Thompson Rivers University

Engaging introverts, extroverts and everyone in between

April 10, 2017

Amma Marfo recently facilitated workshops Introversion & Extroversion and Career Success.

When explaining the temperaments of introverts and extroverts, higher education professional Amma Marfo often correlates the two types to complex carbohydrates. According to the writer and speaker, there are two types of people in the world: rice and pasta.

“Introverts are the pasta of the world. They need a lot more moving-around-room to serve their purpose adequately. Introverts can’t take the high heat as long as rice can. After a given amount of time, they have to get out of the highly stimulating environment that is the hot water. Pasta is simply not at its best when exposed to too much heat. And neither are introverts,” Amma said.

Amma explained that those opposing personality components are part of a “spectrum rather than a dichotomy.”  Even psychiatrist Carl Jung, who coined these terms, said, “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”

Are you an introvert, an extrovert or somewhere in between? One might identify as an ambivert, which finds the middle ground of both personality types.  Amma refers to those people as Rice-a-Roni, the classic “San Francisco treat,” which blends rice with vermicelli pasta. Like Rice-a-Roni, there is a multitude of ambiversion variations.

In the recent workshops Introversion & Extroversion and Career Success, Amma cautioned that one should not assume it is just about shyness versus expressiveness or loud versus quiet; it is about energy and process. Fast-thinking, attention seeking, extroverts are electrified by social gatherings and rapid-fire communication. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer solitary activities, quiet spaces, one-on-one conversation and tend to share thoughts only when prompted. Amma reflected on her own introversion; she requires extra time to process and articulate her response and prefers to contribute to meetings with follow-up emails or through descriptive journal entries.

Amma asked participants to identify their place on the personality spectrum. Then, based on these self-imposed impressions, groups formed and explored perceptions about the other side of the spectrum.  Based on our perceived notions and the actual reality of our differences, the dialogue explored the strategic elements to mixing introverts and extroverts. If a clash of personalities can stymie progress and the creative process, can collective success be possible? According to Amma, it’s about making room for all energy levels through communication and through the creation of quiet yet vibrant spaces for others to flourish.

Extroverts might have the urge to converse over lulls in conversation, whereas introverts aren’t unnerved by those gaps in between words. Extroverts needn’t fear quiet as a sign of stunted conversation or lack of creative connectivity. Amma stated, “The average extrovert is preparing their thought as they are saying it, whereas an introvert will carefully consider their idea before sharing it. For extroverts, it might be wise to pause and take a breath to allow an introvert to speak, or process their thoughts.”

Creating alternate forms for contribution and conversation can achieve higher levels of success in projects, assignments, meetings and classrooms. By understanding how learning processes vary, Amma said it “gives people permission to do what they do naturally.”

Above all, Amma recommends emphasizing the human connection and digging deeper to appreciate the intentions and purposes of others.  When it comes to navigating functions, projects and presentations, Amma believes there is room for everybody at the table.

Refer to Amma’s website for more information.


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