Have you ever been judged wrongfully? Maybe your actions or lack of actions made someone feel that you were selfish or uncaring. Maybe a decision you made was misunderstood. Or maybe people don’t understand your intentions at all.
It seems this may be an even bigger problem for introverts. Introverts naturally process thoughts and ideas internally, usually thinking first before speaking. So with thinking first and speaking second, introverts are less likely to share everything. In addition, it seems that many introverts prefer to keep things to themselves, whether they realize it or not. Extroverts tend to process thoughts and ideas externally or out loud, so naturally, much more information is shared, and in many cases, they prefer to share everything. I was discussing this difference with a fellow introvert recently. When I mentioned the contrast in sharing between introverts and extroverts, it really helped her better understand her extroverted husband. She said, “That’s why I have to watch what he says around my mother,” meaning that he thinks out loud and may not consider the impact of what he is saying. The point is that extroverts naturally share more information.
Both at work and in my personal life, I have been judged on various decisions I have made by others who have not had all of the facts that I did. My introverted mind is constantly thinking of ideas and connecting facts. I spend a good deal of time assessing a situation, the variables and the impact of each outcome, so when I come to a decision, I’m confident in it. I assume that others should respect my choice, even though I haven’t necessarily shared my entire thought process to get there.
However, I’ve found that this assumption can cause confusion and judgement on the part of others who may not grasp the reasons and rationale behind my decisions. And sometimes I forget that they don’t have access to all the thoughts in my head. This judgement can cause problems in the situation and potentially drive a wedge in the relationship. Over the years, I’ve learned that when I try and present my reasons and explain my decisions as much as possible, others are better able to accept my decisions instead of judging me for my choice. As an introvert, it’s sometimes hard to share a little bit of yourself, but it can make a difference in the other party’s view of you and your choices.
So what if you don’t understand someone else’s motives? Before you tell yourself a story that they are a terrible person, please have a conversation and seek to look at things from their perspective. At the same time, hopefully they can get a better understanding of your point of view.
If you’re an introvert like me, you may have to work a little harder at having your ideas and intentions accepted. It’s easy to become upset when you feel judged or misunderstood. But by taking a little time to see the other person’s position, and sharing enough of yourself to help them to see yours, can make both your position on the issue and your relationship with the other person stronger.