Saw this great article on digg today. I am an introvert and people tend to think I'm arrogant and shy when I really just want my own space and hate small talk!
First off, there are those who are reading this who might not know which camp they fall into, the extrovert or the introvert. Chances are, the majority of those reading this will know, but for those who don’t, let’s define those two terms here very broadly.
Extroverts tend to be those who are more energized when around other people. They are the ones who will reach for the cell phone when alone for more than a minute, the ones who love to go out every weekend, the ones who love to chit chat, mingle, and socialize.
Introverts tend to be those who are more energized when alone with themselves. They are the ones who have to be dragged to parties, who are the first ones ready to leave after a short period of time, and who generally enjoy solitary activities such as reading, writing, and daydreaming.
The qualities and characteristics of introverts are often held in a negative light in today’s world, so it’s only natural that the majority of people seem to think that there’s something wrong with them
The reason why the majority of people think that there’s something wrong with introverts is because the majority of people aren’t very knowledgeable when it comes to introverts, in terms of why they are the way they are and why they do the things they do.
Many people tend to hold several potentially damaging misconceptions about introverts, but through no fault of their own.
I’ve been on both sides of the extrovert/introvert fence, and I can understand why extroverts tend to view introverts in a negative light, socially speaking, so I thought it would be best to write an article dedicated to helping extroverts understand their often very misunderstood introvert counterparts.
My hope is this article will help solve that problem by shedding some light as to why introverts are the way they are and do the things they do, so here are 5 things every extrovert should know about introverts.
1. If a person is introverted, it does NOT mean they are shy or anti-social.
This is probably THE biggest misconception that extroverts tend to have when it comes to introverts.
And you can’t really blame them for having that kind of misconception.
Extroverts tend to have to drag introverts to parties, to convince them to go and sell them on attending social engagements. When introverts politely decline, extroverts automatically assume that something might be wrong so they always ask if everything’s all right and of course, everything is all right. It’s just a common misunderstanding. When extroverts see a pattern like this developing, they automatically assume that introverts are shy or anti-social as that can be the only logical explanation to them.
What’s more, when extroverts try to engage introverts in small talk, it seems like they hit a brick wall.
Add to that, most extroverts see that introverts tend to be fond of engaging in solitary activities such as reading, writing, and daydreaming.
Well, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it must be a duck right?
Introverts have more brain activity in their frontal lobes and when these areas are activated through solitary activity, introverts become energized through processes such as problem solving, introspection, and complex thinking.
Extroverts on the other hand tend to have more activity in the back of their brain, areas that deal with processing sensory information from the external world, so they tend to search for external stimuli in the form of interacting with other people and the outside world to energize them.
There’s a deeper science to this that involves differences in the levels of brain chemicals such as acetylcholine and dopamine in extroverts and introverts, but I won’t get into that.
The bottom line is that introverts are just wired differently than extroverts. There’s nothing "wrong" with them. They just become energized through different processes depending on where the majority of their brain activity takes place.
Granted there are introverts who may be shy and anti-social, but that’s just a coincidence that perpetuates the myth that ALL introverts are like that.
You’ll find that all introverts are fine just the way they are until people begin to subtly suggest otherwise.
2. Introverts tend to dislike small talk.
If you really want to engage an introvert in conversation, skip the small talk. Introverts tend to love deep conversations on subjects that interest them. They love to debate, go past the superficial and poke around the depths in people’s minds to see what’s really going on in there. Most, if not all introverts tend to regard small talk as a waste of time, unless it’s with someone new they just met.
This characteristic probably contributes to another misconception that extroverts have of introverts - the misconception that all introverts are arrogant.
Because extroverts notice that introverts don’t talk that much with other people. Therefore, extroverts assume that introverts think they’re too good to talk to others, hence arrogant and that’s hardly the case.
It’s just a matter of preference.
Extroverts thrive on small talk.
Introverts abhor it.
There’s nothing wrong with either choice, it’s just a matter of preference.
This brings us to the third point.
3. Introverts do like to socialize - only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts.
Yes, it’s true. Contrary to the majority of public opinion, introverts do like to socialize, but again, only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts.
Introverts love anything that involves deep conversation. They get energized by discussing subjects that are important to them and they love see what and how other people think, to connect the dots, to dig deep, to find root causes, to use logical thinking via debate in conversation, etc.
And what’s more, introverts can do a lot of things extroverts are naturally good at - give great speeches, schmooze with everyone, be the life of the party, charm the socks off of total strangers - but only for a short period of time. After that, they need time for themselves which brings us to the fourth point.
4. Introverts need time alone to recharge.
Extroverts tend to think introverts have something against them as they constantly seem to refuse generous invites to social engagements. Introverts do appreciate the offers, but it’s just that they know it will take a lot of energy out of them if they pursue these social functions.
They need time alone like they need food and water. Give them their space. There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re not depressed and they’re not sad. They just need time alone to recharge their batteries.
5. Introverts are socially well adjusted.
Most introverts are well aware of all the social nuances, customs, and mannerisms when it comes to interacting with other people, but they simply don’t socialize as much as extroverts, which makes it easy for extroverts to assume that introverts are not socially well adjusted, as they have not seen much evidence of them interacting with other people.
This just exacerbates previous misconceptions and gives way to labeling introverts as nerds, geeks, loners, etc.
It’s easy to understand why society tends to value extroverts over introverts. Human beings have lived in a tribal society so having to interact frequently with people came to be a regarded as a very good skill when it came to survival.
But because of this high value placed on extroversion, introverts tend to feel trapped and find themselves in a catch 22 situation.
Do introverts stay true to who they are and risk social alienation and isolation or do introverts conform and join the extroverted side, pretending to be somebody they’re not just to fit in?
This is precisely why I wrote this article, because if the extroverts can become more educated about introverts, introverts will be able to feel free to stay true to who they are, and that’s a good thing from society’s point of view.
Trying to "turn" an introverted person into an extroverted person is detrimental because it gives off a subtle suggestion that there is something wrong with them, hampering their self worth and esteem when there is absolutely nothing wrong in the first place.
There’s nothing wrong with introverts.
In fact, introverts are the leading pioneers of advancements in human civilization. Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Charles Darwin are a few introverts that come to mind, just to name a few.
And for those of you not interested in science, but pop culture, you’ll be surprised to see a lot of well known names in Hollywood are introverts as well. Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise to name a few as well.
And for those interested in sports, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods come to mind as athletes who are introverts as well.
Introverts have a lot to bring to the table. They have an amazing ability to discover new thoughts, an uncanny ability to focus, to concentrate, to connect the dots, to observe and note things that most people miss, to listen extremely well and are often found having a rich and vivid imagination as well.
The more extroverts become knowledgeable about introverts, the less tension and misunderstanding there will be among the two.
So if you’re an introvert reading this, send a copy of this article to all your extrovert friends so they can get a better idea of what you’re all about.
It’s time to finally clear the air.
By: Brian Kim - October 2, 2007