Home Societal / Political Community The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships V: Coherence

The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships V: Coherence

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Furthermore, there is the matter of depth and breadth that kicks in when we are anxious. Extraverts are likely to seek out many other people when anxious, while the Introvert is likely either to go it alone or seek out a few carefully selected people. An Extravert holds the advantage of finding an abundance of differing sources of support and advice. As Waldinger and Schultz have noted there is a greater chance of beneficial encounters when chaos reigns supreme and multiple encounters can be anticipated. There is that one person for that one special occasion. By contrast, an Introvert holds the advantage of finding that one person with whom they can have a sustained, caring relationship—or they learn how to rely on their own internal sources of support and advice.

These divergent interpersonal responses of Extraverts and Introverts contain implications for how we connect with one another. While an Extravert will tend to rely on a diverse set of “snappy conversations” when they are anxious, an anxious Introvert is likely to prefer “substantive conversations.” (Laney, 2002, p. 161). This does not mean that one should rely on the Introvert when seeking to build and maintain an important relationship under conditions of anxiety—facing real or imagined lions. We can look to Extraverts for an expression of their care and devotion in the actions that they take. While the Introvert might be contemplating the best way in which to serve our needs, the Extravert is like to do something about these needs (especially if we are hurting or in distress). A ride to the doctor’s office may be of greater use to us when we are anxious regarding our health than is an Introvert’s lecture on healthy habits or suggestions regarding the pharmacological options available to us.

I have recently completed a book about intimate enduring relationships. (Bergquist, 2023) called Love Lingers Here, I identify a variety of actions that can be taken to preserve and enhance an intimate relationship. These autotelic-based actions might be small “bids” that we offer our partner on occasion (such as helping to prepare a meal or expressing appreciation for something “loving” that they have done).  It can also be the purchase of something important for our partner or preparing a “covenant” to guide future relationships with our partner. Actions make a difference and Extraverts are “in the business” of taking action.

Bids can also be found in transactional relationships. We offer to help someone out with their encounter with a difficult customer or provide a valuable connection to someone in our business network. For the Introvert, this transactional bid is most likely to be a few words of advice, whereas for the Extravert it can be a “tangible” email or phone call that hooks us up with a potential customer. Bids make a difference and can come in many forms. They help to provide Coherence that enhances autotelic and transactional relationships. I will have much more to say about the vital role played by Coherence as it is found not only in the relationships that we establish with specific people but also in the relationships we establish collectively in communities.

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