Sophia Dembling

Introverts & Extroverts Vs. Shy & Non-Shy

What if you're a non-shy introvert or a shy extrovert? That might sound crazy to some of you, if you confuse extroverts with people-skills or introverts with not liking people, as stereotypes are hard to break.  But for me, the first time I heard this it made complete sense as it finally explained why my husband talks to strangers more than I do, even though he'd choose a quiet night on the couch over going out with friends.

I'm a Shy Extrovert

No one is surprised to find out I'm an extrovert, but most people seem dubious to hear me

Fortunately, while we might lean slightly in opposite directions on the extrovert/introvert and shy/nonshy scales-- we both like being with each other! :)

describe myself as shy. They seem surprised to find out that I don't talk to the people sitting beside me on the plane and I hate making small talk with sales people ("just leave me alone and I'll let you know if I need help!").  I cringe going to conferences where I don't know anyone and I can easily attend the same exercise class as you for over a year and not say more than hi. I can do those things and even do them quite well... but I don't enjoy them. I actually feel insecure and shy.

My Husband is a Non-Shy Introvert

And while no one who knows my husband is surprised he's non-shy, they never seem to believe him when he identifies as an introvert.  They see him talk to everyone, quick to start conversations and slow to say good-bye, and are in awe of how engaged he is with those lucky enough to connect with him.  His people skills are in the top 1% and he genuinely loves people.  But then he has to go home and recover.  He's worn out.  He has to pace his week to make sure there isn't too much interaction.

I interviewed Sophia Dembling a few years ago about her book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World for a friendship course I was teaching and when she talked about the difference between being shy and being an introvert-- it made so much sense.

Defining the Terms: Extrovert, Introvert, Shy, Non-Shy

Put simply, an extrovert is someone who is energized by being around people; whereas an introvert can feel drained before or after interacting and need to pull away from people in order to get re-energized. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum-- referred to often as ambiverts, meaning that while we might lean one way a bit, we can certainly resonate with aspects of the other.  This classification tends to speak to what energizes and drains us.

But the above has nothing to do with our people skills or anxiety levels when connecting and that's where the non-shy/shy spectrum comes in.  Someone who is non-shy would tend to feel confident in talking with people, unworried about their ability to keep a conversation going, interested in getting to know people around them, and if not eager to meet stranger, at least not overly nervous about it.  On the other extreme, someone who identifies as shy would typically experience anxiety, nervousness, and uncertainty in meeting and connecting with others. Again, like a bell curve, most of us fall somewhere between the two extremes.

What This Says About Our Friendships

I find this all so fascinating.  Certainly someone who is a shy introvert might have one of the biggest challenges in feeling motivated to connect with others for they feel anxious and they aren't all that energized by it (although that's not to say they don't need deep human connection or that it won't improve their health and happiness to get it!).  Or how important it might be to a non-shy introvert to give themselves permission to withdraw even though they're so interested in people.

There is much still being studied in these fields and much we still don't know, but from what I've read so far it appears that while we don't have much control over whether we're extrovert or introvert, we do seem to have the ability to become less shy.  Neuroscience is showing us that our brains can learn how to experience more calmness in our connections, to feel more accepted, and to feel more resonance with others. In some cases it's that we can learn new skills and practice new behaviors that create stronger brain pathways, or in some cases it's finding healing from traumatic relationships or experiences that still trigger our insecurities or fears.

Maybe you've often thought "I'm just not that good at relationships" or "I'm not sure I know how to be a friend." Or maybe you can even feel your frustration at everyone for not being the "right" thing to you, or the shame you feel toward yourself for seemingly not knowing how to engage.  I really want to encourage you to not give up.

The good news is that we can create new trails/bridges in our brains and stop walking the same tired ones that lead us to anxiousness, irritability, fear, or the temptation to take everything personally.

Apparently, we can ALL learn new ways of connecting.  It's called neuroplasticity-- the ability of our brain to rewire itself, which is what many of us need to do in order to create the healthier relationships we need in our lives!

Have you become less shy? What worked? Have you changed a thought pattern or habit when it comes to how you relate to others? How'd you do it? Have you ever intentionally tried to create a new neuro pathway or stopped treading on one that was no longer serving you? What advice do you have for us?


Two Ideas for Growing Your Brain for Healthier & Easier Connections:

  1. Some of you might want to sign-up for the 13-class virtual course that includes the interview with Sophia Dembling: “The Friendships You’ve Always Wanted: Learning a Better Way to Meet-Up, Build-Up, and Break-Up with Your Friends".
  2. But my favorite option is an invitation to join GirlFriendCircles.com where every single month our members receive a monthly skill or challenge to practice, a class taught by a leading expert, a worksheet for personal application, and a vibrant community for advice, encouragement, and support!  Talk about rewiring our brains for healthy connection over the long-run! It's purposely not too much that it feels overwhelming, but is enough to keep bringing your focus back to relational growth.

Our brain development is like exercise-- the more we do it and the longer we do it for-- the stronger we get.  We can't just try something once and expect a new habit to be formed. But we can see growth and change over time!  xoxo

 

 

 

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A Round-Up of Books to Help Your Friendships

A couple of years ago when my agent was pitching my book to publishers, a common response was, "Oh we love Shasta's writing, her platform, and her message, but unfortunately women just don't buy books on friendship." The message we heard repeatedly: women will buy armloads of cookbooks, weight loss books, romance, and parenting... but when it comes to our friendships we think we know what there is to know.  (Either that or we don't care what we don't know?!)  And yet, for all that we want our friendships to just happen automatically, stay easy, and never leave us unsure of how to respond-- chances are high that at any given time, most of us will wish we had a few more meaningful friendships in our lives and wee bit less drama, angst, or uncertainty in the ones we do have.

Furthermore, few things are showing up in our lives as having as much impact on our happiness and health as our friendships are proving to have.  To be clear, all healthy relationships boost our health, but experts acknowledge that our relationships with our kids and spouses are often associated with much of our stress, responsibility, and fear; whereas our friendships can hold the positivity, support, and joy with a little less of the stress and responsibility. So it's that feeling of being connected and engaging in love that boosts our immune system, heals our bodies after surgery, and promotes trust and wellbeing in our lives.  This is no small area of life to leave to chance.

So because most of us want more meaningful relationships AND because few of us have been well-educated on the subject--I decided to offer a little school on friendship this month.  (Did you know it's International Women's Friendship Month! Yes it is!)  And this little Friendship University is opening with an impressive faculty of 13 leading experts (and I plan to keep adding more!) on friendship so that you can have all these psychologists, authors, and experts right at your finger tips!  I'm calling it: The Friendships You've Always Wanted Learning a Better Way to Meet-up, Build-up, and Break-up with Your Friends.  (details at the end to join us! Classes start Monday!)

Here are some of the authors whose books have contributed much to the growing awareness around just how important it is that we courageously keep making new friends, even as adults.

Rachel Bertsche, author of MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend

  Ori Brafman, co-author of Click: The Forces Behind How We Fully Engage with People, Work, and Everything We Do

Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up with Your Friends

 

Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are

Dr. Paul Dobransky, author of The Power of Female Friendship: How Your Circle of Friends Shapes Your Life

Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth: Unlock the Hidden Power of Connections for Wealth, Success, and Happiness in the Digital Age

 

Dr. Geoffrey L. Grief, author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships

Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

Dr. Jan Yager, author of When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You

 

Dr. Jan Yager, author of Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives

Diane Gage Lofgren & Margaret Bhola of Women I Want to Grow Old With: Grow Old Together with Courage, Health, and Attitude! (Volume 1)

Christine Arylo, author of Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend

 

And the best news?  If you don't have 100+ hours to read all of them, over $200 to buy all of them, or an entire empty shelf to hold all of them, then sign up today to access an hour-long interview with each author condensing their best information in our program starting this Monday!  Or, commit to picking one book that you read through this month and put into practice in your life.

But whether it's buy a book or join "The Friendships You've Always Wanted" program where we will deliver interviews to your inbox 4 days a week-- do something this Friendship Month to invest in growing your friendship wisdom.  Because as much as we want it to, friendships don't just happen!  :)

To our growing friendships,

Shasta Nelson, author of Friendships Don't Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends

p.s.  Here's another blog I wrote where I featured fabulous friendship books-- some books make both lists!

Many Introverts are "Coming Out" :)

"I am an introvert.  And there's not a damn thing wrong with me." So says Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World on the second page of her book that boasts chapter titles like "I Like People, Just Not All People All the Time," "Hell Is a Cocktail Party," and "Science Says We're Not Necessarily Shy."

Huge thanks to Sohpia Dembling for the good work she's doing for Introverts everywhere!

I had the privilege of interviewing her recently for an entire hour where I asked her all things related to friendship and introversion.  In my work around female friendship, you can appreciate that how we're wired will play a huge role in how we go about fostering friendships. (She's just one of a dozen amazing authors I interviewed for "The Friendships You've Always Wanted.") It was a delightful and thought-provoking conversation where she shared her own illustrations about friendships in her life, while also giving voice to the growing number of introverts who interact with her via her blog on Psychology Today, called The Introverts Corner.

Introverts Coming Out Everywhere!

Fortunately, there has been such a growing awareness and education process around this subject.  We've so needed it!  Our culture has all too often idealized extroverts in our world, often leaving introverts feeling like there is something wrong with them.  (My favorite chapter title of Dembling's is "Introverts Are Not Failed Extroverts".)

In defining introversion, it was often seen as the opposite of extroversion--which was always described with these culture-valued words like outgoing, sociable, and fun--leaving introversion with words that sounded like they were missing something. We've too often confused introversion with a lack of friendliness or people-skills, which simply isn't so.

While I've long understood extroverts to be those who are energized by being around people, needing more external stimulation; and introverts as those who get re-energized primarily by decreasing the stimulation, often by needing to withdraw from people, it does seem to be a definition still in progress.  But there is a fast-growing list of characteristics and descriptors going around that seem to be resonating with a lot of people.

Whether it's Susan Cain in her TED talk that went viral, conferences like the World Domination Summit starting to put Hang-Out Hammock Lounge's in places where introverts can go re-charge away from the crowds, Facebook links with familiar titles like "23 Signs You're a Secret Introvert," or books like Dembling's that validate the introvert life-- the world is waking up to the fact that we are all wired very differently. Hallelujah! Popular bloggers, speakers, and well-known experts are being way more open and vulnerable about their own introversion.  All of this is helping way more people to self-identify with this name and own the parts of them that haven't always been well received.

And I do mean a lot. Following my Facebook news feed has been a bit like a coming-out party with all kinds of people posting articles and blogs about introverts and then saying things like "I finally feel understood!"

In fact, I've had that feeling too.  While listening to Dembling talk during our interview  about introverts preferring a small group to a large crowd, not enjoying small talk, and choosing email over the phone; I found myself thinking, "check, check, and check."  But trying to tell someone in my life that I might be an introvert is a little like trying to sell an igloo in the desert-- my friends and family just roll their eyes and laugh.

And to be fair, I'm definitely not a true introvert, as much as I'm probably more of what some people are now calling an "ambivert" with characteristics of each, sitting somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between extroversion and introversion.  Though I definitely don't feel "middle-of-road" as much as I feel like a person who has some extreme extrovert tendencies and some extreme introvert tendencies. Or, as I listened to Dembling talk about the extrovert/introvert scale, I was intrigued when she also mentioned the separate shy/non-shy scale which is entirely different.  Her descriptions left me wondering if maybe I was a somewhat shy extrovert since I hate walking into a room full of people, can feel anxious about attending conferences, and don't ever talk to people in lines or on airplanes. (Whereas my husband is probably a non-shy/introvert--someone who can carry a conversation with anyone, on any topic, with amazing people-skills, but will then need to come home to re-charge.)  Or maybe, as they keep studying, they'll find the category where I belong.  :)

Introverts and Friend-Making

But regardless of what labels we identify with, or which descriptions best capture who we are; what is clear is that we all need to know ourselves well and be responsible for our own energy management.  We can breathe deeply knowing that there is nothing "wrong" with us, that we're wired how we're wired, that we all have some tendencies that make certain tasks easier than others, and that we each have gifts that are valuable to others.

During my interview with her, we talked about which aspects of friend-making might come easier to extroverts and which ones might come easier to introverts, how we can make friends based on our own preferences, and what's important for us to know about each other as make friends with people who are wired differently from us.

For what is abundantly clear from all research is that no matter how you're wired or what behaviors might be most natural to you-- the truth is that we all need meaningful relationships.  So we're in it together... each of us stepping in to friend-making with our own temperaments, our own style, and our own energy.

How about you-- was it easy for you to identify yourself as an extrovert or introvert? Have you always known or has it been a process of learning?  I'd love to hear your own journey!

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To listen to the interview, join us this September as we embark on a whole month focused on friendship growing: "The Friendships You've Always Wanted."

 

 

 

The Friendships You've Always Wanted: Selecting the Friendship Faculty

So what a very interesting experience I've had in the last three weeks as I was interviewing the leading relationship experts in the country! No surprise that even I had a lot to learn! The Back Story....The Vision

It started because I had this almost-vision-like picture of hundreds of women all committing to focus on their friendships in the same month.  At first I dismissed it as a silly and fluffy and over-dramatic idea... but it kept feeling important.  It reminded me of being a pastor when we'd gather everyone for prayer-meeting. Even without understanding how prayer really works, there is something powerful about everyone doing it together, in purpose, in solidarity.  There is just a different energy that everyone feels in those moments that is very different from the experience of praying alone.  So anyway, I began to listen to that voice and ended up committing to invite all the women I know to join me for one-month of focused attention, hope, and learning in the area of our friendships.

Then... as I looked at my calendar to see which month I should aim for... International Women's Friendship Month jumped out at me and I just knew it was meant to be.

So then I had the vision and a date.  But because I'm what StrengthsFinder calls a Maximizer-- someone who takes something good and wants to make it excellent (trust me, it can feel like a curse at times!)--I started to brainstorm a gazillion inspirational ideas that convinced me I wanted to offer not just my own voice to this month, but I wanted to collaborate, invite, include, and connect with other experts. I made my dream list....

The Doubts and Insecurities

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes being jealous of some of these experts--for their big book deal, their opportunities, their contacts, their credentials, their research, their niche, their angle, etc.

Here I am with the wealth of books I selected to feature in this month's "The Friendships You've Always Wanted!" friendship course!

And on the flip-side (because insecurity and arrogance are two sides of the same coin), I wondered if I'd like some of their answers and approaches as well as my own.  I cringe to admit it for I definitely don't think I'm more valuable than anyone, but sometimes it's easy to judge others within our own industry and feel like they should have the same approach I have.  I've been known to think critically of others as "too academic sounding," or for "giving advice that seems so trite or appears to be dumbing-down," or for getting caught up in the labeling of unhealthy friendships, which isn't my style.  I guess it's human nature to be trying to figure out where we each rank next to each other.  But it's not the person I want to be.

My fear definitely reared its little head.  But I knew, to my core, that I had much to learn from all of them, and that you would, too.  And I knew that we were all on the same page about helping you foster the best friendships you can... and that you'll learn better from different voices and styles. (Funny how sometimes we fear even what we know is right and good and truthful!)  But my conviction that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that friendships around the world will be better because we collaborated, pushed me through my insecurities and I reached out with the invitation to share them with my audience.

All that to say I am super proud of the "faculty" that I pulled together for this course.  Really, really proud.  When Ori Brafman wrote me back on Twitter and said he'd give me an interview (I quote his research from Click in my own book!)-- I squealed with delight!  When I interviewed Dr. Paul Dobransky--whose definition of friendship will help you know clearly which ones to end--about how we can set better boundaries, I was taking notes myself, amazed at how he was explaining things.  When I read Sophia Dembling's book The Introverts Way-- I was convinced I'd find her and beg her for an interview, which she happily agreed to give.  I could go on-and-on.  I secured a dozen amazing teachers.

I interviewed twelve amazing experts-- sociologists, psychologists, a university professor, many NYT bestselling authors,  an organizational consultant, a women's leadership coach, a marketing executive, and so many more roles.  What they all have in common is a wealth of wisdom that pertain to our friendships.

Here's a sampling of what you can learn from these teachers:

  • Why needing new friends is normal—and how to show up with less guilt, anxiety, and shame.
  • The one thing more important to friendship than chemistry
  • The best ways to make friends in a way that is congruent to your personality
  • Is it true that we are the sum of our five closest friends? If so, in what ways are you being impacted and influenced?
  • The five science-based accelerators that deepen our friendships
  • How many people you need to meet to actually find the number of friends you want
  • The biggest obstacle to friend-making and how to best respond
  • The three most effective tips for making new friends
  • How to determine healthy expectations for different levels of friendship
  • The biggest red-flags to watch out for and what to do when you see them showing up in your friendships!
  • How you can prevent friendships from being ruined by jealousy and competition
  • The boundaries that you need to set to ensure that you participate in mutually reciprocated friendships
  • The three most important practices you can add to your life to attract more love
  • Which of the five types of friends you already have and which ones you want to find
  • An exercise to help you feel less judgmental and jealous of your friends.
  • How to tell the difference between what friendships can be saved and which ones need to end

But I learned so much more than that list can convey.  I learned that even when my advice would be very different from someone I was interviewing... I heard the wisdom in their approach and knew it would be exactly what someone needed to hear.  My ego certainly likes me to think that my approach is healthiest, or best; but what is clear is that while none of us has every answer to your every friendship woe (because every circumstance and person and relationship is just sooo different!), we all also have expertise that can shine in different areas.  How we each speak to this subject and approach it is just so different, and so beautiful.

It has been a gift to work on something as comprehensive as this project. (Where else is there a friendship program featuring so many teachers and subjects?)  I'm really proud of the work.  And I so hope that you are one of the women I saw in my vision who was willing to say "I will focus on my friendships for one month. Count me in."

I hope you can join us.  Hundreds of women coming together to make the world a better place by making sure we're each supported, connected, and loved in ways that matter.

With love,

Shasta

p.s.  To learn more about the program and to sign-up to join us, visit www.FriendshipsWanted.com.