One thing middle age has done for me is make me more aware of who I really am and how I respond to life. I can wish I was wired differently, I can somewhat adapt my personality to my environment, and I can’t use my personality as an excuse for bad behavior, but I am coming to terms with how God made me. He made me an Introvert. In recent years I have come to terms with how the public side of me behaves in an extremely extroverted world. On Sundays, because I know and love our people and have a Kingdom mindset, I’m the extroverted pastor, but as my Myers Briggs indicates, I’m actually a preferred Introvert. (BTW, it amazes me how many pastors I know who are Introverts.)
To most Extroverts entering a crowded room of unknown people is not an awkward setting, but to someone wired like me, entering that same room, when not purposefully “working”, forces me into my introverted shell.
Here’s how I tend to respond when I enter a room full of people I don’t know:
- I find something to occupy my time – Play with my phone, doodle on paper, read my Kindle (you wonder why I carry this stuff…)
- I pretend I don’t see people…often I don’t…but I’m likely to pretend just in case.
- I hide in the lobby until the last possible moment…
- I find someone I do know and latch on to them…
- I secretly hope some likable Extrovert will approach me and break the ice… (Really, it’s not that I don’t want to talk, it’s just starting the conversation that’s often difficult.)
The fact that an Introvert is in crowds of people does not mean he or she is comfortable beginning conversations. It also doesn’t mean the Introvert has no care or concern for the people in the room or that he or she doesn’t like being around people. It doesn’t even mean the Introvert has nothing to say, although he or she would probably prefer not to be put on the spot to say it. It’s that an Introvert’s preferred interaction with people is often more of listening than it is of talking and more one-to-one than speaking in large groups at the same time. For some reason, that I don’t understand, an Introvert can speak to a large crowd (the larger the better), but when it comes to having group conversation, an Introvert is more likely to feel awkward. (Hopefully some other Introverts will help me out with this post.)
Would you be considered an Introvert or an Extrovert? Introverts, how do you handle awkward situations?
I’m especially interested in hearing from Introverted pastors and other leaders. How do you respond to the crowded room?