What Introverts can learn from Extraverts: Lesson #2

Welcome to the second part of this all-important series on lessons and skills that introverts can learn from extraverts. Yesterday we learned the importance of engaging in small talk. This is a very important lesson for introverts because they have a natural aversion for talking to strangers about “superficial” topics. But small talk is an essential skill that connects people and can make or break a career or even a relationship.

Today’s lesson is equally important—and it’s something that many introverts find difficult or unnatural.

Extravert Lesson #2: Take a Risk!

Often extraverts are inclined to act quickly and impulsively. Not so introverts. Extraverts jump into the “deep end of the pool” with both feet while introverts prefer to know how deep the pool is, examine the water temperature, and reflect on whether they have brought waterproof sunblock.

Introverts do a lot of thinking! Extraverts just jump into the pool and swim.

One of the distinct characteristics of introversion is the ability to analyse a situation and think before acting. This is a positive quality. However, preparation and planning are certainly important, the ability to make a decision and take action is essential to happiness and success. Introverts often get bogged down (or distracted) in the little details of an activity or decision. This tendency to over analyze can prevent introverts from acting, engaging in activities and making decisions. And they can also neglect to enjoy the activity or feel secure in the decision.

Extraverts, however, tend to act before thinking about all the factors. They prefer to take the risk and deal with the consequences at a later time. This approach can be taken on any type of behaviour from asking someone on a date to starting a business to climbing Mount Everest. Every activity carries a degree of risk and extraverts are willing to face it.

Introverts should develop this skill.

This is not a suggestion to act irresponsibly, engage in reckless activities or make imprudent decisions. However, it can be good for the life and soul to trust one’s instincts and take a chance in different aspects of life. It’s good for the confidence, too!

In an essay on fear and risk, New York Times columnist, Mary Schmich, noted, “Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out.” Extraverts will step on the podium and grab the microphone. Introverts also need to grab that mic and start wowing the crowd! Sometimes, you just need to do something.

“Take a Risk” Lesson

Taking a risk opens a person to new experiences, new people and new challenges. It will take you beyond your comfort zone. Yes, it can feel strange. You might want to retreat back to where life feels easy (e.g., your comfort zone). Resist that urge! It will eventually feel easier. And remember that Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” She was definitely a risk-taking Introvert!

How to Begin

Start small then take bigger risks. Think of 5 new things that you would like to do. Would you like to travel? Change jobs or move to a new city? Is there a hobby that you would like to try? (Personally, I started learning to play the cello and learning Mandarin.) Others have tried sky diving, learning a new language or taken a cooking class. The sky is the limit!

Taking a risk also involves decision-making. Try going with your inner feeling (e.g., your instinct) rather than making a mind-map, pro/con list or info chart about every decision (large and small) that you make. Definitely start small on this endeavor! Use this “instinct” method of decision-making on “small” decisions such as the route to drive to work or where to go on vacation. Most importantly, trust your decisions.

Remember that your “circle” expands every time that you step out of your comfort zone and take that risk.

Recommended Reading: Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You: A Journal.


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