#46 Energy = People * Sociability
This is post #46 of my #365 day series.
We had just ended the call and I immediately put my head down on the desk. I turned to look over to see how our head of marketing felt about it and saw Ashley with a smile on her face and brimming with energy. The difference between me and Ashley is, I’m an introvert and when I don’t feel connected with the person I’m chatting with, it’s especially draining for me. I explain it like having a dance partner you can’t quite get in step with. You’re both tripping over each other and by the end of it you’re just a puddle on the floor.
Compare that today, when I jumped on a call and felt instantly connected with a new person (their love of sci-fi helped). After the call I was full of energy. That doesn’t take away from the fact that I had to spend some energy to meet someone new. That got me thinking, how do I define energy derived from interacting with others? If energy can be derived or lost from social interactions, then perhaps:
Energy = the number of people * some sociability constant (negative for introverts, positive for extroverts)
that seems somewhat accurate, since for introverts we’re spending most of the day trying to fight for neutral. I think that’s hard for extroverts to grasp, since they get so much energy from the external interactions. So much so that people have told me they thought that I wasn’t serious when I said I try to avoid speaking with others. It took a long time for me to understand that just because I don’t prefer chatting with most people, doesn’t mean I’m not friendly. It also doesn’t mean I dislike talking to everyone and that there are a group of folks I don’t mind chatting with for hours (ask my closest friends and they’ll complain to you about how easy it is for me to talk their ears off). Taking that into account, the sociability constant is less of a constant and more of a formula, perhaps one where some lower value of social interaction yields a positive value.
Operating as an introvert is a fine line of understanding what is expected from you externally from a social commitments perspective, what your goals are in terms of social interactions, and recognizing that you have an internal barometer for what amounts of social interactions are overly draining for you. Stray too far away from your comfort area and you can be drained and burnt out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get cranky and irritable. That said, it’s not like we don’t get any energy from chatting with people, it’s just that we enjoy our alone time so we can sort through the thoughts and interactions for the day. Being an introvert just means you have to be more cognizant of how much socializing you have left in the tank and how much alone time you’ll need to refill it.