Introvert Survival: Handling Extrovert Interrogations

When a Loud person asks you a question it is best to give a quick, snappy, truthful answer.
Directly stonewalling or displaying reluctance to answer personal questions from someone you don’t trust yet is sure to get very negative reactions in the workplace and other social environments.
Ironically, the ‘friendly’ questions that many extroverts ask are only friendly if you answer them to their satisfaction and do it quickly.

When someone asks a series of questions, what you learn from one question leads to the next question. So be truthful, but brief; snappy, yet vague.  Just neglect to give them anything that would allow them to continue inquiring.
I needn’t be the whole truth.  The answers only need be something that can be construed as true.

The key is that short, vague, honest answers are boring answers.  Most extroverts assume that someone who gives a boring first impression is in fact boring.  90% of them will leave you alone if you can convince them you are socially acceptable but boring.
The main thing is to stop the questioning quickly.  Once they start asking detailed questions about the latest pop stars, tv shows, fashion trends, sports cars, and athletes, the game’s up.
Once they start giving you stories about their favorite experiences at night clubs and other social venues, they will start to notice that you aren’t responding with your own equally thrilling anecdotes.
At some point they pause in between their sentences and say “Wow, you’re really quiet.”

Unfortunately, there’s the 10% of truly Loud people who don’t go away no matter how uniform you can make yourself.  Worst of all, there’s authority figures and important people to whom you can’t afford to give any kind of bad impression.

When a Loud person with power over your life or your job starts asking ‘friendly’ questions, the unmitigated truth could be devastating.  Boring answers could cost you their good graces.  There’s no easy way out of this one, which is just one reason why introverts aren’t usually going to rise to the top in an organization.  It takes the touch of a social expert to figure out what the lead extrovert wants to hear and how he or she wants to hear it.

Zygmunt blogs at Kingdom of Introversion (and elsewhere).

Introvert Survival: Handling Extrovert Interrogations appears here by permission.

[image via Flickr/Creative Commons]

on 08/1/11 in featured, Society | No Comments | Read More

Leave a Reply