“God sent you here for me today. Your message was so inspiring.” Her golden hair sparkled in the sunlight streaming through the large east window. A pleasing perfume finished off her simply elegant, but trendy outfit. I guessed her age around twenty-eight.
Most of the tables in the posh country club were empty now, but she had stayed behind as the others left the ladies luncheon where I spoke.
You never know when something you say will strike a chord in someone’s soul — or what you said that touched them. She hugged me tight. “There’s someone I can’t seem to get along with, no matter how hard I try. She’s always got to be right, and of course she knows everything. You can’t get a word in.”
I understood. I’ve encountered that woman. Even worse, I’ve been her.
This is only one of the reasons I’ve studied human personality for almost twenty-five years, and became a certified trainer nearly a decade ago.
Whether I’m training a client’s employees or executive team, speaking at a conference, sharing for a women’s event, or conversing one-on-one, the subject of conflicting personalities often comes up. For that reason, I realize I should write about it more often. The young lady who stayed to talk with me today, offered a good reminder.
I’ve actually blogged about the Mysterious Power of Introverts in part one and part two previously, and general personality overviews in regard to grief, but I haven’t said much about Extroverts specifically. I can’t cover it all in one writing, but here are three ways I believe this outgoing group is often misunderstood.
Assumption: All extroverts think they’re smarter than other people, that’s why they’re always talking.
Truth: Extroverts think out loud. Sometimes they’re simply trying to figure out the answers to things they’re interested in, or deeply insecure about.
Assumption: Extroverts want to know your business so they can tell everyone else.
Truth: Most extroverts genuinely care, and are motivated in one of two ways.
1. Popular extroverts want acceptance. But they also want to show others they accept them, regardless of what that person is going through. Asking questions, and offering compassion is a natural extension of their driving desire for personal relationships.
2. Powerful extroverts want to make a difference. So helping someone solve a problem offers them the chance to promote a joint effort for the benefit of individuals and organizations. Asking questions allows them to gather the necessary facts for making informed decisons.
Assumption: Extroverts don’t think things through. They move too fast and don’t listen.
Truth: Opposite of their introvert counterparts, who think before they speak, the extrovert’s most creative and beneficial thoughts come through their vocal cords. This is not something they’re even aware they’re doing. It’s a natural habit — sometimes positive, but in extreme, definitely negative.
All of us must check our motives on a regular basis. I can’t say what spurs my young audience member’s frenemy, but at least partially, I doubt this person realizes what they’re doing. By her description, she’s dealing with a true and powerful extrovert.
My advice? Choose an appropriate time and setting, where things are calm, and ask to talk. Then without accusation, share your honest feelings, but do it through questions, more than making statements. “Do you know it makes me feel…when you say things like…? Did you realize you said…? Have I done something to make you dislike me, or that makes you consider my opinions unworthy? Am I doing something to make you feel awkward or uncomfortable?”
I learned this technique from studying Jesus in the Bible, and it really works. All of us feel cornered when someone projects their assumptions on us without investigating the true intent of our actions. But when you ask versus tell, it helps you remember there are things you don’t know you don’t know, and allows them to voice their true feelings without you telling them what they think.
Before we left, I also encouraged my new friend to keep peace as much as it is possible from her side of the relationship. It can take a short time, or years in the making, but through experience, I’ve seen God change some stubborn hearts and minds. Including my own.
When we are consistent in our behaviors, showing a willingness to recognize the truth about ourselves, checking our motives, practicing listening skills, and asking more questions than making statements, people take notice. And hopefully they see us for who we are regardless of personality — flawed human beings who care.
What are the patterns of conflicts you seem to repeat with people in your life?
Anita Fresh Faith
John 6:67 (NIV)
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, national speaker, Communications Specialist, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Expert, and Certified Training Facilitator. Anita is also the author of, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market. Her new book, Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, releases through Barbour Publishing in April, 2015.
She’s a partner in The Zenith Zone, a business coaching firm. Member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, Toastmasters, and a client of WordServe Literary Group. A graduate of CLASSeminars for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries.
Anita co-hosts a weekly podcast, Engaging Life and Leadership with Darren Dake, available on iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.
Anita is passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith.
Her favorite pastime is lounging by a river or lake in Missouri, laughing with her husband of thirty years, Ricky.
Follow her FreshFaith blog anitabrooks.com. You may contact her via website www.brooksanita.com/contact/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.