Glasses clink. A low murmur ripples over the room. A burst of laughter jars everyone until the murmur returns.
Finger foods. Cocktails. Mocktails. It doesn’t matter. Everyone stands around looking rather sophisticated—right up to the moment someone mentions the “V” word. Worse than any “foul” word on the planet, the “V” word will drag out both physical and verbal claws.
“I’m an [insert prefix here] —vert, why?”
A gasp arises from those close enough to hear.
The battle begins. Extroverts slam the mousy introverts. Introverts (on their way out the door) insist that louder isn’t better. It’s just louder (cue the movie Sabrina here–10 points if you know why). Ambiverts, straddle the line drawn on the dance floor and try to be peacemakers before being drawn back and forth across it as a tug of war takes place.
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I’ve got a secret for you.
No vert is any better than any other. Introverts are no more beneficial to society than extroverts are. Ambiverts aren’t “more balanced.” They still need to recharge.
And that’s the point. All this “verting” has to do with is how you recharge your mental battery so you can keep going. Introverts need an infusion of gasoline. Extroverts pile into the battery charger together and all charge up again. Ambiverts jut plugin or head on over to the fuel pump—either one works for them.
Just like everyone needs food and sleep to keep their bodies going, we need to “recharge,” too. We all get emotionally drained and exhausted. It’s a fact of life. What I’d say is that most of us tend to like to “recharge” longer than we really need to. And I submit this is where the battle really is. The extroverts think the introverts are overdoing that “alone time.” The introverts are convinced the extroverts are killing them with the need to be together “all the time.” And those poor ambiverts—they’re suffering from “split personality disorder” and can’t with either camp no matter how they try.
Best way to recharge your mental battery most efficiently? That depends on you!
I think there are probably a lot more ambiverts than we realize. I doubt there are as many rigid “verts” as the other camps think. And, for ambiverts, the key might be variety. Spent all day with people at the company picnic? Why not:
- Hole up in the backyard with a book or on the couch with a movie?
- Take a bath or a walk on a quiet path near home. Close your eyes—think.
- Close your eyes—think.
Or, if you spent all day writing alone or playing a solitary round of golf… Maybe you took a drive through the country to see the wildflowers or do a little wine tasting. You’re home and drained…
- Try setting up a game night.
- Get friends to come over for a barbecue.
- Or, compromise. Meet everyone for a movie and after movie coffee and critique.
The point is, if you’re an ambivert and are emotionally drained, you might recharge best by doing the opposite of what you have been doing all day.
Just make sure that if your attempts fail, you don’t quit. Recharge your mental battery. Somehow.
Look, I know you need human interaction. You crave conversation. You’ve been stuck in a cubicle all day and forget the ten minutes of gabbing in the break room every hour, you’re drained. The bucket is dry, and the only way to fill it up is to get out there and mingle—with someone!
So do it. Seriously, do it.
- Call a friend to go get coffee and talk.
- Call Mom! Seriously.
- Go down to the park and join a pickup game of basketball or bring a Frisbee and get someone to join you in a game.
But here’s the thing. Once you no longer feel drained? Don’t stop there. This is where I think a delicate balance comes in. If you’re in a rush to do something, you might jut break off and run home to finish your solitary project—you know, building your replica of Gibbs’ boat in your basement. You were working on it until you just had to get out and mingle. And that was smart of you. But keep going a little longer.
Just a little longer. Don’t let guilt bully you into quitting before you’re 100% fully charged. If you can keep it up just a little longer—fill that bucket until another drop won’t stay—then do it.
Running on fumes isn’t the answer.
However, I think a lot of people tend to like to stay in charging mode. So, remember. You don’t need to be with people 24/7. You don’t even need that recharge every waking hour of every day. Acknowledge that work doesn’t always fill that charge need, but don’t use that as an excuse to avoid being alone with yourself in your own thoughts. Some extroverts do that.
Resist it. Recharge your mental battery, recharge a little more, and then withdraw. You’ll help yourself and you’ll ensure that you don’t wear out your welcome with your friends. Because no matter how extroverted THEY all are… like the ambiverts, we all need variety. Step back now and then. Or, in the KJV words of Solomon, “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house lest he weary of thee and hate thee.” (Sorry, but I think it just sounds cooler in Elizabethan English!)
As an introvert myself, I’m preaching to this choir of one more than anything. But here’s the thing. You need time alone to recharge your mental battery. You need peace—not necessarily quiet. I know some introverts who get that peace from blasting heavy metal! But you need solitude—even if it’s in a roomful of people.
Do it. Take that time when you start feeling like you can’t listen to one more question, one more suggestion, answer one more phone call. When life overwhelms you, step back. And don’t feel guilty about it. If your best friend calls and wants a coffee date, there’s nothing wrong with not being her recharge while you recharge. But… this is your friend. If she’s having a life crisis… run on fumes for a bit while you help.
In my experience, introverts can become a little too protective of their “recharge time.” Don’t let that happen. Our need to get some solitude tends to feed our more selfish sides. And… give many of us half a chance, and we’ll recharge indefinitely. That’s not any healthier than running on those fumes we discussed.
You know how they used to say that computer and phone batteries need to drain all the way before being recharged now and then? Yeah. Pretend that’s good for your body and go for it. Drain yourself. But then get a good recharge.
Look, for many of us, life IS a drain. All that interaction with people in the workforce leaves us little time for deep thinking. It sucks the brain cells right out of us. So when we get home, we need time to decompress. A bath, half an hour with the door closed… somewhere.
Hint to the extroverts and introverts. If your friend or loved one is spending a LOT of time in the bathroom… don’t assume they’re constipated. Sometimes it’s the only place you can go where people will leave you alone.
Unless you’re a mom. Then you can pretty much forget ever having peace again. Or something.
One reminder before I step away from this skirmish of the battle of the verts.
Introvert is not synonymous with shy. There are many gregarious introverts and there are actually shy extroverts. Some of us are both—shy introverts who force themselves to interact and engage as a coping mechanism.
Conversely, extrovert is not synonymous with gregarious. Like I said, shy extroverts exist. Most extroverts I know aren’t life of the party types. Because your “vert” type is only about your method of recharging. And there are a lot of quiet people who recharge in a group. They may not talk a lot, they may not hold center stage EVER. But they need that group to face another three-hour round-trip commute tomorrow.
Just don’t confuse personality types with verts. They aren’t even close to the same thing.
And whatever you do, make sure you recharge your mental battery. OFTEN.