What ARE Extroverts GOOD For? An Incomplete List

RecoveringFed is not an extrovert. I am an introvert. I was reminded just how much of an introvert I am in the aftermath of a talk I gave on innovation recently at a Federal Government agency. I think the talk went well. I really enjoyed it. I got asked lots of interesting questions, including–tough one–what I still wanted to do with my life that I had yet to accomplish. (I said write a book and learn to play the marimbas except, in hindsight, I would reverse the order.) I was up talking and answering questions for at least an hour I think.

But as I was driving home later that day I realized how desperate I was to get to my house so that I could, I realize, cocoon into my little den and recover my energies. My car couldn’t get me home fast enough. And that evening all I did was quietly play endless games of Bejeweled. By myself. Ecstatically….in an introverted kind of way.

And this got me to thinking….

What ARE Extroverts Good For ANYWAY!
And I came up with a LIST.

(Before I go any further please note position of tongue in cheek. I have very many extroverted friends whom I love dearly.)

Extroverts are Useful:

1. During snowmageddons and similar natural crises. Their penchant for volunteering information without needing to be asked can be very helpful when you need to know exactly how bad the roads are or where is the best bar to wait out the storm. (At other times, however, this is probably the quality I like least about Extroverts. When I meet one for the first time, and they start relating just about everything that’s ever happened in their lives, I always want to interrupt. “Forgive me but I don’t recall asking you how your drive into work went this morning.”)

2. Organizing Surprise Parties. I’m tempted to say this is a made-to-order opportunity for Extroverts. They are cracker jack at pulling everyone together and bring lots of energy to the festivities. A very good friend who is an Extrovert–of sorts–put together a whopper of a surprise retirement party for me a few years ago. Thanks again!

3. As waiters. This might be controversial, I realize, as many introverts want to eat quietly and do not want to be bothered with excessively friendly dining banter. But I actually like a waiter who–again–volunteers information about the menu and jumps in to prevent me from making a horrible choice. I would also put bartenders in this category.

4. At difficult business dinners. Over my career I had to host many lunches among analytic types who kept trying to look at their shoelaces even while seated for a meal. This put all the pressure on me to keep the conversation going. One day perhaps the only extroverted analyst at the CIA was among the luncheon guests and what a difference he made. He took his seat in mid-sentence and hardly stopped to eat or drink. He even seemed to have mastered some simple ventriloquist skills so he could talk while he was eating or drinking. His conversational flow was effortless and–I have to admit–even at times amusing.

5. Hosting charity telethons/fundraiders. Two Words: Jerry Lewisjerry lewis

6. As cabaret performers–or really any kind of one-person show. This also requires little explanation.

7. As informal social affairs coordinators at large US military commands.


I’ve amended the title to indicate this is an incomplete list. I’ve already had one excellent addition posted in the comments. Yes, indeed, Extroverts are very good at dealing with customer service problems.


8 responses to “What ARE Extroverts GOOD For? An Incomplete List

  1. Nice post! As a slight extrovert married to an uber-extrovert, I’ll add that they are also great at mixing it up with customer service reps when needed. They relish the challenge, in fact!

  2. umm, seriously, does that mean my daughter is going to hate the surprise party for the day after tomorrow? should i tell her it’s happening? serious question. she will be 18.

    • I can only say that as an introvert I liked my surprise party very much. Just because introverts don’t crave constantly to be with people, doesn’t mean they don’t want to be loved. Of course they do. Go ahead and surprise her. But if you pull it off, be prepared because she will be slightly miffed for a while. Introverts think they are very intuitive and usually can sniff out things like this.

      But of course I didn’t!!

  3. This is hilarious, Carmen. As an introvert, I find that extroverts are also useful as: heads of school PTAs, executive assistants to introverts, wedding organizers (though why people need such a person puzzles me), tour guides, lobbyists (another type we might not need), elementary school teachers, and fundraisers. (I’m in awe of great development directors at non-profits; all that networking, evangelizing, meetings, phone calls.)

  4. Good suggestions. Do you have any tips on telling the difference between true extroverts and introverts who may overcompensate in public but rapidly retreat to their office or home at every opportunity? BTW, extroverts are also very useful at gathiering personal information during door to door efforts for elections if you pair them with an introvert who will cut the conversation short so the team can complete the route.

    • Peter:

      I am one of those introverts who have learned extroverted behavior. The only advice I can offer is that most real extroverts I know just hit that play button and pretty much you have to pull the plug from the wall to get them to stop talking. I consider this undiluted extroverted behavior. I don’t think there’s any way that introverts, no matter how adept they are at extroversion, can imitate that type of behavior.

      Love you comment about door-to-door poll workers.

  5. Great list, Carmen! I’ll offer up one more thing extroverts are good at: getting their introverted spouses to socialize. At least, that’s one of the many qualities I love about my very extroverted wife! 🙂

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