Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How to Care for...People in General

Most of my favorite people are introverts. My husband, my sister, my daughter, my best friend, so naturally this graphic caught my attention. However my reaction to it did not match all the buzz about it as it went viral over facebook today.

I saw this today and as I read it I thought, "Well, yes. It's generally understood to be 'GOOD MANNERS.'" Basically every single one of those 12 items boils down to fundamental good manners and common sense, or stated as simply as the Golden Rule. I can't think of one extravert who wouldn't agree that it would be preferable to be treated in this way, let alone an introvert, so why don't we just call this poster "How to Care for People in General."

So, I'm going to write the extravert's version of this, assuming that they have different needs than introverts, as the graphic would indicate.

How to Care for Extraverts
  1. Remove all doors and window coverings. Respect their need for public displays of themselves at all time.
  2. Regularly humiliate them in public by poking fun at their weaknesses and making them a general laughing stock. They thrive on it.
  3. Shove them into any situation with no prior advance notice and expect them to fit in. They love that feeling of disorientation and uncertainty.
  4. Demand instant answers from them. They think best on their feet.
  5. Talk at the same time when they are saying something. They love the challenge of talking over you.
  6. Give them no notice of changes that may affect them. They love spontaneity.
  7. When they are immersed in a task, stop them abruptly. Again, they love spontaneity. Their minds are uniquely equipped to make sudden changes.
  8. Publicly reprimand them when they are wrong. 
  9. Teach them new skills in a setting where people are sure to see them floundering. They love that feeling of helping others to know that they struggle too.
  10. Make sure they have many friends who share few or none of their interests. They live by the philosophy of "The more the merrier!"
  11. Expect them to make lots of friends. Question them as to what is wrong when they are not surrounded by people.
  12. Respect their extraversion and don't expect them to be an introvert.
I am saying this tongue-in-cheek, of course. Extraverts and introverts do have different needs, but in today's society there is some great need to be identified, categorized, or diagnosed, then to be understood, and then to have a code of conduct by which all "others" must use to interact. There is a certain caution I feel when one group of people begins to tell another group of people how they should best be treated. Now we have one more category of individuals to handle with kid gloves. It seems that with the publication of this bestselling book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, there seems to be a lot of buzz about introverts, even though the Myers-Briggs personality inventory was extremely instrumental in sorting people out into all their 16 proper categories, starting with either "E" or "I"--and we were all supposed to have some aha!

(The biggest aha I have had is living with a man under the same roof. There is nothing that will make a person learn how to be nice to another person faster than marriage. Who needs Myers-Briggs?)

I won't suppose to be an expert here, because I have not done all kinds of research, nor have I written a book. But my point is that this is not a black-and-white thing. People need to be treated with respect and kindness, and if that is done, then it doesn't matter if you are "I" or "E"--Ultimately, there is great value in being yourself and not worrying about what everyone else thinks or who is caring for you. Just be.


  1. Yes, I agree with your thoughts.

    I would recommend getting Quiet from your library and reading it. I expected to get ideas for my husband and I (both introverts, to different degrees), but ended up with lots of ideas for my son. If you are educating a introverted daughter, you might enjoy skimming through the book for ideas. And the author agrees with you - it's not all as black & white as a subtitle & book reviews make it seem.

  2. I am an introvert...though not far over on the spectrum. My friends who are deep introverts / very quiet (or even shy) cannot accept that I could be an introvert, but I am, proving the point that it simply is not black and white. There are many kinds of introverts. I happen to be gregarious, outspoken, love to talk in front of a crowd, can perform off the cuff, but hate to interact with strangers and people I am not close to. I need my space and time alone to recharge. I like to stay home and have lots of quiet time in my head.

    I plan to read the book soon, but school reading is keeping me busy right now.

  3. Was glad to see that there was a graphic for the extraverts, as well, but for some reason it did not take on the viral nature that the introvert graphic did. Perhaps I know more introverts?


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