Energy-Sucking Extroverts

Badger's finally poked his head out of his hut, and damn but it's good to have him back. His latest post on the yawning gap in understanding between introverts and extroverts is a fine work in and of itself, but here's the best bit:
My experience with super-extroverted people has been entirely not that they actually want to get to know me. My experience has been more like flirting with a vampire – you can sense quickly that they are seeking to take your energy. The conversation quickly becomes an elaborate dance where the other party desperately tries to bait me into giving them something (a joke, a smile, a personal detail) that stimulates them. Of course, like the first free hit, it just leads to them wanting more and more. It’s been the revolving door of invasive but irrelevant personal questions peppered with their own content-free anecdotes and frat-like infusions of enthusiasm trying to pump up my own emotional state to match theirs.
 It doesn't end there:
The contrast in the two articles’ frames is striking. Rauch’s piece was measured, unapologetic and expository, with a tone of “I don’t operate exactly how you do, I’d appreciate if you could keep that in mind.” Lyons’ response is conversely histrionic – “I have personal problems that I’ve rationalized as an immutable trait. Will you please tell me it’s OK?”
Uber-extroverts are indeed utterly exhausting to be around. And they're not exactly the nicest people to deal with either. I realise that this sounds like I'm taking a sample size of N = 1 and extrapolating from it, but trust me on this- both Badger and I, and plenty of guys like us, have had to deal with many, many super-extroverts in our time, and the results are invariably the same. Introverts, who are for the most part neither shy nor insecure, have to deal with extroverts, who for the most part are largely irritating and superfluous, and find the experience to be extremely taxing.

There was a chap at work who was and is pretty much exactly as Badger describes a super-extrovert: always talking, always rabbiting on about the most inconsequential nonsense, such as the stock price of a certain company or the latest story on the news, in a voice like a foghorn. I held this guy in particular contempt because he was almost as smart as me, and almost as good at fixing problems as I am, yet never bothered to use his God-given skills and talents for anything. In the entire time that I knew him, he never bothered to do a lick of work; instead he focused on his stock portfolio, his part-time B-school assignments, and on playing trip-hop and acid trance music through his headphones so loudly that he could have started up his own nightclub in the office. Fortunately, he left the firm not too long ago- of his own accord, I might add, and all I can say is that his departure was very very long overdue. Dealing with this guy's shenanigans, even as indirectly as I was (he was in a different team, just a few rows over), was severely taxing on morale and on our ability to get things done- whenever we needed to concentrate on doing actual work, this poltroon was constantly yapping about the latest celebrity gossip and news.

In my experience it is a complete myth that the extroverted, hard-charging, get-it-done type is the ideal manager or employee. One of these types is actually in a senior position of responsibility within my firm, and let's just say that I find his leadership style to be at best a distraction and at worst a serious problem, because it gets in the way of the ability of guys like me to do the actual work and analysis that stops the business from imploding under its own weight. It is the quiet guy in the corner, who is nonetheless forceful about standing up for his opinions and ideas and has the cold, hard analysis to support them, that is worth listening to, not the loud and extroverted type in the middle of the room going on about "metrics" and "responsibility" and "teamwork".

Badger's analysis and commentary remind me very much of UncleBob's comment on my post about solitude:
Introverts understand extroverts a lot better than extroverts understand introverts, just the way the smart understand the stupid a lot better than the stupid understand the smart.
Amen, mate. 


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