Why do extroverts get most of the air time?

There is a misconception about introversion and extroversion. Many people believe it is about how confident people are or how shy. But it’s not about that at all.

At a basic level it is about how people get their energy. Extroverts are energised by large social gatherings and have a large group of friends. Introverts have a few intimate friendships and enjoy spending time alone.

The biggest influence of whether we are one or the other is said to be genetics. And yes, how you’re raised, and life experiences will also influence. Always nature and nurture, right?

Carl Jung’s theory is that we all carry both traits. Some obviously more than others. If both are equally present then he would call that an ambivert.

So why, when we have groups of people together does it appear that extroverts talk over, take over,  and seem obsessed with their perspective?

Firstly, it’s how they think.  They tend to think as they speak. They do their best brainstorming – out loud. It’s how they process information. It’s hard for them to think quietly. It’s not how they are wired.

Secondly. Because we let them.

Introverts on the other hand need quiet time. To process in their head before they speak.

We don’t design for both types of thinking styles. We ask questions and let the extroverts roll on in.

We don’t know how to hold the space for both in how we facilitate. We don’t know how to honour the introverts’ need for quiet time – and create it. And we don’t know how to respectfully quieten the loud voices, in the moment.

Then worst-case scenario resentment creeps in for the people in the room. The introverts are not being heard and the extroverts are fighting for time and attention.

Let’s not do this anymore.

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