Healthy Living

What Does it Mean to be an Extrovert or Introvert?

Key Takeaways

  • Extroverts are usually more outgoing, expressive and quick to interact with the surrounding environment, while introverts are much more reserved, laid back and more comfortable alone.
  • Introverts have been victims of a few judgmental people who haven’t really taken their time to know them well.
  • There is nothing wrong with being an introvert or an extrovert so be confident and accept who you are, then people will also accept you the way you are.

Definition of Extrovert

There has been a lot of confusion on what really characterizes an extrovert. It has become a problem for anyone to really tell whether he or she is an extrovert or not. This has got some people confused about who they really are to an extent that they find it hard to make decisions that reflect on their true characters such as what they like and what they hate or what they want.

It is probably okay to say that extroversion and introversion are as old as the history of personality theories themselves. Studies into the human behavior have shown that some individuals are outgoing, expressive and quick to interact with the surrounding environment. While on the other hand, there is another group of people that are much more reserved, laid back and are more comfortable alone. Unlike the former, these people take much longer to adjust to the surroundings. The former find it a lot easier to engage with the surrounding world and sincerely enjoy communicating with other people, while the latter prefer to keep it private and rely on themselves instead of seeking engagement from the external world. Our mind determines how we picture our surrounding including the people, objects and the activities that come with them.

Introvert vs. Extrovert

There are a lot of differences between introverts and extroverts. Below is an outline of the differences so as to help you understand on which side you fall.

Introvert

  • Enjoys being alone; is more comfortable on his/her own
  • Is slow at developing relationships
  • Has a high concentration
  • Is much more comfortable communicating through gestures or writing
  • Is not good with crowds; avoids crowded places
  • Does not like too much attention
  • Focuses on his/her own world
  • Prefers keeping his/her ideas to himself/herself
  • Likes Routine
  • Prefers to know only a few people
  • Thinks before acting
  • Prefers doing things on his or her own
  • Some of them control the amount of love they give

Extrovert

  • Enjoys sharing their ideas and thoughts with others
  • Acts before thinking
  • Enjoys crowded places and are happy when a good number of people are around
  • Enjoy working with groups
  • Gets bored easily
  • Communicates easily with others
  • Has a good number of friends and enjoys a wide range of activities
  • Is outgoing and popular among friends
  • Not good with routine and repetitive tasks
  • Finds it hard to concentrate sometimes and thoughts are not collected

Now, if your characters relate to more of the introverts’ side than those of the extroverts’, then chances are you are an introvert and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with being either an introvert or extrovert and accepting who you are will make life a lot easier and lighter for you.

Common Myths about Introverts

Introverts have been victims of a few judgmental people who haven’t really taken their time to know them well. It is a lot easier to relate with introverts if you’ve already separated the myths about them from facts. Below are some of the common myths about introverts that have been finding their way around the society:

Myth #1: Introverts are naturally not good leaders 

Truth: Even though a number of studies have suggested that around 80 percent of leaders are extroverts, it does not necessarily imply that introverts cannot make good leaders. Both extroverts and introverts can make great leaders on equal measures. It all depends on their individual leadership qualities and how they decide to manage their companies or people. Actually, introverts with leadership qualities have an upper hand in form of better concentration and clear thinking. Good examples of these kinds of leaders are Doug Conant, Campbell Soup’s former CEO and General Charles Krulak, who is a former commandant of the US Marine Corps. They are both introverts, but they turned out to be great leaders in their fields.

Myth #2: Introverts are shy

Truth: This is probably the most common misconception out there about introverts. This maybe because a good number of them tend to be quiet and a bit laid-back in public. Fact is, a good number of introverts have made it in fields where shy people would otherwise not make it. Good examples of these introverts are Johnny Cason, Audrey Hepburn, Will Ferrell and Johnny Depp who have all made a huge impact in the entertainment industry. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people, but rather they tend to choose the people they let into their lives. They may not be able to start a conversation, but you might be surprised at how well they will respond if you talk to them. It’s amazing how a good number of them can keep a good conversation going pretty well.

Myth #3: Introverts don’t get along with all kinds of people

Truth: The fact that introverts may be a little anti-social doesn’t necessarily imply that they dislike everybody. They just take their time to choose the people in their lives and they are not worried about not being friends with everyone around them. They value friendship in such a way that they’d rather have a few close friends who they trust and are loyal to. That explains why they often make such great partners in relationships and they do make great friends too. Introverts feel much safer being around people who are real to themselves and truly value whichever relationship they have between them.

Myth #4: Introverts are rude

Truth: Introverts are many times mistaken to be rude simply because they sometimes take their time to respond or they are choosy on whom they give their attention to. This is not the case at all and if an introvert shows some rudeness, it definitely has nothing to do with introversion.

Most introverts tend to play safe and they always want to say the right things to avoid hurting the people around them. They just prefer to process their thoughts before they talk or act and for this reason, they might sometimes delay their response. Dealing with them needs patience and if anyone dealing with them does not have an understanding of introversion, he or she might mistake them as being rude. However, if you are patient enough with them, chances are they will capture your attention, because what they have to say contains a lot of content. Their slow response is often mistaken as lack of interest while in the real sense; they are just collecting their thoughts before they finally react.

Myth #5: Introverts prefer to be alone every time

Truth: This is true to some extent in the essence that introverts like to be alone, but they like being in the company of other individuals from time to time. They do enjoy reflecting on their thoughts most of the time and test their state of mind through activities such as working on puzzles and tests. They concentrate on one thing at a time and this is why it is normal to find them alone most of the time. Nevertheless, this does not imperatively imply that they are loners and boring to be with. It’s just that they prefer to spend time with people who they share common passions and ideas with and if you happen to be one of them, you will definitely get their attention. Introverts are normal people, even though they love solitude more than other individuals.

Myth #6: Introverts are weird people

Truth: Introverts are not weird. They just don’t fancy “following the crowd”. They believe in being true to oneself and swaying them away from what they want can be a tricky affair. They don’t go for what is trending, but rather what they want. If the latest hit on the radio is not impressive to them, they will listen to whichever music captures their attention no matter what the crowd thinks. They feel much better making decisions on their own without having to be influenced by what other people think.

Myth #7: Introverts hate public places

Truth: Studies have shown that a good number of introverts wouldn’t mind spending time in public places such as parks, bookstores or any other public place as long as it suits their interests. Maybe it is true that they don’t fancy spending a lot of their time in public, but this is simply because they feel that there are more constructive things they’d rather do than have conversations that don’t go hand in hand with their interests. Introverts are like programmed machines that need to shut down for a while to recharge after processing too much. Being alone for a while is just a way of recharging and they will be good to go when they are ready. If introverts completely hated public places, then about 45 percent of students in regular schools would have to be homeschooled.

Myth #8: Introverts cannot be in relationships

Truth: Studies have shown that introverts can make the best partners, if they are in a relationship that they are comfortable in. Just like any other person, introverts can date other people they like and have great relationships. They can make great husbands and parents to their children.

Myth #9: Introverts cannot relax and have fun

Truth: The best part of being an introvert is that you don’t need a whole bunch of people around you to have fun. Introverts can be happy even on their own and if you are lucky enough, you can share the happiness with them. It is not exactly their nature to go on a quest for fun, but they know how to make themselves happy with whatever they enjoy doing.

Myth #10: Introversion is like a disease that can be corrected

Truth: There is nothing wrong with being an introvert and it does not make any sense to try and fix something that is not broken. Being an introvert is part of one’s personality and cannot be fixed. The world needs introverts the same way it needs extroverts. Introverts have made it in all fields and some have even achieved a lot more than other people in their respective areas. Introverts are already great just by being who they are and they all deserve respect for being themselves.

Communication between Introverts and Extroverts

Understanding how to communicate with everybody no matter the difference in our personalities can make life a lot easier and improve our quality of life.

For Introverts communicating with Extroverts

The main challenge that introverts face when dealing with extroverts in most cases is the difference in the amount of talking between the two. Extroverts tend to talk faster using large volumes of words and body language compared to introverts. This is the root of the communication problems between the two parties in most cases.

Below are a few tips that might come in handy for introverts when talking to extroverts:

  • Let them know your needs- If you need the other person to slow down a bit, let him/her know. If an answer is required, let the other person know that you need some time to think about it.
  • Be ready for interruptions- It is normal to encounter interruptions once in a while when talking to extroverts. Interruptions are signs that extroverts are really enjoying the engagement and sometimes the urge to talk is just overwhelming. You can either choose to take the interruptions positively and see them as expressions or you can find a polite way to let them know that you don’t enjoy the interruptions.
  • Feel free to shift gears- Conversations can get really heated up sometimes and you feel the urge to talk more. You should feel free to talk more or faster even if it might feel awkward or out of character.

For Extroverts communicating with Introverts

In most cases, the main communication challenge that extroverts face when engaging with introverts is all the silence in between the conversations. Introverts may be even enjoying the silence, but extroverts do find it awkward and discouraging most of the times. Extroverts may talk too fast or interrupt introverts who may find it rude and even deepen their silence.

If you are an extrovert and you need to avoid these awkward moments, here are a few tips:

  • Slow down- You are going to have to slow down a bit when engaging with introverts. This gives them the time allowance they need to think things over before they give a response. For example, if you ask a question, you should be patient enough to allow them to take their time before they answer.
  • Watch for sign language- Sometimes you may be going too fast, but the other person doesn’t want to interrupt so the only way to communicate would be through gestures or body postures that show that he/she is losing interest in whatever you are saying. So it is advisable to always be on the lookout for physical signs that you need to slow down.
  • Give the introvert room to talk- Try and give the introvert the floor and allow them to pass their point across without you interrupting. You can then ask follow-up questions after he or she is done. You can even invite him or her to say more before you respond. This sends a message that you are honestly interested in what the other person is saying and it’s a bit encouraging as far as introverts are concerned.

Choose How You Are Perceived - Whether Introvert or Extrovert

It does not really matter whether you are introvert or extrovert since we are all equal, what is important is that you accept who you are and be comfortable with yourself. The problem with most of us is we are not okay with who we are. It has become hard for some of us to accept that we are uniquely and wonderfully made. Introverts want to be like extroverts and vice versa so as to try and fit in somewhere so as to satisfy or make other people happy. Thinking this way is the root of all the bad impressions created by both introverts and extroverts.

How people around you will view you solely depends on how you handle yourself. Accepting who you are creates an impression that you are perfect the way you are and people will have no choice other than to accept you the way you are. Even those who judge you for who you are will still have to respect you, if you show them that you are confident with yourself no matter what they think.