Conversing With Extroverts 101

introvert vs extrovert

Warning: this post might be slightly ranty.

Introvert vs. Extrovert In Conversation

Introverts and extroverts often have very different communication styles – sometimes DRASTICALLY different. Extroverts tend to be verbal processors who flit quickly from topic to topic and interrupt each other frequently (more on that later). Introverts, on the other hand, need to think before we speak, and prefer slower paced conversations that cover fewer topics.

Author Laurie Helgoe compares introvert conversations to jazz:

“Introvert conversations are like jazz.  Each player gets to solo for a nice stretch before the other player comes in and does his solo.”

So, if introvert conversations are like jazz, I’d say that extrovert conversations are more like a boy band or girl band pop song. Forget about the long solos; for many extroverts, it’s completely natural to interrupt and talk over each other.

This can be really frustrating for introverts. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you probably already know that being interrupted is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves. It drives me crazy! Often, it is enough to make me avoid a person altogether.

I also find the extrovert tendency to talk really quickly and jump around from topic to topic very tiring.

I'm sorry did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours? somee card

It’s okay to prefer the introverted way

Once upon a time, the fact that the above things annoyed me made me feel bad about myself. I thought there was something wrong with me because I was exhausted and frustrated by the typical extrovert communication style.

Later I came to realize that there is nothing wrong with my innie way of communicating. And there is nothing wrong with the extroverted way either (though I still think interrupting is really rude and disrespectful and it makes me say lots of swear words in my mind).

The thing is, there are many many kind, caring, well-intentioned extroverts out there who simply can’t help interrupting. Like I said early, it is their natural way of communicating. To them, interrupting to provide input or their own personal story is a way of moving the conversation forward.

introvert conversations are like jazz laurie helgoe quote

They also might cut us off in order to summarize what we are saying (I HATE THIS SO MUCH!) and show that they are listening. Or at least I think that is why they do it. Really, I just wish they would let me finish my sentences, but I know that they have good intentions and yada yada yada, so I try to make the best of it.

Here are the three ways that I’ve learned to navigate conversations with interrupting extroverts.

How to navigate extrovert conversations

Step 1: Know that there is nothing wrong with you

There is no shame in preferring a slower paced, more focused style of conversation. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you.

Don’t feel bad about yourself if someone repeatedly interrupts you. I know it can be really demoralizing when this happens. Your automatic assumption is that you must be talking too slowly, or that what you are saying is really boring. Not so! Usually, extroverts who are constantly interrupting do so with everyone. It is just their way of conversing. Do not take it personally.

Step 2: Interrupt them back

I’ve discovered that extroverts who interrupt you expect you to interrupt them back. They don’t find it rude.

To be honest, most of the time I can’t be bothered to steal the spotlight back. Sometimes out of sheer stubbornness I’ll repeatedly redirect the conversation back to what I was originally saying. This takes A LOT of energy and I don’t enjoy doing it. However, it is worth it if I feel like what I have to say is important.

Step 3: Find someone else to talk to

There are some lovely extroverts out there who I enjoy talking to despite their interrupting ways. On occasion, I’ve had to gently (or not so gently) remind said extroverts that it makes me feel bad when they interrupt me.

These people are the exceptions. For the most part, I avoid people who talk really fast and/or have a habit of interrupting.

If you are like me, and you find the extrovert style of conversation exhausting and frustrating, I recommend keeping such conversations to a minimum. In other words, don’t surround yourself with people who suck the life out of you, and DO NOT enter into a long-term relationship with someone if their conversation style exhausts you.

Some introverts don’t seem to mind their partners speaking for them or cutting them off. This would quickly reduce me to a twitching, angry little bundle of bitterness.   So please, if what I’m saying resonates with you, don’t marry someone who drains you and makes you want to implode. Just find someone else – introvert or extrovert – who will slow the hell down and listen to you.

What about you? Do you find the extrovert communication style frustrating? How do you feel when someone constantly interrupts you or talks really fast? I ‘d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Much love,

Michaela Signature

28 Comments

  1. A very good reminding post. It summarizes very well lot of things that had been treated all along this blog. I don’t like to be interrupted. I mean, it is like “hey, right now, I could be daydreaming and let you in your (and not mine) uncomfortable silence. Instead, I’m trying to talk to you. At least respect me.”

    I don’t like extravert way of talking because I think it doesn’tss takes you anywhere. See:
    There’s a project made by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona’s Authonom University) named Campus Ítaca, that it’s made for students of 3rd of ESO (I don’t know what would be this grade in terms of other countrys. I will just say that these students usually are between 14 andd 15).
    There are lot of people that’s gifted (no, it’s not sarcasm) with this. My case was asociality. My teachers thought I was socially excluded. The real problem is I don’t see any reason in engaging in social relationships as much as my extravert friends.
    Anywhere, these days I’ve met lot of people, and somehow acted as an extravert. I wasn’t faking it, it just happened. But today I realised. I don’t KNOWS (note the emphasis) me and i don’t KNOW anybody. I mean, yeah, my mates know i like black humor, sarcasm, spontaneous jokes, and they even know i’m an introvert and somewhat asocial. But they don’t know the true me: the dreamer that expresses himself in a rather metaforically way everything that happens inside his soul and heart.
    Further. Yesterday I had a lot of social interaction and no time alone, so I behaved like any introvert in that situataion (deadly seriousness, rarely talkative, onl.y mumbling words when somebody talked to me… you know the entire list) and I said I was an introvert. People somewhat censored me. I later explained I wasn’t a misanthrope, but that I need this time alone oh-so-badly.

    Anyway, I wanna say something to all the innies around here: don’t get mad if somebody doesn’t know you. If you try to know them and still don’t get it, it’s not your fault. It’s just they prefer a superficial relationship. So ¿why bother knowing somebody that is just interested in knowing you superficially? You’re a gift, and a gift is valued when it’s given to someone special.

    Reply
    • Hi Ivo! Thanks for sharing your introvert experiences. And thanks for the great advice for all innies. Many introverts feel a lot of guilt and sadness over people who don’t ‘get’ them. It’s time for innies to realize how awesome they are and get over the guilt. 🙂

      Reply
    • Great article! I am an extrovert and I do interrupt but definitely not in a rude way. And yes, I do enjoy feedback simultaneously. My question to you and all of the other introverts who would like to chime in is how do I enter into a conversation with an introvert who is hurt by the idea of me not spending time with them when they invited me to an event? I apologized even though I was very transparent with my feelings and asked them if they were okay with it. They said they were okay and then held a grudge for 2 weeks. I just don’t know how to talk to them without apologizing again and making it like I was so wrong which I don’t think I was. But I care about this person deeply and their feelings matter to me. Suggestions? Thanks!!!

      Reply
  2. I find the lack of depth and the lack of opportunities to contribute something to a conversation the most frustrating aspects of extrovert communication. I once directed a conversation back to a previous topic in order to make a point and was criticized for it.

    Reply
    • Hi Adam. I feel your pain. It’s frustrating trying to fight your way into a conversation only to be criticized for wanting to revisit an earlier topic.

      Reply
  3. Interruption laden, extroverted conversations can indeed be quite challenging! I get very frustrated when I’m interrupted, because it almost feels like some people are “allowed” to interrupt, and if I try to do it, I somehow can’t pull if off without appearing rude or feeling disconnected from the conversation. Sometimes I think it relates to my need have a couple of extra seconds to think before deciding what to say in a conversation, such that I will never hit that “perfect” moment to interject into the melee of words.

    Sometimes I find that it helps to let the extroverted speaker get their word binge out completely before I try to say something, and finally when I do speak, deliberately try soften the pace of the conversation to my comfort zone. Even before I start speaking, if I really want to make a point about something that was said, I’ll deliberately express some body language at the time so listeners can expect that I’ll be making a point about something that had already been passed by in conversation. More of an art than a science really, never perfect, but always so darn tiring! 🙂

    Reply
    • Great insights and advice, Phillip! I find it really difficult to hit the perfect moment to interject as well. It’s like if you don’t make the 1 second window where they’re inhaling, you’re already too late!

      Reply
  4. I have never read such helping and practical advices before. Thank you, it is most encouraging. I have gaven up so many times and have chosen these roles.
    1) Silent mode. Being rudely silent.
    2) Rebel mode. Interrupting.
    3) Defeated mode. I just give up receiving time to speak, and enjoy being the one to sum it up the last 20 seconds.

    Reply
    • Hi Halvard, I’m so glad you found it helpful! I am all too familiar with all the modes you described! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Interupting for me feels extremly rude in my head and for opposing person. I dontlike being rude so I allmost never interupt, but listen until they stop. Then it’s my turn, usualy I can get interupted in the begining of my first sentence, then get blocked again. This seriously is destroying me, especialy when I’m tired from long day of talking, I can allmost feel physical pain !

    Lately I started to say to the new friends about that I get tired of talking and I need a rest.
    Readthe sentence loudly – “I get mentaly tired of talking” (plus explanations). I can clearly feel and see the perople i share this are so surprised, so amazed that they see it as a problem, not a gift.
    It’s so strange that so many people have no idea what the second type of personality is, that’s 30-40% of the population and they have no idea.

    My first day of my new job went good with metting people, the next day this mate asked me, “Are you angry or something (you are too serious)”.

    My advice is enter a field that requires introverted thinking, for example some job’s.

    Reply
    • You offer some great insights. Thanks for sharing. It is really sad and surprising that so many people don’t understand a personality type that accounts for such a high percentage of the population! It is what keeps me writing about introversion.

      Reply
  6. One day when I am thinking about myself, I got the word introvert ( I don’t know from where ) I type it on Google and with a lot of results I found Introvert spring, for the last 2 weeks am reading your postings. I am feeling very proud and confident about myself. Before I think I have some problems, but now I know I am just introvert and am OK. your blog help me a lot to find myself. thank u …….thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • You’re very welcome, Visal! I’m so happy you found me and my site has helped you feel better about youself. xo Michaela

      Reply
  7. I’m an extrovert and this really made me feel unwanted and ‘blonde’ I listen to all my friends and, well this really upset me as it stereotyped extroverts as stupid emotionless busy bodies

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your perspective. This doesn’t apply to all extroverts, of course. But it is a problem that a lot of introverts encounter with certain extroverts so I felt the need to address it. I have lots of extroverted friends who are great listeners.

      Reply
  8. People who interrupt me in conversation have always bothered me, and I never even considered that it was just their style of communication and they did not mean anything by it. I have always considered it a rude thing to do, and have also felt very insecure when it happens for the reasons mentioned. I feel that I was being boring and uninteresting and I withdraw into a shell. Knowing that this may just be their way of communicating is very helpful. Perhaps I will try to interrupt them back and see what happens. But it is seriously a pet peeve of mine also. I just think interrupting people is rude. Great advice as always!

    Reply
  9. Having been an introverted type person all my life I have learnt that there is no point in waiting and being patient in conversations with extroverts. I have always been around extroverts and now all I do is just interrupt in there conversations, there is no point in being patient with them and I do exactly what step 2 says. I have taught myself to redirect the conversation to where I started and although I find it terribly irritating I have no other option because my whole family are extroverts and so are my friends. 🙁

    Reply
    • You must’ve had a frustrating childhood!

      Reply
  10. This is such a good article! I got into a not fight exactly with a friend of mine today, but I could tell she was mad and she walked away! So I put “my friend gets mad when I interrupt her what do I do?” Into Google and it brought me here! What it said about extroverts is completely right! My whole family interrupts – its just normal and natural. Interrupting and diverse conversation topics is how we show we’re listening, how we don’t forget to say something later and just plainly how we communicate. My dad used to joke that in our family three people could have five conversations. Most of my friends are fine with this, and I do let new people know I can have a tenancy to dominate a conversation and to jump in and interrupt me! We really do expect you to interrupt us back! All you have to say is “oh that reminds me of…” or “so it’s like…” its really easy. But anyways like I said I have this one friend who gets SOOO mad at me, but after reading this I can see why her feelings are hurt if she thinks I’m saying she’s boring or just want to make the conversation all about me so I will try harder to not interrupt her. It would be nice if she could stumble upon this blog in cyberspace and see that I’m not trying to be rude, it really is just the way I talk :/

    Reply
  11. It’s strange- I’m naturally introverted, but with friends that I am super comfortable around, I actually become extroverted and in my excitement at our conversation topics, end up being the interrupter! It’s almost an ADD thing- trying to change that!

    Reply
  12. I have become more introverted the last couple of years. I think especially because i can’t really relate to most people anymore. I notice that when I come into contact with people that i haven’t seen for like two years, i have no idea what to say to them anymore.

    Yet, being an introvert, I differ somewhat from most other introverts in the way that when I talk, I am very extraverted. Where a lot of introverts have to ponder before talking, I have the gift of being able to instantly ignite on a lot of topics, often without even knowing hardly anything about it. It just flows, I don’t have to think about it. Often when i replay the harddrive in my head I actually learn from the things I said myself.

    So I do interrupt too. But what I have noticed is that most extroverts don’t really care about listening, they just need to talk. I have the same, but more about in depth topics. I don’t really care if they listen, I just need to get it out.

    So when I talk to an extravert and they interrupt me, I let them, wait till they are done, and just keep talking. They don’t seem to care.

    When people come with small talk, I will show them with my resting bitch face and body language, that I am not in the mood for yapping. Most of the time they get the message rather quickly.

    Reply
  13. I find myself being the interrupter these days as I take a more aggressive stance against being stuck in conversations I don’t want to be in. On the flip side, if I get interrupted then it’s story done. If I do get asked to continue rather than “I forgot” I have taken to saying the more honest “It’s not that important.”

    I have decided to learn how to drive a conversation rather than always ending up at the mercy of them.

    Reply
  14. I must admit I do interrupt while in discussions. The reason being I don’t want to be left out or I’m just really passionate about a topic. I am working on interrupting less and listening more.

    Reply
  15. Hi Michaela. I enjoy your blog. My challenge is a crowded extrovert workspace. I have worked around some of it. I had my hearing tested and realized I couldn’t hear on my phone with the continual chatter. I got these heavy headphones that not only remind others I need to hear, but as well that I need to wear these phones becaise of the noise. I do take them off as a visual cue, and chat sparingly. My favorite motor mouth this week decided she was a loner and spent the entire shift interrupting about how she preferred to be alone. She also likes to begin her interruptions with “I know you don’t like it but… Or I know how you think but….” it used to drain me but I am more able to laugh now. I also have a smooth counter interruption when she is particularly off track “no you don’t know, or that isn’t what we are discussing. “

    Reply
  16. My husband and I are both introverts but often experience the conversational annoyances you describe in this thread… with each other, ha. I’m a fast-talking introvert who likes to focus on one particular topic, while my husband is a slow-talking introvert who jumps topics. I get frustrated with him when he slowly makes points that I think are obvious, only to then completely change the conversation to something I perceive as random and unrelated, while he gets frustrated with me for talking so fast that I interrupt him, and that I want to go back to something we talked about to clarify or explain something better, but in his mind is already a completed topic. So sure, some of the irritating conversational behavior you describe is definitely more likely to come from an extrovert, but sometimes introverts can also do similar things to each other when talking. ;D

    Reply
  17. As an extrovert I find it very offensive that modern media is saying introverts are cool, calm and collected, and extroverts are pushy, bossy, and mean. And whenever we extroverts want some comforting, we look up “why extroverts are awesome”. ALL THAT COMES UP IS “Why introverts are better than extroverts”……Thanks, society.

    Reply
  18. I have something to say!!!

    I’m a 95% extrovert according to 16 personalities

    I googled stuff, wound up here out of frustration! From alllllll these introverts in my life

    I live in Engineer ville South bay area of southern California. (Near LA) Every major aero space company is here & all these smaller engineer companies as well

    This area is crazy populated with engineers

    I’m a Christian
    I mostly hang out with friends from church & acquantances via small group Bible studies etc..

    Basically every male, my age group- at church, is an engineer

    The ones who aren’t- are philosophy majors & all this other similar mind stuff

    Engineers are superrrrr introverted

    Their mind is like an excel file

    They live in their head etc..

    I’m the polar opposite!

    95% extrovert!
    Can you imagine the clashing?

    And the worse part. There’s no one to vent to! They’re everywhere!! I’m starting to feel crazy, closterfobic even!

    Jk.

    But they gang up on me!

    They tell me to think first- then say!

    I’ve tried twice in my life & I just couldn’t get anything out! Everyone was like, are u okayyyyy?????

    Forget that noise!

    I respond off the cuff. Always have. There’s no 2 second delay. It’s all live. Real time, right here, right now!

    Probably cause I’m not in my head! I’m in the real world!!

    That’s where I usually am, thinking is secondary

    I’m not in my head 100% of the time & when people request information from me, I type up a response in my mind then send it out there: In the real world!

    Nah dude! I’m in the real world, engaging, hands onnn dude!

    Introverts seem to have this resivor tank in their heads- and when someone’s talking to them, that tank gets more & more full every word that they say adds to it

    And they want to go through all that information in there head. Analyze it? I guess, or play with it? Head butt it- Or whatever you guys do..

    I cannnnnn notttttt relate to that atttt allllllllll btw!

    The way it is for me

    You know what a wood chipper is? You throw trees in there- spits it out the other side all chopped up. All right on the spot, second it goes in- it’s spit out the other side

    That’s more what it’s like for me. There is no resivor tank. I’m not holding on to every word someone says. I don’t hold on to it & rub up against it.

    Jk, calm down..

    I understand & comprehend what they’re saying right as fast as they say it. There’s no delay. I don’t get behind. I don’t ever need to catch up

    Occasionally the person will say something super complicated and use a bunch of words I don’t know. In which case I’ll tell them to explain all that stuff so I’ll get it, even tell them to give examples sometimes etc..

    But I “get it”
    Right on the spot- no need to hold on to it for later & “process it” (I don’t even know what that means yo!!)

    And because of that,
    Guess what?

    I can handle the must talkative people you’ve ever met in your life- noooooo problem!!!

    It doesn’t drain me at allllll!

    It does the opposite! It wakes me uppp! I can be kinda sleepy hanging with some quiet friends. Then a social rock star walks in & I’m awake!!

    I know a dude that’s easily- probably more talkative than anyone you’ve ever met in your life.

    Growing up, I’ve heard tonnnns of people say he talks wayyyy too much

    He was easily one of my favorite friends to be around!

    And I’ve neverrrr said that you myself “This dude talks too much”

    Meaning- there is no such thing in my book!

    I prefered talking that dude over almost everyone I knew at the time. Even when I see him now (I’m Christian now, don’t see the old friends too much) Man we have a blast! If you were in ear shot of us, your head would explode, then ur body would twitch a little bit, do the nay nay, pick up some dry cleaning- then just vibrate into little pieces, and turn into a little puddle of silver like T-1000 from terminator 2

    Man I love talkative people. When I meet them, we always exchange info

    You introverts, you guys talk wayyyyyy to much!!!

    But! You do it in your heads!!
    Ohhhhhhhh…… (Drops 8 mics)

    Sidebar- how do you guys watch movies?? That’s 1.5 to 3hrs of non stop information

    I’m frustrated cause. My church is big, there’s a lot of people my age (young adult) but they’re all engineers, they’re all in their head

    So they gang up on me!

    They’ll tell me I say too many details, that I need to be susinct or concise- just speak in slogans pretty much

    I’m like.. Dude that sounds depressing. If I were like that, I’d dream of being socially cool! And extroverted! To be all brief & quiet is nottt the dream is what I’m sayin

    Anyway. They don’t get it!
    They don’t kno much about extrovert, introvert

    They assume they are normal
    And I am deliberately being this way. And they give me feedback, advice, they tell me about me- and how I need to say wayyy less. And just barely ever talk

    First of all- they think that stuff is teachable- or learnable. It’s not!

    It’s like being funny
    You are just born funny, or not. You can’t learn that dude

    At school! These guys were the outcasts & everyone wanted to be extroverted

    They were the black sheep

    It was cool to be like me
    No one wanted to be like them, even them (probably, I can’t possibly know)

    Now..
    Cause they’re all introverted
    They are the majority

    When they tell me stuff in public- everyone nods their head in agreement & they all take turns on me. Telling me about me, and how these things are just wrong & they’re telling me what to change

    But I can’t!!!

    I can’t help it guys!

    Imagine if it were flip
    And you came to a community where everyoneeee was extroverted & you were the only introvert & they would gang up on you & tell u how weird u are for not being like them. And telling you: You’re too concise! You’re too serious! You’re too boring! Say something! You’re too cold! You have a mean, serious, cold demeanor- stop it! Cut that out! Smile! Be more jokie! Be social! Stop being so shy! Stop being afraid to say stuff when the group size is more than. 3 people. Stopppp thinking before you talk! Stop looking up when you talk, searching for the best way to say your thoughts: scanning for the brief way to get it out. Just say it! Just speak your mind!! Stop having a serial killer vibe about you! (Some dude at the gym said that about engineers)

    Imagine that?
    Imagine how wrongggg we’d be

    You can’t help it

    And neither can I

    It would be intelligent of them to understand me- see that these are my default settings & I can’t change them no matter how hard I try. And vise versa

    It would make them seem un-smart, if after being really well informed of how all this stuff works- they still feel the same way. It would be as if they don’t have the capacity to understand these things

    I’ve used my words to describe this to soooo many. And only one dude understood so far. Shout out to Daniel! What up baby! How was that chille verde? I told you bro!

    Reply
  19. As an extrovert the thing that bothers me about introverts is that you can be passive agressive. Do we unintentionally cut you off? Yes. Do we jump all over the place with conversations? Yes. Here’s my suggestion- tell us when something is bothering you!! We won’t get offended especially if you say in such a way as “hey, can I finish what I was saying” or “when you cut me off I feel like what I’m saying isn’t important to you”. Despite our shortcomings we are decent people and prob don’t realize we’re annoying you so by actually telling us we’ll be more aware and will try our best to not do it again. To be honest we’re just prob so excited to have a conversation with you that it leads to us to not think about what we’re doing. Not telling us when we’ve crossed a line and holding a grudge is torture for us as we can always tell something is wrong. Most of my closest friends are introverted and once we opened our communication our relationships blossomed as we were able to understand each other.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *