’I’m gonna vomit’ — how extroverts and introverts can solve a problem together
Let’s take a real life example. There is an extrovert mother (my wife) and an introvert father (me — by the way I’m ambivert, but I guess my default setting is the previous). It is a wonderful Friday evening, the kids are asleep and the couple is watching a movie. Out of nowhere their 4-year-old son walks out of his room and says:
’I’m gonna vomit’.
What happens next?
I (the introvert father) cannot really handle the sudden context change (from great, relaxing movie to child’s illness) and I’m completely blocked. The best thing I can do it either to ask stupid questions like „Really?” or to put my hand under his mouth just to prevent the disaster a little bit.
Whereas the extrovert mother (my superhero wife) jumps up, grabs the son and takes him to the bathroom, stands him right onto the footstool, opens the tap, holds his head and starts cooling his forehead with water. Not only that, while carrying the child she manages to find the fastest route to the bathroom while avoiding any carpets (just in case). The perfect response!
Meanwhile I (the introvert) start to realize what the hell just happened and hear her screaming: „Bring some drink for him”. My mind slowly start to recall where we keep the glasses and the water / tea / whatever, but I’m still somewhere in the mood of the movie.
Next step is that I become completely aware of the situation and join them in the battle.
And now comes the part for an introvert to shine.
While my wife handles the first steps perfectly she still has too much adrenaline and would do something very harmful very fast, but after things get a little better (either by things coming out or identifying a false alarm) it’s time to think.
What could cause it (eating too much, eating something wrong, swallowing too much snot)? What would be the best for him (eat a toast, get back to sleep, wait a little)? What worked or did not work last time (I found that in stressful situations extroverts have a hard time recalling successful previous solutions)? What are the things we cannot do (e.g. medicine which is not yet suitable for a child)? Should we take him to the doctor?
To sum it up: the extrovert will solve the problem as fast as possible and the introvert will identify its root cause and find the best long-term solution.
Talking about fast reaction: guess who will bring a bowl to be prepared for the next “event”? The extrovert! So that she can react even faster next time…
The above situation might seem funny, it has already happened to us many times and makes both of us angry. Why? Because an extrovert cannot cope with the initial block of the introvert and later on the introvert cannot cope with the ongoing constant rush of and extrovert (even after the problem is over).
So what can we learn from this?
1. Know if you are extrovert or an introvert, admit it and deal with it!
2. Know if your partner is an extrovert or an introvert and deal with it! — don’t try to change him/her, it will not work!
3. Work as a team. Always let the extrovert make the first move! Introverts just get out the way and let them work. The few seconds before a disaster is just no the right time for deep analysis and you cannot handle fast context changes. Slowly the introvert can take over control, because they are better at judging a situation and making the correct long-term decisions even under stress.
4. Use this example anywhere: at your work, in teams, etc. This problem solving strategy (the team play and role separation) can come very handy in agile development teams for example.
5. A team is better when it consists of both types (even though there can be many conflicts).
I’m neither a doctor nor a psychologist, so anything written here is just based on personal experience and created for fun :)