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5 Ways Introvert-Extrovert Couples Can Improve Communication

5 Ways Introvert-Extrovert Couples Can Improve Communication

If he’s the yin to your yang, there’s a good chance you are partnered with your exact opposite. In the beginning, this introvert-extrovert connection is delightful as you experience an attitude different from your own.

Over time, though, it can test your patience and make you question your compatibility.

  • Your mate wants to socialize while you want to stay home together. Aren’t you enough for him?
  • He wants to talk things out while you need time to process. Can’t she give you space to breathe?
  • It hurts your feelings when she tells you she needs time to herself. What is she not telling me?

It’s easy to take these differences personally or think your mate is just being difficult. That’s how my husband and I felt for a long time. It wasn’t until we began traveling the world together in 2010 – working, traveling, and being together 24/7 – that we learned the lessons it might have taken us years to notice and absorb in our old lifestyle.

Before you get to the communication hacks we’ve learned from being together 24/7 the past few years, first take the introvert-extrovert test to verify your hunch about yourself and your mate from introvert expert and author Susan Cain.

Know How Your Mate Recharges

I was sitting in a farmhouse in Slovenia, visiting with a friend at her kitchen table about books, life, and love. It was an introvert’s dream: a calm setting and an intimate conversation catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in some time.

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As we were discussing relationships and life, I mentioned that I’d recently learned the difference between introverts and extroverts through a book. It helped me realize what I needed to function at a better level, and I’d been implementing some new strategies with good result. My friend, also an introvert, shared her experience.

During our conversation, my husband walked through the kitchen, overhearing a part of our conversation. Later that night as we were lying in bed, he told me it was the single most important bit of information he’d ever learned about me. (And we’ve been together for 10 years.) It was like a light bulb went on in our relationship, erasing the shadows that were distorting our actions.

You see, when I told him earlier I was an introvert, he didn’t quite understand what I meant and I didn’t fully explain it. I also didn’t bother to figure out he was an extrovert. We both missed the introvert-extrovert connection that could drastically improve our communication.

  • Introverts get their energy from being alone and it is drained by being with other people. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t like being around people or that they are shy, just that the effort of being around them is a drain on their energy.
  • Extroverts get their energy from being with other people and it is drained by being alone. This doesn’t mean extroverts cannot be alone or that they are social butterflies, just that the interaction with other people is what energizes them.

Most people fall closer to the middle of the continuum from introvert to extrovert, so you needn’t worry that extroverts need to talk all the time or introverts just want to be left alone. But when you know where your partner is coming from and what helps them be at their best, it’s easier to create the right environment for them to excel (and reap the reward of having them at their best more often).

When you know how your mate needs to recharge and honor it, you’ll notice a drastic improvement in the mood and level of tension in your relationship.

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Pick Your Moment

Need to talk about something important with your partner? For the most productive outcome, pick your timing based on his or her best mood, not yours. This is especially true if you have a complaint or bad news to deliver.

If your mate is an extrovert, you have to allow plenty of time to talk it through. You can’t drop a bomb on the way out the door from work and expect to pick up the conversation later after you’ve had a chance to mull it over. He or she doesn’t want to mull. They want to work it out with you.

If your partner is more of an introvert, he or she will want some time to process and think things through, so giving them a heads up about a conversation beforehand will give them the necessary time to think it through before talking it out.

Don’t Take It Personally

It’s not about you. Your mate is who he is independent of you. Her need to talk things out when you want to be quiet, or his desire to go to the garage and tinker when you want to be together is not about you.

It is simply the way they recharge and get energy.

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Once you understand it’s all about them, it makes it easier to manage and less of a personal attack. In fact, once you start noticing your mate’s energy levels and how they recharge, you’ll want to encourage what they need so you can have more of them at their best.

In an introvert-extrovert relationship, your way is not the best way, and neither is your mate’s. It’s simply a different way of being in the world.

Compromise on Styles

It’s one thing to know your introvert/extrovert status and manage your own energy levels. It is an entirely other thing to merge that style with your mate.

After all, you can’t demand that since you’re an introvert, all conversations are scheduled out so you can have time to think them over. If you’re an extrovert, you can’t keep working to bring your mate ‘out of her shell’ because that’s never going to happen. We are who we are, and even though there are some very social introverts and somewhat shy extroverts, the way we get our energy doesn’t change.

In a relationship, this means compromise. The introvert has to talk about things before she gets enough time to process. The extrovert has to give his partner some space when he wants to be together.

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It’s hard to strike a 50/50 balance, so the more reasonable goal is to lean a bit one way or the other on an alternating basis. The extrovert gives the introvert space on a Saturday afternoon before a party so she can relax and recharge. The introvert stays at the party an hour longer for her partner so he can socialize more.

It doesn’t take much effort to reach a compromise when you understand what your partner needs to function at their best. And you know this small favor on your part will reap huge dividends for your partner and your relationship.

Appreciate Your Mate’s Influence

He’s the yin to your yang, and her influence makes you a better person. He may draw you into more social situations than you like, but it gives you the chance to meet more people you can then follow up with one-to-one and develop great friendships. She may be quieter and more observant, and you benefit from her keen insight into challenging situations.

Different is good, and appreciating how your mate differs from you can add a richness to your life you don’t have on your own. Rather than working to change the other person, it’s important to realize how your mate is changing you simply by being part of your life.

Once you know where you’re mate is coming from, you can much more easily travel down life’s road together.

Are you in a introvert-extrovert relationship? What is your favorite communication hack?

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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