What do you think of when you hear the word Introvert? Many people picture the quiet person in their office who always seems to avoid lunch with the team. Others see the “creative type” who likes to work alone and doesn’t try to make friends. But are these misconceptions the reality for all Introverts?
What does introversion mean?
Put simply, Introverts look inward for energy, and Extraverts look outward. In personality typing, this is the key distinction between introversion and extraversion. Where an Extravert often needs to interact with coworkers to recharge their batteries before getting back to work, an Introvert will likely want a few minutes of alone time. The most important thing to understand — and the point that causes misconceptions — is that Introverts are not incapable of or opposed to extraverted approaches, they are just drained of energy quicker when they employ them.
If you picture a shy, quiet, creative type every time you hear the word introverted, here are 5 surprising things about Introverts that may change your point of view:
1. Not all Introverts are shy.
Introversion is not synonymous with shyness. Yes, there are shy Introverts, but being an Introvert does not automatically make you “nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people.” In fact, many Introverts are actually very outgoing.
For example, Bill Gates is a “quiet and bookish” Introvert, according to Susan Cain’s 2011 Psychology Today blog post, but he is not nervous about talking to others, or uncomfortable interacting with people he does not know. Like many Introverts, he relishes opportunities to meet new people, but may not be comfortable doing so for extended periods of time.
2. Introverts like other people.
Introverts approach friendship differently than Extraverts, which may make them seem antisocial. This is not the case. Rather than expelling energy on continuously making new friends, Introverts focus on building deeper relationships with a core group of friends.
Remember, small talk and banter quickly tires Introverts, so don’t mistake an Introvert sitting quietly at a party as someone who isn’t having fun, or doesn’t want to meet new people. Instead, consider that they may just be happy enjoying the company of their good friends, in a way that does not exhaust them mentally.
3. Introverts can be good leaders.
One of the most detrimental misconceptions about Introverts is that they can’t be good leaders. With the likes of Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet and President Obama (among others) being classified as Introverts, it’s obvious that this stereotype rings false.
In fact, many Introverts — especially ISTJ and ISTP types — actually gravitate towards leadership positions, like systems administrators, office managers, police officers and judges, according to a recently published infographic by my company, Truity.
Introverted qualities like the ability to listen, stay calm in stressful situations and encourage deeper discussion actually make Introverts ideal candidates for leadership roles.
4. Not all Introverts are “artsy.”
Yes, introversion lends itself to the kind of quiet reflection that often inspires creativity, but it doesn’t naturally make them creative, or interested in expressing themselves creatively. Just as there are a number of Introverts that enjoy careers in arts, education and design, many Introverts also choose careers in technical writing, medicine and math.
5. Introverts relax differently than Extraverts.
Extraverts and Introverts have different ideas of what it means to relax and have fun.
For Introverts, a good wind down activity is reading a book in a quiet coffee shop or heading to a friend’s house for a small get together. It’s not necessarily solitude that drives them, but the ability to hear oneself think and develop their thoughts.
Many Extraverts, however, tend to seek out busy environments where they can interact with people and enjoy the company of others. They want to have a good time and make sure everyone around them is having a good time too. This often makes Introverts seem “boring” or “grumpy” to their extraverted counterparts, but what Extraverts consider boring, Introverts consider enjoyable and relaxing.
Do you know any outgoing Introverts? Have you noticed any other misconceptions about Introverts that you can share?