Why I Got Mad At a Cute Cartoon About Introverts
A few months ago, my Facebook feed was filled with reposts of a cartoon about how introverts and extroverts are polite in different ways. It was a cute cartoon by a talented cartoonist with a unique perspective, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the cartoon made me grumpy.
My friends were understandably confused as to why I would dislike a well-meaning cartoon, particularly since I’m a major introvert myself. I will attempt to explain by working through the cartoon.
Scenarios 1 and 2
This scenario shows two different ways of responding to an invitation from someone (I will call this unseen person Morgan). The Extrovert politely accepts Morgan’s invitation, while the Introvert declines in a manner that reflects poorly on introverts.
The Introvert is not interested in coming in to chat/dinner, and that is totally fine! However, the introvert is suggesting that Morgan’s invitation is not sincere, and that’s kind of rude! Plus, Morgan can just reply with a super-awkward “it’s no trouble at all” which just makes things more uncomfortable.
SUGGESTION TO THE INTROVERT: Don’t try to read minds! You don’t have to pretend you’re doing Morgan a favor. “Thanks, but now isn’t a good time” works great, and Morgan won’t feel pressured to explain that they are not being inconvenienced.
This is a hypothetical scenario in a cute cartoon, so it’s not clear how much Morgan has talked to the Introvert and Extrovert before they made their respective statements. The Extrovert seems to be coming on a little strong, and they’d probably benefit from pacing themselves a bit and gauging Morgan’s interest. On the other hand, the Introvert has AGAIN acted as if they are doing Morgan a behavior by pre-emptively deciding they are not interested being asked questions.
SUGGESTION TO THE INTROVERT: Don’t jump to conclusions about Morgan’s willingness to be asked questions. If the Introvert wants to take is slow, that is completely fine and understandable. Pretending it is for Morgan’s benefit just perpetuates the myth that there is something wrong with being an introvert.
The Introvert is being pretty cool here, they are stating the situation they prefer, not assuming what Morgan thinks would work best. The Extrovert, on the other hand is saying “I feel”, but they’re kind of asserting what Morgan feels.
SUGGESTION TO THE EXTROVERT: If the Extrovert feels like they owe Morgan respect, ask Morgan what they are most comfortable with.
If Extrovert has created a comfortable space where Morgan can say “Id rather not talk right now”, then Extrovert is doing fine. Introvert, on the other hand is being a lousy friend in a time of need by jumping to conclusions about what Morgan wants.
SUGGESTION TO THE INTROVERT: If you want to help someone, find out from them how they would like to be helped. Don’t assume it is the option that you would pick.
The world often misunderstands introverts, and it is important that we all understand and accept these different ways of interacting. However, making assumptions about others and pretending you’re doing someone a favor in order to get out of a situation are not inherently introvert qualities. They are bad behavioral habits found in both temperaments. People are happier when they do less of this, I don’t want anyone to think it’s an inherent component of being an introvert!
Please note that this is in no way a critique of the fine work at http://introvertdoodles.com/ , this particular cartoon just got me thinking.