Are you OK?
Have you ever been asked this question when everything is fine? And did you think that you appeared fine? I was at a workshop on a topic that was very interesting to me. I thought I was contributing plenty to the conversations both for the large group and at my table. On a break, the facilitator asked me if I was OK. She said she couldn’t tell if I was enjoying the workshop or perhaps I was being pensive. Yes, pensive! I told her that “pensive” was a great way to describe me.
engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought: a pensive mood.
How is pensive mistaken for something being wrong? I am an introvert. I was built to think. I naturally turn to my inner world of ideas. This can be a great strength… often, as I am lost in thought, I have come up with creative and innovative ideas. But how does it look to others when I am lost in thought? I have learned, especially in one-on-one conversations, to let others know when I am pausing a moment to ponder something. A big difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts think and then speak and extroverts speak in order to think. So to some that do not understand introversion, it may seem like I am being too “quiet.” Many extroverts tend to speak in a “flow of consciousness” sharing every thought they have, because they are speaking to think. As an introvert, I’m not sharing all of my thoughts, but rather my mind is processing them internally, synthesizing ideas, and coming up with a very succinct response. As an introvert, your conversation partners don’t see all of the many thoughts buzzing around in your head. They see only what you choose to share. An extrovert that speaks to think may appear to be more engaged as most of their thoughts are being verbalized. I am not saying that one way is right or wrong, but I am saying that these differences need to be understood.
We all still have much work to do to spread the word about the differences, strengths, and needs of introverts and extroverts. Here are a few things I try to remember when conversing with others:
- I DO need to make sure that I am engaged in the conversation.
- I DO need to let people know when I am taking time to think.
- And I DO need to share those brilliant ideas that come when I am deep in thought.
So next time someone asks… Yes, you are ok! In fact you are more than ok! Your amazing mind is doing its work and you are coming up with brilliant ideas.