relationships. 

But there are some things to keep in mind if you have introverted friends in your social circles. 

Extend Invitations

While introverts have to be more careful of how much they commit to in order to avoid burnout, that’s not the same as being uninterested in social events. They may appreciate an invitation, especially knowing they have a friend who will be there. 

For example, you might say, “Hey! I was talking with Lyndsey and Dev about a theater troupe from London performing Romeo and Juliet next month. I know you’ve got your sister’s wedding coming up too, but would you be interested in coming?” 

Give Details 

Introverts who are self-aware will often budget their energy to balance the work, family, and social demands on them. For example, if an introvert has friends coming to stay for the weekend, they may decline social invitations the day or two leading up to and following the visit. The more they know about the nature of the event, the better they can prepare mentally and emotionally in order to enjoy it as much as possible. 

When extending an invitation, try to give as many relevant details as possible such as how many people are going to be there, how long it is expected to last, and if anyone they know is planning on coming. 

Offer One-On-One Time

Introverts tend to be more comfortable in one-on-one and small-group situations. If you’re looking for ways to get to know your friend better, invite them to join you for an activity you both enjoy. Maybe it’s going out to dinner, shopping at the mall, or to a chocolate shop for dessert. 

One-on-one time can also apply during larger social events. If you see an introverted friend sticking to the side of the room observing the party, you have a couple of options.

You could grab them and drag them into the middle of a large group of strangers. This will likely end up with them feeling uncomfortable and less willing to engage in the conversation. 

Alternatively (and much more recommendable), you can go over to them and start a private conversation. That said, it’s important to note they’re not on the sidelines because they feel lonely or left out but are enjoying people-watching and taking in a remarkable amount of data about the people they observe.

Substance Over Small Talk

Knowing introverts don’t like small talk, what can you discuss with them? Lots of things! Here are a few ideas: 

  • Books, movies, and TV shows
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Personal values and beliefs
  • Travel
  • Current events and social issues

Pro Tip: When chatting with an introvert, avoid asking the question, “Do you have any exciting plans this week/end?” Their idea of an enjoyable time may not be the definition of “exciting,” but they’re looking forward to it nonetheless. Instead, try asking an open-ended question like “What plans do you have this weekend?”

Recognize Their Social Bandwidth

Take a moment and think about a few different scenarios an introvert might find themselves in: 

  • Sally works 40 hours a week, then comes home to three kids and a spouse. 
  • Peter is a college student who attends large classes, works at a restaurant, and lives in an apartment with 3 other guys. 
  • Annie is a single young professional who works from home, lives alone, and attends exercise classes a few nights a week

Now think about the difference in the amount of time each of these people has to him- or herself in a given week. Imagine that each of them was the exact same degree of introversion. Each has friends who want to see them, but Sally or Peter is likely to be more drained at the end of the week than Annie. 

Now, imagine they all have five close friends they really enjoy visiting with. An extrovert with five friends may text them all and say, “Let’s have a game night at my place!” and see everyone in a two-hour window. 

However, Sally, Peter, or Annie are more likely to reach out to each of those five friends separately and plan an hour-long, one-on-one get-together with each of them. It now took them five hours to see the same number of people. 

If your introvert friend tells you they can’t accept an invitation, accept the decision graciously. They don’t owe you an explanation of why. If they say, “I’m busy,” and what they really mean is, “I’m totally drained, and if I have to make small talk with one more person, I’m going to explode, so I’d much rather climb into my PJs and read a book,” that’s a perfectly valid reason to decline an invitation. 

Being aware of the whole scope of the demands on an introvert’s energy can help recognize why they may have to decline invitations, even for things that interest them.

Introvert Myth Busters

Do you know the show Mythbusters?

Let’s play our own round of Introvert Mythbusters! 

Myth: Introverts are shyer and socially awkward.

As discussed, introversion is a personality type, while shyness is a fear-based emotion4,so%20nervous%2C%20they%20become%20sweaty.. It’s entirely possible to meet an introvert who is shy or socially awkward, but plenty of socially awkward extroverts are out there! And there are plenty of introverts who are outgoing and well-spoken in social settings. MYTH BUSTED.

Myth: Introverts don’t enjoy social events. 

Introverts can certainly enjoy attending social events, though their reasons and approach can differ from extroverts. They are more likely to prefer smaller gatherings. They may also be more drawn to activities that specifically align with their own interests and hobbies rather than a party for the party’s sake. 

That said, introverts enjoy having deep relationships and are often willing to participate in events they might otherwise avoid in order to support a friend or family member. MYTH BUSTED. 

Myth: Introverts attend fewer social events. 

Since introverts get their energy from being alone or in small groups, a self-aware introvert WILL limit the number of social events they commit to. It allows them to enjoy the ones they attend rather than get burned out. They are also more likely to prefer one-on-one interactions over large events. MYTH CONFIRMED!

Myth: Introverts don’t like to talk.

More accurately, introverts don’t like small talk. Their preference is to build deep relationships with a small group of individuals. While they may be less likely to talk at a large event or to someone they only know superficially, introverts who feel comfortable are entirely capable of talking an ear off! MYTH BUSTED.

Myth: Introverts and extroverts won’t get along. 

While introverts and extroverts have fundamentally different personality types and styles of communicating, they can also complement each other in many ways. If you find the proper rapport, and respect each other’s communication styles, having an other-vert friend can bring lots of opportunities to try new things. MYTH BUSTED!

Harness Those Social Superpowers!

Any healthy relationship is based on communication and understanding. While these tips can be a helpful guide for the general tendencies of introverts and extroverts, it’s important to take the time to understand each person you’re interacting with as an individual. Strong relationships include understanding the other person’s boundaries and preferences. 

Introversion and extroversion are just one aspect of someone’s personality and shouldn’t be used to generalize or make assumptions about them.  

As we’ve discussed, extroverts replenish energy by interacting with others, while introverts gain energy by being alone. Research shows that introverts’ and extroverts’ brains are different in several ways, including sensitivity to dopamine, blood flow, neural pathways, and memory storage.

In work environments, being aware of others’ introversion or extroversion allows you to take advantage of the natural strengths each person brings to the team. 

When interacting socially with an introvert, feel free to extend invitations to social events, including relevant details for them to make their decision, and know that a self-aware introvert may need to turn down invitations in order to budget their energy levels for competing demands in their work, home, and social life. 

One great strength of extroverts is their interest in and desire to interact with others. You can use that to your advantage and embrace the novelty of learning about new people. Introvert friends can be wonderful listeners who offer unique perspectives and look to build deep, meaningful relationships.

If you’re ready for more ideas on how to talk to introverts, check out 30 Great Conversation Starters For Introverts

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