Caring for Extroverts During Physical Distancing
You may have seen the jokes on social media.
Introverts: Check on your extrovert friends. They are NOT OK!
Meanwhile, the introverts are joking that extroverts finally get a taste of what it’s like to live in a world built for the other personality type.
We talked to introverts and extroverts to get an idea of what everyone needs right now.
Not Sure What Type You Are?
Introversion-Extroversion is a spectrum. You could be very introverted, very extroverted or somewhere in the middle.
About three-quarters of Americans consider themselves extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from being with other people. When alone, they might feel bored or anxious, according to Psychology Today. Introverts prefer to be more reflective and recharge on their own.
You can take the Myers Briggs Personality Test online to learn interesting things about yourself.
Extroverts Are Adjusting
After working from home for three years, extrovert Kara Callahan was excited to start a new job at an office—only for the COVID-19 pandemic to send her back to her home office two months in.
“I am so driven by relationships,” Callahan said. “They grow in those chance encounters you have in an office. (Going to an office again) felt like a return to my groove.”
When she got news she’d be working from home again, she knew it was extremely important and was on board. But it also felt uncomfortable because it isn’t the social situation she thrives in. But a few weeks in, she’s learning what is working for her and adapting.
“Things that are happening are special in their own way that are fulfilling for me,” she said.
Extrovert Bill Paul travels frequently for his job in technology sales. He said when he first started physical distancing at home with his wife and kids, ages 6 and 4, it was a nice transition from the road. While he’s enjoying the family time, he’s also missing socialization.
“This made me realize how much of an extrovert I am,” he said.
He’s making the most of it, managing his team remotely, spending time with his kids, and even seizing the opportunity to establish healthy eating habits.
Extroverts are creatively finding new ways to connect. They’re the ones planning virtual happy hours and theme dinners with friends. They’re encouraging co-workers to turn their webcams on. No judgment about your home situation, they say. Don’t worry about the state of your makeshift office or kids and pets interrupting a video call.
“Just be really comfortable to say I’m not afraid of this,” Paul said. “I’m not going to be afraid to see your real situation either. There’s nothing about this that’s normal and we shouldn’t play it off like it is.”
Extroverts see the imperfection as an opportunity to connect.
“Being able to see the non-work side of my team fills that part of me that’s driven by relationships,” Callahan said.
Extroverts are also curious about the new dynamics of virtual calls and meetings. They offer a new challenge for extroverts to learn to read their colleagues when they can’t see body language or non-verbal cues as distinctly. Only one conversation can happen at a time, so side whispers don’t happen.
Finding Other Connections
Extroverts described the need to stay active and busy. If it’s safe, getting out for a walk around the neighborhood and enjoying spring’s surprises can be nice. Even if you can’t socialize, leaving a surprise for passers by can be a way of connecting. You could plant flowers, hang twinkle lights, or leave a teddy bear in the window.
Even though volunteer work comes with new restrictions, Paul and Callahan both described that as being meaningful and something that connects them to the bigger community.
Paul and his wife own an AirBNB in Orlando. They decided that a way to connect with others during this crisis is to use their property to support families that need a space without making a profit.
“We’re not thinking of it as a business but as a platform to do social good,” he said.
Callahan is enjoying her food distribution volunteer shifts even though she has to take two weeks off between them.
Extrovert Advice to Their Loved Ones
Just reach out to say hello, they ask. Even if it’s a quick text message. Before work meetings, ask how teammates are doing or how their weekend was. Those moments mean a lot to extroverts.
“On behalf of extroverts, I say don’t be scared to just send a quick chat,” said Callahan. “I won’t rope you into a 20-minute conversation. I can read a room.”
Paul encourages his introverted friends to set the schedule for check-ins. Assume your extroverted friends want those calls, texts, or virtual chats, and are willing to work them around your introverted needs. If you enjoy a quiet morning or the evening to yourself, just tell the extroverts. They’ll happily call you within the window you give them.
Image by Dan Rentea