Meeting in the Middle
We can learn a lot about ourselves and improve our relationships with others when we understand the base personality traits better known as “The Big Five.” While it seems oversimplified, it can help us understand the actions of others. Sometimes, we tend to feel that actions are only in reaction, when in many cases it is simply opposing forms of communication and personality.
The five (which you can research on your own) are: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. However, we are going to focus on the Extraversion Trait. Of the five personality traits, this one has a love-hate relationship that lies on opposite ends of the spectrum. Extroverts are people who have high levels of the Extraversion trait. They are energetic; tend to be easily excitable, talkative and very social. They are outgoing and thrive in social settings. Introverts are people who have low levels of the Extraversion trait. They are reserved and deplete energy in social situations. They are not talkative and tend to need periods of solitude on a regular basis.
High level extraversion:
Uninhibited in social situations
Finds it easy to make new friends
Fond of being the center of attention
More involved in the social world, enjoys interaction
Has a large circle of friends and acquaintances
Solves problems through discussion
Open and willing to share
Low level extraversion:
Reserved in social situations
Finds social interaction draining
Aversion to being the center of attention
Less involved in social world, enjoys solitude
Has a small circle of friends and acquaintances
Being introverted is often attached to being highly emotional or sensitive, vulnerable, reflective, anxious in social situations, and having negative views; none of which are true. Whereas being extroverted is attached to being thick-skinned, arrogant, and self-important; again, none of which are true.
In understanding the extreme opposites of Extraversion, we also know many people fall somewhere in the middle. So, when you invite that best friend of yours to a holiday ball and he or she declines, don’t take offense, instead realize that maybe that type of activity is only draining to them and they don’t enjoy it like you do. Or, if you are the one who leans more to the introverted and always has that friend asking you to go places, realize that friend likely thrives on social interaction and only wants to spend time with you. Instead, maybe you should suggest doing something in the middle and meet out to dinner one night.
By better understanding other personalities we can build strong, healthy relationships.