I started thinking about this topic because of a friend’s blog post earlier this week about her new mobile phone. She mentioned that she much prefers email and text to talking on the phone, and then a discussion proceeded in the comments about whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. And in voicing my own opinions, I formulated a fascinating hypothesis that I would love to test here if you guys will let me know your thoughts. I think that extroverts – meaning people who naturally gain their energy and enthusiasm from being around other people – actually like talking on the phone. And I think that introverts – people who get their energy from being alone and are drained when they spend a lot of time with others – dislike talking on the phone.
Let’s look at my own personal life examples. I am a list-maker and a planner, and I am very introverted. I’m not necessarily shy; I have friends and I enjoy spending time with them, but I really prefer to have my social time scheduled. I feel exhausted after a night out with other people, and I need the next day to re-charge. And because I’m a planner, I don’t like being interrupted or very spontaneous (unless I’d planned to be spontaneous for something – planned spontaneity ho!). I’d adjust if a friend showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep for a weekend and probably end up having a great time, but I’d be annoyed and uncomfortable right at first rather than delighted. I similarly feel a little annoyed if I get a phone call from anyone when I’m not expecting it, because it interrupts my life plans for that moment. If I take the call and chat with a friend a bit, I’m usually glad I talked to them because I love my pals, but it does often annoy me just at the first. I have a planned, scheduled weekly call with my mom, and that doesn’t bother me in the least – because I like talking to my mom and it’s part of the schedule. Texts and emails don’t have the same effect on me because I can answer them right that second or later, whenever suits. And I don’t think any of this is either good or bad – it’s just who I am and what my gut instincts are.
On the other hand, my very best girlfriend in the whole wide world is a classic extrovert. She loves to talk to her friends and family, to visit them in person, and she is not particularly a fan of being alone. She and I were roommates for years, and we know that we are different in this regard. Living with her was really good for me, I think, because she pulled me out of my hermit ways a bit and forced me to interact with other people – and I always enjoyed myself when I did. I am going to admit here publicly that sometimes when she calls and I’m in the middle of something, it annoys me. And I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes my annoyance comes through in my voice – and I hate that about myself, because I don’t have any desire to hurt her feelings or make her feel bad, and I know I do sometimes. If I take just a few minutes to talk to her, I am always glad that I did. But that initial gut instinct is aggravation – not at her in particular, but just at the fact that the phone is ringing and I’m doing something else. She, on the other hand, almost always answers the phone with delight, thrilled that she’s getting the chance to talk to someone she likes and wishes she could see more often. And if she has a quick question or bit of news to share or is even just bored or thinking of you, she’d rather call or visit than anything else (not that she doesn’t text or email; she definitely does that too!). Again, not good or bad – it’s just the way she is. It kind of fascinates me, actually, because I’m so not like that.
The conversation in the comments on my friend’s blog bore out my hypothesis about introverts and extroverts, but clearly I need more data. What do you think? Am I right? Or are you an introvert who loves the phone or an extrovert who hates it?