8 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Extroverts
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2015
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If you think of extroverts as shallow and abrasive, you might wonder what you could possibly learn from them. But don’t make the same mistake many people do by misjudging and dismissing them. Extroverts simply like being around other people. “Being around others actually gives them energy. They enjoy working with others to get things done,” says Jene Kapela, principal and founder of Jene Kapela Leadership Solutions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “For this reason, people who prefer extraversion have an advantage in large social settings and in work groups.” Read on to discover what lessons you can learn from extroverts.
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“Extroverts are usually great talkers,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of “It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction.” “They can tell stories, hold groups spellbound and entertain a room.” Jeremy Schwartz, a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York, agrees. “Extroverts are the masters of small talk. They thrive on the experience of being around other people.” Not surprisingly, a study published in the Journal of Psychology found extroverts tend to have a more positive-communicator image than introverts -- that is, extroverts perceive themselves to be good communicators -- and those with a high-communicator image will naturally find interaction with others easy. Nevertheless, “introverts, too, can learn the skills of small talk and how to function at social events,” Schwartz says. “It just has to be learned rather than coming naturally as it does for extroverts.” The more you engage in small talk with those around you -- co-workers, baristas, waiters, etc. -- the more comfortable you’ll become with casually striking up a conversation.
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LEARN FROM THEIR ADVENTUROUSNESS
Generally speaking, extroverts are adventurous, usually saying yes to new situations and opportunities, says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina. “They have social courage, and a lot of us need to learn from that,” she says. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, explains why extroverts might tend to be open to new experiences: “Their openness to others often translates to openness to new concepts,” she says. “This is great for mental flexibility, moving new muscles, trying new ideas.” In fact, those who are less daring might consider trying a little adventure occasionally, says psychotherapist Jeremy Schwartz. “Being open to these new experiences, which may take an introvert out of their comfort zone, is an important part of learning and growing in life,” he says.
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TAKE A CHANCE
Extroverts usually have no qualms about taking chances. It’s part of their nature: Research published in 2005 found that the brains of extroverts respond more strongly to a gamble that pays off than the brains of introverts. This might help explain why extroverts enjoy taking risks -- even the simple social risk of meeting new people and leaping into novel situations. This impulse to plunge into the unknown, however, can sometimes lead to outcomes they couldn’t have predicted. As a result, “extroverts have usually learned to be creative in their dealings with others,” says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina. “They have to learn to deal with unexpected situations. They can usually come up with a plan when others have no idea.” So take a step out of your comfort zone and try something you wouldn’t normally do.
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ENJOY SOCIAL NETWORKING
Being an extrovert can be advantageous professionally. “So often, workplaces are social worlds,” says psychologist Ramani Durvasula. “While it would be great if the world were a true meritocracy, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes he who schmoozes wins. And extroverts are better at this.” Furthermore, because extroverts thrive on social interaction, they often have a larger social network. Interactions with a wide variety of people can have a positive impact on careers, says Jessica Houston, Ph.D., executive coach and founder of Jessica Houston Enterprises. She explains that while an introvert might view attending a conference, training or networking event as a chore, an extrovert would likely be enthusiastic about expanding her network and meeting new people. “Viewing networking as an exciting activity makes it more likely that connections will be made that ultimately lead to a promotion or better business opportunities,” she says. Whenever you feel yourself start to dread a networking event or opportunity, remind yourself of one positive thing that could result from the encounter.
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TAP INTO SOCIAL SUPPORT
Extroverts tend to access social support easily, says psychologist Ramani Durvasula. “Social support is one of the most useful and important coping tools we have,” she says. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology confirms this. The study’s authors, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme, looked at the 1965 Human Population Laboratory survey of a random sample of nearly 7,000 adults in Alameda County, California, and the subsequent nine-year mortality follow-up. They determined that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social bonds was more than double the risk for adults with the most social bonds. Durvasula explains that their ability to access support from neighbors, friends, colleagues or other social contacts is associated with a wide assortment of benefits, including better health outcomes.
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BE AT HOME IN A CROWD
While the ability to be at home in a crowd may offer the opportunity for a wider variety of discussions and ideas, it could also lead to a greater commitment to personal health. “Extroverts are sociable individuals who are action-oriented and very comfortable in groups,” says executive coach Jessica Houston. “These qualities make it more likely that an extrovert would enjoy being physically active as a member of a fitness group or a gym, which is great for accountability and consistency.” You don’t have to be a constant social butterfly at your gym, but getting to know a few of the regulars might help you form a stronger commitment to working out regularly.
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WATCH FOR OPPORTUNITIES
Whether standing in a line or waiting for an appointment, extroverts rarely let a chance to chat pass them by. “They are always looking for the next opportunity to meet people and join in the fun,” says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina. “They don’t wait for someone else to bring an opportunity to their attention -- they’re on the alert.” Because extroverts are eager to make connections with people, they often emanate a friendly, approachable air, which allows others to feel comfortable interacting with them. Open yourself up to these opportunities to talk to people and you may be surprised at the things you learn.
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ACT EXTROVERTED AND FIND HAPPINESS
Numerous studies have suggested a correlation between extraversion and happiness. But if you aren’t an extrovert, don’t despair. You can claim that same happiness for yourself. Research published in 2002 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that everyone -- even introverts -- are happier after socializing. Another 2012 study, published in the journal Emotion, showed that simply behaving in a more extroverted way can lead to greater positive emotions and happiness. And a third study from 2014, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, found the same holds true across various cultures. No matter where they are, whether they’re extroverted or introverted, those who feel or act more extroverted in daily situations are happier. So be satisfied with and proud of who you are, but occasionally step outside your introverted comfort zone. You have nothing to lose and some happiness to gain.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What are some things you’ve learned from extroverts? Can you think of some we left off this list? Are you -- or someone in your life -- an extrovert? Or are you an introvert but wish you had a little more of the extrovert in you? Why? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments below!
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