“How extroverts can thrive in isolation, and how to support them”

Quiet Time Coaching Episode 167

Last week I recorded some tips to help introverts pilgrimage through these times of social isolation in a spiritually healthy manner. This week, we focus on extroverts.
As last time, I’m going to split the article into two parts. Part one – how an extrovert can help themselves. Part two – how others can support an extrovert. Specifically, I’m going to focus on spiritual matters more than physical and mental health issues. If you’re struggling with your mental health I strongly suggest you contact a medical professional.

Andy sent me this helpful PDF:

A few practical suggestions for the extrovert:
Part one – how an extrovert can help themselves spirituallyThe first three points from last week also apply here, so I will not repeat them in detail. See last week’s recording for more detail.

  1. Know yourself: Know what you’re aiming for: Consider what has helped you in the past. 
  2. Make a plan to connect. Rob Payne sent me this thought: “Extroverts get energy from people so I guess planning times with people helps.” Quite so, Rob. Just because you are an extrovert, does not mean you will automatically connect with people. Extroverts can be just as selfish as introverts! Make a plan. Find out whether your friends are working from home or not and work around their schedule. Set up times for a phone call or a video conversation. Extroverts who do not connect with people outside their home are more likely to become troublesome to themselves and others in their home.  Use your people connecting energy to comfort and inspire other people. We need the extroverts!
  3. Take time to reflect and learn. This might not be natural for you extroverts, but again, Rob has a good point: “It might be helpful for extroverts to use the ‘extra’ time to ‘consider’ (Heb 10.24) how they might encourage others and to read and reflect more to stimulate thinking that will inform interactions with more introverted people.” This could be the God-given opportunity you need to understand people better – especially those who are different from you.  Could you read up on how to connect well with introverts?
  4. Creativity.  Not all extroverts are creative, but many are. Perhaps you could interview some introverts and ask them in what ways an extrovert like you could be helpful to them. Then, you could write a blog or record a podcast or send your thoughts to me and I can spread the word. If you an able communicator, could you connect with the wider world through YouTube, facebook etc. Several people I know have started podcasts. A musician friend of mine has been taking his keyboard and amp outside onto his driveway and playing songs on Thursdays at 8pm as part of clapping for carers. What could you do? 
  5. Spiritual project. Why not take on a spiritual project? I’ve decided to study Psalm 23 in depth. I’m using Bible software, books, commentaries, and YouTube videos/podcasts. 

Part two – how others can support an extrovert spirituallyThe application of these principles and practicals may be a little different depending on whether you are living with an extrovert or contacting them via phone or some other means. Make adjustments as necessary.

  1. Listen. Commonly, extroverts are good talkers. They need you to listen. Don’t contradict or correct them every time you sense they are mistaken. Your listening ear is more important than the accuracy of your judgement. Extroverts will most likely self-correct as they talk things out. However, listening is not passive. Be an active listener. Encourage your extrovert companion. Let them know you are really interested, genuinely, in what they have to say. Use the magic phrase, “Tell me more” as many times as necessary until they have exhausted their need to communicate.
  2. Be a coach. Depending on the personality of your extrovert friend, they may need you to be in coach mode to help them thrive. In other words, be the catalyst that helps them to discover what will help them fly spiritually. You could make suggestions, but only if you’ve already asked permission. Generally it would be better to simply ask good questions to help them think through their situation. If they are struggling with something, ask them what they’re aiming for.  Ask them why that matters to them. Ask them to describe similar times in the past when they’ve had victories. Ask them how you can be helpful to them.
  3. Don’t mistake energy for spiritual zeal. Extroverts are not always the best judge of their sincerity and purity. Your extrovert friend might be energetic, jolly and loud. Such external manifestations of the extroversion may be completely at odds with the internal realities of their spirituality. Pray to be discerning, and when you sense it is appropriate, ask a gentle probing question. Something like, “I’m really enjoying a conversation. Your energy is refreshing my spirit. I just wonder if I could ask something. How are you and the Lord?”. Something simple and general is better most of the time and something complex and specific. Give your extrovert buddy room for manoeuvre.

What have I missed? If you’re an extrovert, what helps you? 

Our model, always, is Jesus – perfectly blended with the best of introverted and extroverted tendencies.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John