What Introverts can learn from Extraverts: Get Social Support (Lesson 5)

This is the final lesson in this great and ground breaking series on lessons that introverts can learn from extraverts. In the past four lessons, introverts have learned:

How to engage in small talk;

How to take risks;

How to feel comfortable in crowds; and

How to “say yes!” to your dreams and goals.

And, I hope, that the exercises at the end of each lesson has been helpful in getting started with learning each skill. These are all important skills that are essential for personal and professional success. Introverts tend to stay in their shells, however, there are many situations in which this is not helpful and, honestly, sometimes just not appropriate. But we’re here to learn and, in this series, we are learning from extraverts. However, I will continue to stress that I am not teaching introverts to be or act like extraverts. Rather, I am teaching balance and how to be a better introvert.

With that said, let’s turn to the next and final lesson in the series.

Extravert Lesson #5: Get Social Support!

It might seem strange for introverts to seek social support. Introverts, by nature, tend to look within for answers rather than seek external assistance. This is an admirable skill but it can be taken to an extreme.

Extraverts love to talk about their problems. They talk to friends, acquaintances, neighbors, the mailman, the cashier at Wal-Mart, the woman who walks her dog past their house. Everyone! Extraverts will share their problems, concerns and fears with everyone that they meet.

Introverts are different. Introverts will generally only talk about problems with people that they know well. However, sometimes, introverts will simply choose to “keep their own counsel,” meaning that they will just suffer in silence.

And introverts do suffer!

Introverts can carry a heavy burden because they don’t ask for help or share their problems. By contrast, extraverts who are more at ease when it comes to sharing their problems or difficulties, get more help and support.

Whether it’s going to the doctor about a problem or simply chatting to your neighbour about a difficulty they are going through over a coffee, introverts must accept that other people can help!

The “Ask for help” Lesson

Asking for help is actually a multi-step process. First, you must identify that there is a problem. Second, decide whom to ask for the help that is needed. Third, you must actually communicate the problem to the person and ask for help. That’s a lot to do! We might not realize it on a conscious level but these are the steps that need to be made in the process of asking for help. Introverts are quite good—primarily because of their great powers of introspection—at recognizing when they have a problem. The problem occurs when determining whom to ask for help (step 2) and actually communicating the need for help (step 3) because introverts don’t usually want to share their problems with anyone. So, the lesson that Introverts need to learn is to overcome the challenges that will be faced in steps 2 and 3.

How to get started

Learn the three steps needed to ask for help. Then, as discussed in previous lessons, start small. Ask someone for help for a “minor” problem such as asking for directions to a certain place or a suggestion for a restaurant for dinner. As this gets easier (and it will get easier), start asking for help about more important issues. And definitely take note of how ideas, help and support will become available as you start to open up and share with more people. Finally, remember to give help and support to other people as well. Assistance cannot be a one-way street. It must flow in both directions. And remember the wise notion that to have a friend, one must be a friend.

This concludes the series about five lessons and skills that introverts can learn from extraverts. They might seem basic but this would be a simplistic view because everyone has challenges; introverts should be applauded for facing their challenges and learning from the “enemy extraverts.” The truth is introverts have many great qualities but they can still learn from extraverts. (And vice versa.) And learning these lessons will make Introverts stronger and more balanced. It will also make life easier and more fulfilling. So, check your egos at the door and start learning!

Great weather, huh?

Robin Lofton

Introvert writer and coach

I welcome all comments, ideas and suggestions so please feel free to contact me at robin@meta-inspired.com.


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