Blog Short #129: Are you an Extrovert?
Photo by Prostock-Studio, Courtesy of iStock Photo
What do you visualize when you think of an extrovert? How about the life of the party, or someone who can talk to anyone, or someone who’s warm and enthusiastic and socially adept?
All of those descriptions are valid and span many of the characteristics of extroverts.
Last week I covered introverts, and today we’re going to explore what it means to be an extrovert.
Let’s start with how extroverts draw their energy.
What energizes an extrovert?
Extroverts draw their energy by spending time with people.
No matter what type of extrovert you are, interaction with others is central to your existence.
You turn to other people to energize, recharge, and relax, even when feeling depleted.
Moreover, most extroverts have limitations on how much time they can spend alone and often feel isolated when they do. They thrive in high-energy environments with lots of people, activity, interaction, and even some chaos thrown in. A sports stadium full of fans hooting and hollering is home to an extrovert.
Signs You Might Be An Extrovert
Not all of these apply to everyone, but most extroverts will resonate with the majority of them. Extroverts:
- Love to talk.
- Like being the center of attention.
- Are inspired and energized by socializing.
- Like to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
- Discuss problems rather than internalize them.
- Look to others and outside sources for ideas and inspiration.
- Have numerous broad interests.
- Tend to act first before thinking.
- Are friendly, approachable, and outgoing.
- Are open.
- Enjoy working with groups.
Differences in the Brain
Three differences in an extrovert’s brain explain their need for higher levels of stimulation than that of an introvert. Here they are.
Extroverts have a low set point for arousal. This means that they require more stimulation to be aroused (excited, energized, awakened) than do introverts.
2. Preference for a Different Side of the Nervous System
Extroverts prefer the sympathetic side of the nervous system as opposed to the parasympathetic side. The sympathetic system acts like a motor revving up your engine, making it ready for action.
When this system is triggered, adrenaline’s released, and your muscles are energized, making you more alert. At the same time, the areas in your brain associated with prudent, careful thinking are turned off.
This is sometimes one of the downsides of being an extrovert because it can lead to impulsive behavior without consideration of consequences.
3. The Dopamine Difference
We’re all familiar with dopamine and its activation of feelings of pleasure in our brains when stimulated. You get that little jolt of dopamine when you look at your phone to see if you have any new messages.
This is called the “dopamine reward network,” and this network is more active in an extrovert’s brain.
When an extrovert anticipates doing something that will provide an emotional reward, like buying a new car, going to a party, or getting a job promotion, they get a “buzz,” or rush of pleasurable feelings.
They like to keep that buzz going and pursue activities to facilitate that.
4 Types of Extroverts
This typology comes from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. If you’ve never taken this test, you might enjoy doing so. It gives you much information about different aspects of your temperament and personality.
1. Sensing (ES) – Sensory-Oriented Extrovert
The “sensing” extrovert seeks novelty and experiences in their immediate physical environment. They enjoy sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes. They thrive on doing something on the fly with a sensory appeal, like trying out a new restaurant, going to a concert or sports event, or embarking on a cruise.
They’re spontaneous and fun-loving and can make decisions quickly, but they don’t always consider past mistakes or history and can get too wrapped up in the moment.
2. Feeling (EF) – People-Oriented Extrovert
These extroverts are warm and empathetic and thrive on connection and social interaction. They’re tuned into the feelings and needs of people around them and enjoy making others feel comfortable and happy. As such, they’re great hosts and good at ironing out conflicts.
EFs love to be helpful and are excellent conversationalists. They’re people pleasers.
3. Intuitive (EN) – Futuristic Extrovert
The intuitive extrovert’s primary drive is “possibility.” These extroverts love abstract ideas and what-ifs. They’re curious and enjoy talking, brainstorming, imagining, learning, debating, and exploring hypotheticals.
Their downside is that they may be indecisive, restless, and short on attention span. They have difficulty committing to a single course of action.
4. Thinking (ET) – Thinking Extrovert
Thinking extroverts are natural leaders, shakers, and movers. They’re confident, goal-oriented, decisive, and derive value and status from interaction with others. They like structure, organization, and achievement, and gain energy from pursuing and stretching themselves toward lofty goals and dreams.
They’re driven by challenge and enjoy creating and working with teams and groups to achieve something.
Some ETs are viewed as domineering and aggressive, which is true in the case of an extrovert who’s narcissistic. But others are collaborative and excel at teamwork. They’re good at inspiring others to be and do their best and to reach for more.
Extroverts, just like introverts, have many strengths. Undoubtedly, our culture has a bias toward extroversion, and these strengths are part of the equation creating that bias. Here they are.
1. Extroverts lean towards optimism.
They generally have a sunny disposition and approach things positively, with an optimistic view of the future. They see possibility and have a can-do attitude. Because of their orientation toward rewards, they strive for happiness and spend energy pursuing and exuding it.
2. Can function in chaos.
Extroverts can operate in atmospheres with high sensory output and activity levels.
Consider office settings for a moment:
The introvert would prefer a private office with a door that closes, but an extrovert would flourish in an open-space setting with many desks throughout, maybe some of which are grouped but not walled off.
Extroverts would enjoy conversing and exchanging ideas in a setting like this, whereas introverts would find it distracting and overwhelming.
3. Adapt to change.
Extroverts are more comfortable with change than introverts because they’re naturally attracted to novelty. They like new situations and ideas and feel energized by a change in gears in anticipation of possible rewards.
4. Have high levels of enthusiasm.
Extroverts are known for their enthusiasm. One of the ways this manifests is in their ability to inspire others to take action, see the positive sides of something, or consider new ideas. Extroverts are excellent at giving pep talks and encouraging others to pursue their goals and dreams.
5. They’re good communicators.
Because of their desire to interact with people, they enjoy communicating. Talking is their fuel. They’re generally good communicators and negotiators.
Extroverts are superlative networkers who thrive in conferences, meet and greets, expos, and group chats. They can socialize with anyone and make others feel comfortable.
How do I know if I’m an extrovert?
If you resonated with what you read today, you likely are an extrovert. However, you can also take personality tests to find out. Last week I gave you a link to a free quiz you can try. If you want to delve deeper into it, you can take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It’s not cheap ($49.95). Here’s the link for that.
I’ll finish with a short list of famous extroverts:
Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali, George Bush, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Hanks, Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton, Mark Cuban, Bob Hope, and John Goodman.
That’s all for today!
Hope you have a great week!
All my best,