Learning to Meet in the Middle: Introverts vs Extroverts

In the West, there is an almost subconscious pressure to strike up a conversation with about anybody you meet. Outgoingness is considered an attractive quality to have as much as it is seen as a courtesy. So as an “introvert” myself, I am somebody more quiet than most, and really only like to speak if there is something important to me. I do not like to open my mouth if it is for gossip, or about how tired I am, or how bad I want this day to be over to some stranger. I sacrifice a lot of my social status to be true to myself.

I read a book in high school called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” that really helped me understand myself better. Essentially, from what I remember from the book, there is scientific evidence suggesting that the brains of introverts and extroverts are built differently. An introvert’s brain takes more time to process a thought, which is why thoughts might come out of the mouth slower, and an extrovert’s brain is more likely to process things faster and speak before thinking. This is not to dog on extroverts per say, just to give a short snip-it of this book I read. Lovely book by the way, I recommend you check it out.

To add a little more cultural perspective, the Native Americans valued silence over talking. Here in the West, as I mentioned in the intro, seeming like you can keep a conversation going is considered confident and attractive. We do not put a lot of appreciation on our deep thinking, but more towards how much we can babble our mouths.

I have also had conversations with people from Asian countries and Eastern European countries who have said that Americans spend a lot of time having meaningless discussions. In some of their cultures, they have similar values to the Native Americans.

Essentially, I think we can learn a little from both sides. For Westerners, we can learn to stop talking so much and listen to other people, and for Easterners, perhaps there can be more conversation with strangers on the street. This is not to divide people into black and white concepts, but to expand further on cultural concepts so we may grow as a more positive, peaceful society. We have to remember that peace may only come from understanding. ❤

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