Pitfalls of the Extrovert

“People Person,” “Talker,” “Life of the Party,” “Socialite,” “Friendly,” “Outgoing.”

The Extrovert. If you know me, I land in this category with a weighty thud. I get energy from people. I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them. I could talk and talk with folks for hours. This isn’t a surprise if you have spend any time with me. I thrill at helping people, communing with them, teaching them, and getting the honor of leading them. I’m a tried and true extrovert.

With extroversion comes many benefits and positive qualities:

Warmth, kindness, empathy, social courage, communicative strength, and action-oriented. Our culture loves extroverts and praises them for all their positive qualities and they truly are a blessing.

However, extroverts and the culture that praises them have a tendency to ignore or be unaware of pitfalls of the extrovert. I wasn’t aware of these pitfalls until I was paired with my introverted husband 14 years ago. And even then, it has taken all these years to bring that awareness to a place of acknowledgement and understanding.

Here’s some pitfalls I’ve discovered on my journey as an extrovert that if left unattended, can not only hurt the “people person,” it can negatively affect the “people” of the “people person”:

Shallow Relationships: Extroverts are really good at creating acquaintances and relationships based on common connections because they are really good at talking with people. Everywhere they go, they make friends and connections. I do this all the time. I love connecting with people and expressing my genuine interest in them. Deeper relationships that delve into vulnerability, extensive time and effort, however, are much more difficult for extroverts. Relationships of this nature take nurture and care, and if an extrovert is always out making new connections, where is time found for feeding the connections already established? Extroverts often don’t realize how hurtful it can be to their closest friends to have to wait on the sidelines while they prance about various social circles making new connections. I can attest that if you don’t spend time feeding and giving back to those that are closest to you, they won’t sit on the side lines forever...they will seek companionship they crave from you, elsewhere. Take good care of your circle that is closest to you. If you don’t have a few really good friends, start making intentional efforts to feed into a few relationships that show potential for deeper connection. You might have to forgo a couple social events, but you won’t regret it.

Thoughtless Words: A common pitfall for extroverts is the proverbial foot in the mouth. We love talking to people so much that often, we don’t weigh our words and consider the tone, the implications, the possible effects of those words on the ears and hearts of those listening and attending to the conversation. Words come easily and quickly and we often times get energy and excitement from sharing them. Words are powerful, however. They can heal and they can hurt. We all need to take special care in the words we use, but this is especially true for the extroverts as we tend to fill every silence with our ideas, quips, jokes, and information. Gentleness and thought are called for when using words. Please, fellow extroverts, take heed.

Desperation for Affirmation: Verbal accolades, words of approval, the pat on the back...whatever form it takes, it tends to be something that extroverts crave. We love people and we want people to love us back. This pursuit of affirmation can lead to in the inability to say no and becoming overworked and overwhelmed. Affirmation is a good thing but it should not be the goal. That puts way too much pressure on the affirmer and sets the one seeking affirmation up for failure and heartache.

Mask-Making: Since extroverts often enjoy performing and entertaining, a very big trap for this outgoing group is that of putting on false personas and hiding their true selves for the sake of the masses that love them. Vulnerability is a terrifying thing and when you have large amounts of people that know you at a superficial level, the prospect of drawing back the veil so they can see what you’re really made of can be paralyzing. Extroverts can be prone to hypocritical behavior and words due to fear and the pursuit of affirmation. Genuine is usually not as clean and perfect, but in the long run, it is the better choice whether it is liked by everyone or not.

We often don’t see our own areas of weakness and when we do, we usually prefer to push it to the side and not deal with it. But when we take a moment to consider these areas without criticism and harsh judgement, we can sit with these tender areas and look objectively at how to make strides in a better direction. We can grow. We can learn.

If you are an extrovert, which pitfall resonates with you? What have you found to be helpful in avoiding these common extrovert personality issues?

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