Modern Etiquette: How introverts can survive the party season

Mon Nov 1, 2010 8:05am EDT
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By Mary Mitchell

SEATTLE (Reuters Life!) - Are you secretly dreading holiday party invitations in your mailbox?

Would you prefer to share celebrations with one person or a few friends rather than a big party? Do you feel drained after social situations, even when you've enjoyed yourself? Do you become grouchy if you're around people or activities too long?

If you answered, "Yes," to these questions, you are probably an introvert like me, and find the holiday entertaining season draining when it's supposed to be joyful.

Until I married an extravert, I never truly appreciated the fact that introverts and extraverts are simply hardwired that way. Parties energize extraverts, but drain the rest of us.

The kicker is that we are very sociable. We appear to be having a swell time - and very often we are - so extraverts assume parties are easy for us, and bring us along for more.

"There is a whole culture developed around introverts having to hide to get what they need," said Dr. Larry Richard, a psychologist who heads the Leadership & Organization Development practice at Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, and an expert on the famed Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test.

"Extraverts don't understand introverts nearly as well as introverts understand extraverts."

Studies indicate that introverts naturally generate elevated levels of electrical stimulation in the neo-cortex, and burn a great deal of glucose, Richard said. That takes energy, which is why we introverts can feel exhausted after a party, when others want to keep going into the wee hours.   Continued...