So a few years ago the Atlantic Monthly ran a brilliant article entitled Caring for Your Introvert. I was thinking about this last Saturday as a good friend and a casual acquaintance and I strolled around the grounds at Tanglewood, where we had gone to hear a performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony (lovely!). The good friend is, like me, on the introverted side of things; the casual acquaintance, I quickly discovered, is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and kept up a running commentary on our surroundings, the musicians (many of whom he knew well), and other incidentals. It was interesting, but I couldn’t at first figure out how to respond. When I tried to contribute in my plodding linear way, I found that the acquaintance had already gamboled off to a different topic; thus these efforts quickly became exhausting. However, I also didn’t want to remain silent and feel like a hostage (and a boring one at that). Ultimately I settled on a non-committal positive vocalization every so often, and that seemed to work.
So, for all you extroverts out there: Is this the optimal response? Or do you want more interaction? (Note that if you want more interaction you’ll have to give other people a chance to speak as well, and maybe even, like, listen to them – so be sure to count these costs before you respond.)