Introverts and Extroverts:

Close Encounters with Communicators of a Different Kind


Michael Forney


The paper is paper is written with the primary intent of enhancing my communication knowledge.  The comments and ideas expressed in this informational paper should not be perceived as authoritative. I have extremely limited knowledge in the area of communication theory.  As an extreme introvert, I’m simply trying gain greater understanding of the complexities associated with human interactions.


            Should you happen to cross paths with an alien from another planet, what would you say?  Would you be completely paralyzed with fear?  Would words prove to be extremely elusive?  It is quite conceivable that all of the communications skills that you acquired over the course of a lifetime would be rendered inept during your close encounter with a third kind.

            While the possibility of bumping into a resident from another galaxy is rather remote, it is quite common to cross paths with humans that exhibit communication styles and tendencies that are different, sometimes radically so, from our own. A foreign excursion, for instance, to a country with a different native tongue and set of customs can generate anxieties much akin to those felt when placed in close proximity to a saucer-flying, celestial neighbor.  These communication anxieties can be greatly mitigated by simply studying the language and practices of that foreign culture. The acquisition of knowledge does have a rather soothing influence on many of the anxieties that life tends to generate.

            A far more perplexing form of communication anxiety emerges when the other kind can speak your verbal language and is equally disposed to prevailing cultural values and expectations.  Such persons, while human, can appear as awkward and aloof as beings from the most remote reaches of the universe. Some persons may be quite reserved in their demeanor.  Some may chatter excessively over a broad range of disconnected topics.  Another person may have extreme difficulty maintaining eye contact.  A young child may stare in a relentless manner.  From a view devoid of dual perspective, these differences can be incorrectly perceived as being threatening and potentially dangerous.  Such common views, unfortunately, are sanctioned by the non-relinquishing forces of human selfishness.  Differing communication behaviors and styles should be embraced as colorful additions to the kaleidoscope of the human experience. As humans, we are quite different but yet the same.

            The primary purpose of this paper is to embark on a cursory exploration of the communication interactions among inhabitants of different communication worlds.  Those inhabitants are introverts and extroverts.  Why are their communication exchanges sometimes so awkward?  Can communication strategies be employed that will facilitate the flow of ideas and information among these differing communicators? To address these daunting questions, I had to appeal to a very diverse research community. This paper represents a humble attempt to illuminate some possible answers.  This paper is organized into three main sections.  The first section is devoted to developing background for better understanding both the development of personality and introvert-extrovert characteristics.  The second section of this paper provides a brief orientation concerning the Transactional Model of Communication.  This model provides context for the exploration efforts of this inquiry.  The transactional model can most effectively simulate the dynamic influences that govern human communication interactions.  The final section of this paper will consist of a series of communication scenarios among communicators with varying communication styles and tendencies.  In the context of the transactional model, these hypothetical scenarios are intended to illuminate those areas, if applicable, where the communication process breaks down between communicators.  If possible, communication strategies will be suggested to repair the communication process.


Section I: Some Helpful Background


The Development of Human Personality

            What is personality?  According to psychologist Gordon Allport (1961), “personality is a dynamic organization, inside the person, of psychological systems that create the person’s characteristic patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings.” Our unique personalities are the result of both very powerful innate influences such as genetics and external stimuli such as parental nurturing behaviors and peer influences.  A person’s personality greatly influences her perception of the world.  In fact, a unique circularity results: our personality influences our worldview and our worldview influences our ongoing personality development.

            Because of its nebulous and evolving nature, the human personality does not manifest itself in a rigidly, consistent manner.  Humans can exhibit varying personality traits under similar conditions and surroundings. Such inconsistencies are not a sign of some underlying defect in the fundamental structure of the human persona.  As Charles Carver and Michael Scheier point out in their interesting book Perspectives on Personality, this behavior is known as intrapersonal functioning.  According to these authors, “personality isn’t like a rubber stamp that you pound onto each situation you enter.  Instead, there are mechanisms or processes that go on inside you, leading you to act in ways you do.  Such processes can create a sense of continuity within the person, even if the person acts in different ways in different circumstances.  That is, you can feel the same processes engaged, even if the results differ in different situations” (2000, page 6).

            The mystical nature of human personality intensifies when examined on an interpersonal basis.  No two personalities are exactly the same. Human personality consists of a spectrum of traits and possibilities. As depicted in Figure 1 below, human personality ranges between the extremes of pure introversion and pure extroversion. As will be discussed shortly, all persons possess both introverted and extroverted characteristics.  The term ambivert, possessing both introverted and extroverted behaviors, most appropriately represents the manifestation of human personality.



            The types of personality traits exhibited by humans were significantly illuminated by the pioneering work of Carl Jung, the famed Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist. Jung (1923) based on patient studies observed that humans engaged in patterns of behavior that were both inward and outward directed. Persons whose behaviors were inward-influenced were considered to be introverts, the inhabitants of the inner world of thought and feelings.  Alternatively, persons whose behaviors were more outwardly-influenced were considered to be extroverts, the inhabitants of the outer world of things and people. 

In conjunction with these important observations, Jung was equally interested in how persons dealt with the reality of both the inner and outer worlds. He identified four ways in which this occurred.  The first was sensing, getting information by means of the senses.  The second was thinking, evaluating information or ideas rationally, logically.  The third was intuiting, a kind of perception that works outside of the usual conscious processes. This way is also referred to as judging.  The fourth was feeling, similar to thinking but linked to an emotional response.  Jung suggested that all persons possessed these personality traits; however, some traits tend to be more dominant than others.

Based on Jung’s contributions to personality theory, it is possible to place personality types at precise locations along the personality continuum. Specifically, there are sixteen personality combinations possible after determining if a person is more predisposed to introverted or extroverted tendencies.  These personality types are identified by a four letter sequence such as INFJ (introverted intuiting with feeling). This personality type, for instance, consists of persons that are serious students and workers who really want to contribute.  They are private and easily hurt.  They make good spouses, but tend to be physically reserved. People often think they are psychic (Myers & Myers, 1980).

The personality types identified by Jung serve as the primary standards on which many personality tests are conducted. On such test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a very popular and well studied personality test.

Introverts and Extroverts: A Closer Look

American culture is dominated by extroverted activities.  Our society encourages free expression of ideas and assertive behavior. We are encouraged to be outgoing.  Being labeled a “people-person” is a noteworthy achievement. Failure to mimic these social expectations generally results in the introvert being both misunderstood and ridiculed. Such is the plight of the introvert, a minority in the regular population {accounting for roughly 25%} but a majority in the gifted population (Gallagher, 1990; Hoehn & Birely, 1988).

Despite being both admonished to follow difficult social practices and being overwhelmingly outnumbered, the introverts appear to be a rather determined and adaptable group. Their achievements in many spheres of society are evident.  As researcher Arnold Henjum states “…studies provide evidence that there is a positive relationship between introversion and achievement.  It seems likely that the introvert’s vigilance or “stick to the task” accounts for a great deal of this success.  Also, the introvert’s self-sufficient, hard-working attitude and introspective, analytical style equips her/him very well for the demands of rigorous, abstract activities” (2001, page 41). These comments corroborate similar observations put forth by famed personality theorist, Hans Eysenck. He concluded that introverts appear to possess a greater capacity for concentrated work which may translate into advantages in educational achievements (Eysenck, 1971).

Given the wide gulf that exists among personality types, what culprits account for these differences?  The precise origins of both introversion and extroversion are not completely known. Research efforts have, however, significantly narrowed the possible explanations.  Biology and early social conditioning have provided significant clues.

A USA Today Magazine article reports that researchers at the University of Iowa have found more conclusive signs of different brain activity in introverts and extroverts based on cerebral blood flow and personality studies.  According to the article, “the researchers examined 18 healthy individuals utilizing positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which can generate a high-resolution image of the entire head.  The scans revealed that introverts have more activity in the frontal lobes of the brain and anterior, or front, thalamus.  These areas are activated when a person’s brain takes on internal processing such as remembering, problem-solving, and planning, Extroverts exhibit more activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus, or temporal lobes, and posterior thalamus.  These areas are typically thought to be more involved in sensory processing such as listening, watching, or driving….These variations in brain activity suggest that a lot of our individual differences have an underlying biological causes” (USA Today, March 2000).

In addition to the biological connections to personality type, early social conditioning patterns also play a critical role in personality development.  For children raised in supportive and nurturing environments, the prospects of venturing into the outer world are less intimidating.  Love and encouragement are vitally important ingredients in the formation of healthy and balanced personality types. Unfortunately, the distribution of these ingredients is not uniformly spread throughout the lives of young children.  As Edgard Friedenberg points out in his poignant book, The Vanishing Adolescent, “In their encounters with society, youngsters are frequently badly hurt.  They are sickened and terrified; they feel their pride break, cringe from the exposure of their privacy and are convulsed with humiliation as they realize that they cannot help cringing because their responses are pretty much beyond their control” (1965, page 35).  In response to such inhumane treatment, many youngsters have no choice but to seek refuge and false security in the most remote corners of the inner world.  Their eventual personality type is, in large part, not of their own doing or preference.

For purposes of better understanding their respective communication styles, it is important to examine some of the basic characteristics that tend to distinguish introverts from extroverts. As reflected in Table 1 below, the mannerisms and behaviors of these personality types can be extremely polarized.

Table 1: Introvert-Extrovert Characteristics





Can be happy alone

Reserved, quiet and deliberate

Are social-need people

Establish multiple fluid relationships

Dislike attending parties

Form a few deep attachments

Demonstrate high energy and noise

Engage in lots of activities

Need time alone to recharge

Concentrate well and deeply

Communicate with excitement

Have many best friends and talk to them often

Prefer non-group work

Communicate best one-on-one

Draw energy from people-loves parties

Prefer face-to-face communications

Cautious in meeting people

Think carefully before speaking

Lonely and restless when not with people

Respond quickly

Source: Characteristics extracted from article by Burress and Kaenzig (1999)


            A cursory examination of the indicated characteristics would strongly suggest that introverts and extroverts truly reside in different worlds.  However, exercising caution is necessary. Personality types lend themselves to the formation of hybrids. It is reasonable to assume that neither all introverts nor all extroverts are confined to these predetermined sets of behavioral categories. Some extroverts will relish opportunities at solitude and tranquility; some introverts can exhibit high energy and have a multitude of friends.

 As evidence of the diversity possible within a given personality type, Henjum identifies two categories of introverts…. “Type A introverts would include those self-sufficient, confident, hard-working, successful people who have firm goals, are self-actualizing and are able to interact very well with people when they must or when they choose to do so.  These people qualify as introverts because their general style could be described as “reserved” rather than shy….In other words, this type of person can function very adequately in social situations although on the whole he prefers activities that involve inner experience, introspection and subjectivity….Type B introverts would include those people who are shy, timid, and lacking in communication skills, very withdrawn and who have a low self concept.  In other words, these are people who have been “wounded” and are at a real disadvantage in our society.  They may have a strong fear of people and generally experience extreme dread when they must do something in front of others….Their self-consciousness and sensitivity contribute to their usual achievement or performance being below their apparent overall ability—this is particularly true when they are placed in a new situation (page 40).

From the proceeding passage, it is evident that some introverts have communication skills that are on par with the more socially-inclined extroverts.  The Type A introverts tend to be good actors in social settings.  Accordingly, they can readily discuss information and ideas in an ever-expanding number of circumstances.  On the other hand, the Type B introverts tend to suffer most terribly because of their communication deficiencies.  They are relegated to the most extreme fringes of society and forced to observe in silence and pseudo contentment.


Section II: The Transactional Model of Communication


            Now that a relatively firm psychological basis for introverted and extroverted personality has been established, the next logical step is to examine how such personalities intermingle in a communications context.

            Because of its ability to capture the dynamic processes inherent in interpersonal communications, the transactional model of communication (see Figure 2 below) will serve as the framework for examining introverted-extroverted oral communication exchanges. Originally developed by Dean Barnlund (1968), the transactional model views both communicators simultaneously as both receivers and senders of communication feedback. Because of its ability


Source: Based on an animated model developed by Daniel Yates, Seton Hall University


to replicate the multiple roles played by communicators, the transactional model is considered superior to preceding communication models such as the linear and interactive models.  Woods echoes this sentiment by stating that “the transactional model includes the strengths of earlier models and overcomes their weaknesses.  The transactional model recognizes that noise is present throughout interpersonal communication.  In addition, this model includes the feature of time to remind us that how people communicate varies over time” (2004, page 19).

            In Figure 2, the transactional model is depicted as a collection of integrated elements.  The key elements of the transactional model are: the communicators, the communication context, the communication channel, and noise.

            The communicators within the transactional model simultaneously, both consciously and unconsciously emit signals that stimulate the communication processes of others.  Within the mind of each communicator, reaction, at some level, is always occurring in response to some external stimuli.  The reaction could be in the form of perception, a detection of some external communication element.  The reaction could be from the location where meaning is assigned; where encoding- the transformation of externally received information into a form that seems most reasonable to the communicator- occurs.  The communicator transmits a response to the information received.  A communicator’s background or field of experience which is strongly influenced by the communicator’s beliefs, attitude, expectations, memory, etc. gives specific organization to the transmitted response.  Each reactionary element plays a critical role in linking the inner world to the outer world.  I am most interested in learning how the sequence of these communication events is influenced when the communicator is either extroverted or introverted.

            The interactions among communicators must take place in some communication context.  The context can be thought of as the paradigm in which communicators interact.  That paradigm could be a social setting such as an office party or sporting event.  Time also greatly influences the contextual paradigm.  For instance, communication exchanges that occur during early morning hours may differ in intensity levels from similar exchanges that occur at alternative points in time.

            Within the relevant communication context, the communication channel represents the “two-way information freeway” among communicators.  Messages are transported-both verbal and nonverbal-simultaneously among participants. Feedback motivates the development of more feedback.  The channel could have its origins in either the physical senses (such as the messages conveyed through eye contact) or some external medium (the exchange of email messages or a telephone conversation).

            The transactional model is constantly bombarded with noise influences.  As Woods indicates, “noise is anything that distorts communication so that it is more difficult for people to understand each other” (page 333).  Noise can originate from sources that are either internal or external to the communicator. Internal noises are physiological and mental forces that impact the communication process.  Physical pain, for instance, can potentially alter communication dynamics.  Similarly, the emotional state of a communicator can both enhance and detract from the communication experience.  A third type of noise that is particularly relevant for introvert-extrovert exchanges is the influence of genetics.  My brief review of the personality literature suggests that our individual genetic makeup exerts significant noise influences on our communication endeavors.  I think of genetic influences a silent form of noise.  That is, our individual genetic programming governs our communication behavior in a manner that is transparent to both our physical and psychological senses.

            The effective integration of the elements of the transactional model facilitates the level of understanding among communicators.  If the delicate connections between these elements should dissolve, subsequent communication efforts will be dramatically altered or even terminated.  My curiosity compels me to try to identify where and when the communication exchanges among introverts and extroverts starts to breakdown.  In effect, I’m most interested in trying to identify the communication elements that contribute to the termination of communication efforts among the differing personality types.  If precise elements can be identified, specific corrective strategies may then be employed to try and repair the resulting communication breakdowns.


Communication Agitation

            In studying the transactional model, it quickly became apparent that each element of the model serves as a critical link in the communication process.  Should any of the communication links become severely stressed, the entire communication activity becomes jeopardized.  Communication agitation begins to surface.  Communication agitation can be thought of as the internal pressure within a relevant communication element that when sufficiently elevated will cause that communication element to become weakened or inactive.  Communication agitation is the byproduct of noise and other sources of communication interference. Stated alternatively, noise causes the communication process to weaken, communication agitation is the effect of noise.

            Because the level of noise interference will vary, the degree of communication agitation within each element will also vary.  To capture the variation of communication agitation, a simple scaling system can be utilized.  The communication agitation scale (CAS) can be depicted as a numerical range of values that reflect agitation variations.  In Figure 3, the CAS is assumed to



range from zero to five. A CAS rating of zero suggests that no communication agitation has occurred in response to some source of interference.  The communication element has not been weakened.  Alternatively, a CAS rating of five implies that the communication element has become inactive due to the excessive level of agitation.  The communication process is terminated.  Between these extremes, the level of communication agitation ranges from slight agitation to severe agitation.


Section III: Introvert-Extrovert Communication Scenarios


            In this final section, I will attempt to construct some specific communication scenarios intended to highlight some of the communication ramifications related to introvert-extrovert information exchanges.  Within the context of the transactional model, I want to identify those critical communication elements, if any, that become agitated during the communication process.

            Given that communication exchanges can occur under virtually any set of circumstances, I will need to invoke a series of assumptions to greatly limit the scenario possibilities.  First, the characteristics of both a extroverted and introverted communicator must be restricted to those identified in Table 1.  Second, the context for communication exchanges will be a quiet, peaceful public park setting.  This restriction is intended to filter out potential sources of noise that may negatively influence the communication efforts of an introvert.  Third, the communication channel will be created through face-to-face communication.

            Based on these assumptions, I want to examine the following scenarios: (1) Extrovert-Extrovert (X-X), (2) Introvert (Type A)-Introvert (Type B) (IA-IB), (3) Extrovert- Introvert (Type A) (X-IA), and (4) Extrovert- Introvert (Type B) (X-IB).  In each scenario, I want to try to determine where the communication process starts to weaken.  Once the point(s) of weakness are identified, I will suggest strategies for restoring the communication process.


Scenario I:  Extrovert-Extrovert (X-X)

            In this scenario, two extroverted communicators are assumed to engage in a conversation.  Because of their underlying personality characteristics, the communication process proceeds quite efficiently.

            The context, in which the interaction occurs, is also not an impediment.  Being social beings, the surrounding environment does not deter the extrovert’s urges to make communication contact.

            The communication channel is open and messages and feedback flow quite vigorously among the two communicators.  The nonverbal messages are quite synchronized.  Eye contact, body language suggests a genuine interest in the information provided by the other communicator.  The energy and enthusiasm of the extroverted communicator enlivens channel activities, feedback is swiftly provided. The communication experience ascends to a higher level.

            Within the mind of each communicator, the internal processing of information feedback proceeds in a rather efficient manner.  Given that extroverts are generally skilled and effective communicators, the encoding/decoding of both verbal and nonverbal messages proceeds smoothly.  Should a communicated message prove unclear to one of the extroverted communicators, he/she will not be “shy” about requesting clarification and additional details.  The resulting transmission of processed and refined information is a relatively easy endeavor for the extroverts.

            Given their obvious skill at communication, extrovert communicators are not immune from the vast influences of culture, prior experiences, attitude, etc. that shape communicator perception. The existence of stereotypes, for instance, could introduce an element of complexity to an otherwise efficiently functioning communication process.  For example, one communicator’s negative attitude about the other communicator’s hair color could potentially sabotage the conversation.  Moreover, noise influences may also present formidable challenges.  Such influences are inherent in all human beings regardless of personality type.

            Based on my assessment of the extroverted communicator interactions, the elements of the transactional model appear relatively synchronized and free-flowing.  After accounting for noise and perceptual challenges, the degree of communication agitation would appear to have a minute influence on the critical elements of the communication process. Interestingly, the fluid nature of extroverted communication may itself serve as a major impediment when attempting to communicate with other personality types. The extrovert becomes accustomed to conversations in which responses are quick and laden with useful information.  Any conversations not meeting such expectations may contribute to communication agitation.


Scenario II:  Introvert (Type A)-Introvert (Type B) (IA-IB)

            Given the communication efficiency exhibited by extroverted communicators, the communication exchanges among introverted communicators appear to be quite intriguing for a different set of reasons.

            In this scenario, a Type A introvert and a Type B introvert engage in a conversation.  The tone and level of conversational intensity can differ significantly from that of the extroverts. While present in the conversation, the level of enthusiasm and energy may be more subdued.

            The context in which interactions among the introverts occurs should not be an impediment.  As stated in the scenario assumptions, the park setting reduces the external noise influences on introvert behavior.  Recent research findings do corroborate the premise that excessive external noise does cause increased levels of anxiety among introverts (for music influences see  Furnham and Allas (1999); for television influences see Furnham et. al. (1994)).

            In this scenario, the communication channel is open but both messages and feedback flow at a much more directed and slower pace.  The depth and quality of the information exchanged will typically reflect the intellectual advantages usually associated with the introvert’s introspective bent.  Nonverbal messages may be quite awkward in terms of execution.  Eye contact, body language may suggest a guarded, defensive posturing.  Because both communicators are inhabitants of the inner world (especially the Type B), the superficial nature of these nonverbal cues is recognized but discounted among these communicators.  Introverts show each other the respect and compassion that is often lacking in their outer world experiences.

            The internal processing of information by introverts occurs in a slower, less efficient manner.  The encoding/decoding of both verbal and nonverbal messages can require the employment of greater mental resources and effort.  Because of genetic conditioning and less conversational experience, assessing appropriate meaning and symbolism can be quite frustrating.  To compound matters, the introverted communicators may be less inclined to request clarification and additional details.  Accordingly, the communication exchanges among introverts will probably be of relatively shorter duration.  Communication, however, has occurred and such occurrences took place under mutually respectful conditions.  Being respected is a valued and rewarding source of information for introverts.

            Introverted communicators are also not immune from the vast influences that shape perception.  Influences such as culture, attitude, etc. do indeed invade introverted communication exchanges.  However, the introspective tendencies of introverts may exempt them, at some level, from the development of deeply rooted stereotypes.  That is, the introverts are preoccupied with inner world activities so the gravity and significance of many outer world events goes unnoticed.  If true, such liberation would partially explain why introverts are less preoccupied with superficial nonverbal behavior.  More so than for the extroverts, noise influences present especially formidable challenges for introverted communicators.

            Based on this assessment of introverted communicators, the elements of the transactional model do exhibit some degree of communication agitation.  The communication channel is characterized by slower moving feedback and verbal messaging.  The transmission of nonverbal messages is done in an awkward manner.  Furthermore, the internal decoding/encoding behavior of introverts can be quite disjointed and rather clumsy.  The resulting communication inefficiency is inherently related to both genetic influences and limited conversational experience.  Interestingly, informational exchanges do seem to work among introverts. In spite of the sputtering and puffs of smoke, their successful, brief exchanges of information seem to be driven by the energy emitted from both mutual respect and having a common residency in the inner world.


Scenario III: Extrovert-Introvert (Type A) (X-IA)

            Unlike the previous two scenarios, this scenario involves inhabitants from different worlds.  The Type A introvert, however, has developed the ability to temporarily adapt to the peculiarities of the outer world.  For this reason, the Type A’s behavior should be thought of as illusionary.  That is, what is initially observed concerning the Type A’s communication behavior will differ significantly from his/her behavior later in the communication process.  Eventually, the Type A must retreat back to the inner world to both recharge and refocus.  This behavior is verified by the comments of fellow Type A introvert, Jonathan Rauch, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly.  Mr. Raunch states that “after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. [His] own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing…..For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.  Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”(2003, page 2)  This inherent behavior of the Type A introvert makes this particular scenario quite interesting.

            Again, the context in which the communication occurs is controlled and does not impede the interactions among these two participants.

            Initially, the activities within the communication channel closely resemble that of the (X-X) scenario.  The Type A does a wonderful job of “acting” as an extrovert.  Both verbal and nonverbal messages flow freely and simultaneously among the two communicators.  The communication channel is enlivened with energy and enthusiasm.  However, once the communication interactions proceed beyond the tolerance threshold of the Type A, the dynamics within the communication channel start to change significantly.  As the communication illusion of the Type A begins to disintegrate, communication agitation begins to surface.  The Type A may start to exhibit awkward communication tendencies.  A Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde transformation is starting to unfold.  The feedback now provided by the Type A becomes less generous and insightful.  The nonverbal messages such as distorted body language also start to highlight the communication transformation.

            Being quite perceptive, the extrovert senses the change occurring in this face-to-face encounter.  The now diminished quality of feedback creates communication agitation within the extrovert.  The encoding/decoding processes within the extrovert become less efficient due to the inferior quality of feedback being received.  The resulting verbal messages transmitted by the extrovert may be a series of questions such as, “Are you okay?”, and “Did I say something wrong?”  A vicious, downward communication spiral begins to occur.  Due to his weakened state, the introvert provides even less feedback.  The level of communication agitation is now severely elevated for both communicators.  The communication process is rapidly deteriorating.

            Due to the transformation of this communication experience, the extrovert’s perception of the introvert may now become influenced by some of the cultural stereotypes levied against introverts.  Stereotypes such as introverts are dull and aloof.  The attitude of the extrovert will probably change in a negative direction since communication expectations are not being satisfied.

            Based on my assessment of this scenario, the elements of the transactional model were initially nicely synchronized and free from communication agitation.  As the communication scenario continued, the communication process began to rapidly deteriorate.  The degree of communication agitation proceeded to the high end of the CAS.  To prevent such future communication meltdown, it is apparent that the introvert must develop some strategy for exiting the conversation prior to significant transformation.  A simple request to continue the conversation at a later time may be all that is needed.  While this scenario initially showed promise, the scenario also verifies that extroverts and introverts are truly inhabitants of different worlds.


Scenario IV:  Extrovert-Introvert (Type B) (X-IB)

            In this final scenario, the two participants have polarized communication capabilities.  In general, the extrovert has good communication skills.  The Type B introvert lacks, what are considered, good communication skills.  A successful communication experience among these two participants would appear to be unlikely.  The extrovert communicates with excitement and enjoys people. The Type B is wounded and typically afraid of other people.

            Having controlled for potential contextual influences, the elements of the communication channel are quickly subjected to extreme communication agitation.  A face-to-face encounter among these two participants can be extremely awkward and difficult.  The extrovert is confused by the “strange and distorted” mannerisms of the Type B.  The Type B’s behavior is likely the scars that resulted from early-life, outer world experiences.  Each of these participants is equally confused by the other.

            Due to the mutual confusion and anguish, the interactions among these two may actually end before starting.  The tragedy of this aborted communication attempt is that these two humans do not get an opportunity to benefit from the life experiences of the other.  The extrovert could learn much from the introvert, and vice versa.  Life-balancing and personal growth opportunities are lost forever.  But does communication termination have to be the only outcome?

            Based on my assessment of this scenario, the irrational perspective of each participant is the main culprit that sidetracks this communication exchange.

            To rectify this impasse, both parties need a strong dose of dual perspective.  That is, the extrovert should consider the inner world perspective.  The introvert should consider the outer world point-of-view.  Moreover, the extrovert would need to practice patience and empathetic listening.  Giving the intellectual bent of many introverts, the knowledge base of the extrovert could be enhanced by making such efforts.  To reduce the transmission of undesirable nonverbal cues, the introvert should consider the SOFTEN technique.  Developed by Don Gabor, a recognized communication expert, the SOFTEN technique is designed to reduce of “soften” the display of certain nonverbal behaviors.  In the SOFTEN acronym, the S stands for smile, the O stands for open posture (no folded arms), the F suggest adopting a forward lean during conversations ( to show interest), the T stands for touch (such as a handshake), the E stands for eye contact, and N stands for nodding to again show conversational interest (Gabor, 2001).  Lastly, both parties could potentially experience fruitful information exchanges by recognizing the human bond that exists among them.  An appreciation of this bond should generate a celebration of differences and promote greater understanding and acceptance.

            In conclusion, the communication scenarios reviewed hold promise for fruitful exchanges of information (see attachment for a summary of the CAS results assumed for each scenario).  Clearly, the extrovert-introvert exchanges will require some effort to maintain and support.  The mutual benefits to be gained should encourage such efforts.  We typically learn the most from those that we know the least about.  Differing communication behaviors and styles are truly the colorful additions to the kaleidoscope of the human experience.  So, should a communicator of a different kind cross your path, what should you do?  I would suggest saying hello, showing respect, being willing to listen, and being open to learning.



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