Are You an Extroverted or Introverted Listener?

I’ve talked much about extraversion and introversion recently on this blog.  It’s a subject that comes up much in my leadership and one I think is helpful in understanding how people relate to one another.  Communication is not just verbal, however, and recently I’ve been paying more attention to its other forms. Introversion and extroversion preferences appear to show up in written correspondence as well.
For example, I know some who appear extroverted in their writing styles.  They tend to ask questions which require an answer. They tend to add personal information about themselves in emails, in addition to the pertinent facts of the email.

And then there is the issue of listening…. I see introverted and extroverted preferences when it comes to the listening side of the communication process also. Do you know any extroverted listeners?

As an introvert, when I’m watching a movie, or listening to a speaker talk, I tend to process alone. My wife and oldest son, however, are extraverted listeners.  They prefer to listen “with” other people.  When I’m watching a movie with one of them, they are continually looking to see my reaction.  They especially want to know my emotional response…whether I laugh or shed a tear. To them, part of the experience is listening with me, not just beside me.

What about you?  Are you an extroverted or an introverted listener?

Do you think extroverted listeners are the same people who are extroverted talkers?

Help me process.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “Are You an Extroverted or Introverted Listener?

  1. After reading your post, I am definitely an extroverted listener. I am becoming more of an extroverted speaker, but have been extremely introverted in the past. I am a visual artist and believe most artists would be extroverted listeners because we place great value on the visual and emotional aspects of life. The old adage “talk is cheap” comes to mind. Be it nature or nurture or a combination of both, I am extremely sensitive to emotion inflection of someone’s voice or implications of their facial expressions. Not only do I find experiences more enjoyable when I know those with me find joy in it as well, knowing others are not enjoying the moment lessens my own level of satisfaction!

    As to whether extroverted listeners are also extroverted speakers, I would not be surprised if the opposite is more often true, extroverted listeners are introverted speakers. The is not to say an extroverted listener cannot also be an extroverted speaker. I do think that would take more effort, actively listening and actively talking, but not impossible. Introverted talkers may find extroverted listening comes naturally because, by your example of the movie, there is nothing to be said, it is interpreting emotions. Likewise, extroverted speakers would tend to listen introvertedly so they can absorb the information they are hearing and retain in for speaking later!

  2. I so agree with Kelly. My husband watches my reaction, too, and that has always bothered me! (I think I've called him 'weird' before.) Thank you so much for this post! It totally changed my outlook. My extroverted husband also enjoys watching people when they receive a gift, unwrap a present or receive good news. I, the introvert, prefer to look away. My 'happy moment' takes place when I think about giving a gift, his 'happy moment' takes place when he sees the person receive the gift. Thanks for putting these things into perspective!

    • Thanks Anna. I love how you look at the positive here from the other person's perspective. That builds a stronger relationship.

  3. Interesting! I am also an INTJ, but an extroverted listener as you describe it. I recently learned that I am an “expressive introvert.” I score very highly extroverted on the expressiveness measure but very highly introverted on other measures. I wonder if expressiveness and listening styles are related.

    • That could be. I am actually certified in Myers Briggs but it has been a long time since I had training. I may need to pull out my manual. Thanks!

  4. Hmmmm, this post strikes me as odd because I am an introvert, but I'm an extroverted listener. Perhaps it is some of my "extroverted thinking" coming to bear.

    • It strikes me as odd too…I don't have it figured out yet…just see it as a difference in communication. That's interesting that you are different from your preference type in your listening… Thanks

      • I wonder if it has to do with personality types. As an INTJ, my auxiliary mode is "extroverted thinking" which comes out in my desires to talk with people I'm close to about what I'm thinking about. There are extroverts who display introverted thinking (ENTP, ESTP). I wonder if extroverts of these personality types are introverted listeners.

        • I'm sure it does to a point, but I'm an INTJ also and I'm also introverted in my listening. I'm working on a post now about passive oriented introversion and control oriented introversion….not sure what any of this means…but it's got me thinking. Thanks

  5. I'm an extrovert in both categories. I found myself not even knowing how to succinctly comment without all the personal facts/details added in here, and I always look at the responses of those around me as we watch a movie together and "experience". Interesting as I never even realized. This has been a challenge in marriage because my husband (@masonconrad) is the exact opposite! What a balancing act we have to play even in being sensitive and understanding of each other…

  6. I'm definitely an introvert and my wife is an extrovert. I would have no reservations in going to a movie by myself. My wife would never consider going to a movie on her own. I never really put the two together as far as listening styles go. Thanks for the insight, Ron!

    • James, I honestly don't know, but I suspect it is. I'm trained in Myers Briggs, but honestly this is a new concept for me to consider.

  7. Whoa, now that explains a lot! My daughter and I are both introverts, and when watching movies, we like to experience the emotional parts alone. We cry more easily at the sad parts when we are alone, and feel uncomfortable when anyone notices our emotional reactions during movies, let alone comments on them.

    My husband, on the other hand, is an extrovert and often looks at us to see if we are reacting the same way he is to a movie. When he cries at sad or moving parts, he makes a point of checking to see if we are crying, and if not, commenting on our lack of empathy or emotion. This has always bothered me, but it never occurred to me that it was a function of our introvert/extrovert natures!

    I'll have to explain it to him, and to my daughter, so that we can respect each other's natures and understand each other better!

    Thanks, Ron!