Is it possible to be positively introverted? Let’s cut to the chase and say, “of course”. For some reason the label of introvert carries negative connotations, but some of our greatest talent falls into the introverted category.
A quick internet search proves the point:
- Albert Einstein
- Rosa Parks
- Bill Gates
- Steven Spielberg
- Isaac Newton
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Lady Gaga (yes, really)
- Mark Zuckerberg
I could bring the article to a halt now by saying, “enough said”, but there’s remains a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about introversion, even amongst introverts. So, let’s unpack some of the more ‘popular’ misconceptions and while we’re about, share a few tips.
Introversion is just a way of saying ‘shy’
Contrary to popular belief, introversion is not the same as being shy. The traits of the two attributes may have some similarities which is probably why people often interchange the two. However, people who are considered introverted may actually believe they are shy.
Shy people will try to avoid social situations entirely. With introverted people, they don’t mind social situations, although in truth some are easier than others to deal with. They simply enjoy their alone time more, and they draw energy from this.
Introverts often don’t like confrontational situations, but this doesn’t mean they don’t know how to handle them.
Shyness often results from insecurity and fear. In this way, shyness tends to be a learned response while being introverted is something that is at the core of a person’s being. To complicate the matter slightly, an introverted person can also be shy, but that’s because they learned to be that way. If they decide to overcome their shyness, they will remain introverts.
There is a negative stereotype associated with introverted people, which is largely undeserving. Introverts are not antisocial. You can think of them as more selectively social. They tend to excel in smaller groups, as long as the people in those groups are not loud and boisterous.
Many introverts are good listeners. That can be a great reason why people want to talk to them. Shy people are not great listeners since they don’t want to be in the presence of others. They will look for ways to remove themselves from these situations.
Introverts have close friends, all things being equal. While the number of friends tends to be fewer than outgoing people, introverts will choose their friendships wisely. The reason could be they avoid people who they feel they don’t trust. Shy people, by contrast, will avoid everyone.
If you feel you are an introverted person, you should not go out of your way to try and change yourself, if that is even possible. Of course, if you feel you are more shy than introverted, then you may want to go through some changes to overcome that shyness. That is something you can change, and therefore it’s worth making an effort for that to happen. Before taking any action, determine which of the two you are, if either.
Introverts are misunderstood
People like action. They want to see action-packed adventures in the movies or read about them in books. When they go to work, they want to see the go-getters in action, or they strive to be the go-getter. It seems there is no place for introverts in this fast-paced world.
But, introverts have their place, and their roles are rising to the surface. For too long people have assumed introverts as characters that don’t interact with others, or are not friendly. People may label them as being quiet and shy. In many cases, introverts are none of these.
Sometimes, an introverted person keeps quiet because they don’t want to say something controversial. They tend to think about what others are saying and consider their response before replying. However, conversations tend to move quickly, and often introverts get left behind in a discussion and so don’t end up saying what they are thinking.
Societies are discovering that introverts are just as valid as extroverts. In fact, they play off each other in the social dynamic. It is much like a Yin/Yang type of relationship. In the case of introverts and extroverts, one group can exist without the other. However, the dynamic is not optimal.
There is no doubt that introverts are more prevalent than once thought. Simply search online for the word “introvert” and see what comes up. That should show you that this type of personality is more common than you may have thought.
It’s fair to say that introverts have challenges with large social gatherings. They are certainly capable of handling large crowds, it’s just that it tends to drain their energy more than extroverts. That is because extroverts thrive in this setting. It helps them gather energy rather than drain them. Put extroverts in a room by themselves for an extended period, and their energy will drain. By contrast, an introvert recharges in this situation.
Most people are not extreme when it comes to being introverted or extroverted. They vary in degrees for each. That means you can take on some introverted qualities as an extrovert and vice versa. However, you tend to revert to your personality unless put into a position that forces you to go in the other direction.
People are starting to recognize that introverted personalities are a viable way to live and even preferable for many. They also are seeing nothing is cut-and-dry. No longer are you purely one personality type and your personality can be fluid over time.
Do we get hung up on stereotypes?
Maybe someone called you an introvert, but they didn’t mean it as a compliment. You, on the other hand, know you are an introvert and are quite proud of it. Why do people care so much anyway?
If you are an introvert, do you get upset by people who are extroverted? You may not be completely introverted, so you shouldn’t concern yourself if someone else is more extroverted than you. Most people aren’t completely one way or another.
Introverts tend to self-reflect and try to think about situations before they act. An extrovert would see this as a weakness and someone who cannot make a decision. However, extroverts tend to react too quickly, without any thought given. Their quick responses can lead to wrong choices. Introverts will look at those rash decisions and wonder why on earth did the person react in that manner.
Life is about balance. Having opposite personalities can be complementary. When we inject our stereotypes into the mix, we lose the balance. To state that a person is an introvert, or an extrovert often labels them as something disagreeable. However, having these opposite personalities keeps the balance intact.
Another problem is people are not fully aware of the definitions of each personality type.
Extroverts are thought to be brash and insulting. Introverts are considered shy and withdrawn. Neither of these assumptions is correct. An extrovert can be shy in the right situation, and an introvert can insult people. Perhaps it’s time to get our definitions straight, or even better, discard them altogether. Let’s not get bogged down in definitions. There won’t be as many stereotypes when that happens.
The good news is that information about both types of personalities are widespread. The internet has given people the ability to find out about them instantly. People who fall into one category or another are likely to peruse forums and groups or create their own. If a person has something to say about their personality, they can describe it to the world by creating a post about it.
This abundance of information gives people the ability to find out about differing personalities. If you classify yourself as an extrovert, you can read more about introverts and why they are the way they are. The same is true for introverts. You may not agree with everything you read about them. But, at least you can view it from a different point of view.
How to be social as an Introvert
The last social gathering you attended, did you notice the people who were the life of the party? How about the people who migrated to a corner of the room and didn’t interact with anyone? It’s likely you took more notice of the person who was the life of the party.
These lively people, i.e., the extroverts, are often given more opportunities than introverts. They put themselves out there more often. They simply know how to take advantage of social situations.
If you relate more to introverted people, then you should try to step up your game concerning social situations. That doesn’t mean you need to become the life of the party. But, you should not be withdrawing to the opposite corner, away from the rest of the crowd.
One great way to help you in social settings is to make sure you have a friend or colleague that you trust, be at your side. This person could be more outgoing than you and can serve as your wingman (or woman). They can act as a buffer if situations become awkward and uncomfortable.
Sometimes, you will have to face social situations without the help of anyone. When this does happen, try to make the best of it by situating yourself with people who are outgoing, but not overly so. That will require you to assess the situation before taking this step. One tip is to try and smile as often as possible. That makes you more approachable. Pay attention to your body language as well.
If you end up having to speak, try to stay away from controversial topics, such as politics or religion. If either of these is the topic of conversation, see if you can find another subgroup that is talking about topics related to the reason for the gathering. For instance, if you are at a conference for work, try to stay on topic about your job.
Telling stories about your experiences are usually the most enjoyable for people to hear. Don’t talk about the technical details or the day-to-day activities unless it relates to those stories.
Try to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. A glass or two of wine or beer can relax you and help you with your social function. If you consume more than a couple of glasses, you risk getting drunk and saying something wrong. Recovering from that situation is difficult.
How Introverts Can Survive a Job Interview
Introverted people can become averse to going on job interviews. That presents a problem when they need to find a job. Going on interviews is unavoidable. For the more extreme introvert, going on interviews is a scary proposition which makes setting up interviews a challenge. That puts them at a disadvantage. Not every introverted person encounters this, but it can happen.
Most interviewers are aware that people get nervous. Experienced interviewers will know how to make people feel more at ease. That can be a great help to people who are very introverted.
Sometimes, the buildup to an interview is more stressful than the interview itself. People tend to think the worst about their chances and start finding reasons why the job may not be right for them. If you see yourself doing this, you need to put that thinking aside. You got the interview for a reason. The company liked what they saw on your resume. You have nothing to worry about as long as the information on your resume is valid and legitimate.
Your confidence increases when you have experience on your side. You need to focus on that. Don’t dwell on reasons why you may not be right for a job. Instead, keep telling yourself that they shortlisted you for an interview out of a list of hundreds of others.
In larger companies, you will possibly be interviewed by a Human Resources person before speaking to the manager who wants to fill the position. This interview can be used to your advantage because you can let the Human Resources person know that you are an introvert. In most cases, they can determine a tactful way to present that information to the manager. You’ll still have to go through with the interview, but you may receive some pointers about how to approach it. It’s not foolproof, but it can be worth pursuing.
Many companies hire through outside recruiting companies. These companies are part of approved vendors. That typically means the outside recruiters have an inside connection with the managers. If you let these recruiters know of your situation, they can provide information as to how to approach the manager when you get to the interview. They too, can approach the manager themselves and give a heads up about you.
These can be good methods to help introverted people during interviews, but they are not without flaws. Certain jobs will require employees to be outgoing. However, it’s probably better for managers to know upfront if you don’t have that ability.
Is working at home good for introverts?
Many people dream of working at home. Getting rid of the commute is one of the best feelings for these people. It’s even better when you can work at home for yourself, i.e., without a boss (except perhaps your spouse?). But, is this type of working arrangement right for everyone?
One advantage of heading into the office every workday is that you can socialize with people. Many work environments have multiple employees. Some interaction will be part of the job while others will be of a more personal nature. A frequent location for this second type is the water cooler, hence the name ‘water cooler meetings.’
When you work from home, you don’t get the luxury of having face-to-face conversations. You may be able to call in from time-to-time. But, you won’t be able to look over at a colleague next to you and ask what his or her plans are for the weekend, etc.
For introverts, working from home can seem like a dream come true. This situation means never having to talk to anyone directly again. Sound the trumpets! Put on the party hats! But, is this a good situation for people who are introverted?
If you are introverted, continuing down the path of no socialization can lead you astray when faced with social situations. Your next job may not allow you to work from home. You can lose your edge when you don’t practice being with others. You will tend to withdraw from these new social interactions and others may think this behavior is odd. They may find ways to avoid you when this occurs.
To reduce the risk of this happening, get exposure to social interactions. It needs more than talking on the phone and chatting using online messaging. While these two platforms are better than no interaction, they are not the same as face time with others.
Arrange to work part of your week at the work location and the other part at home. Of course, this assumes your company allows this. Many companies give the thumbs up to working from home because they don’t have any space in the work environment. That could be a temporary situation or one that the company has no intention of changing.
If you cannot make the split arrangement, find other ways to connect with people. Join groups and go to regularly scheduled meetings. Try to position yourself to lead a committee within the group or take on a leadership role of the group.
Is there a problem with being introverted?
I repeat – there is nothing wrong with you! In fact, your personality complements the extrovert. For too long you’ve faced living within an extroverted world. It is your turn to rise and be noticed.
One of the stigmas associated with being an introvert is you don’t like people and do not want to socialize with them. But, as an introvert, you know this is not true. You love people. You just choose to spend your time with the right people. Your selections may be more critical than extroverts. You may also have fewer friends, but they tend to be good friends who you trust.
It’s important not to categorize bad habits with being an introvert. For instance, you may avoid social situations because you are not good at small talk. However, people can improve their ability to engage in small talk. If that is the only reason you are not socializing with others, take some training and get over it. Besides, the more you practice small talk, the better you will be at it. Don’t let this be the reason for your seclusion.
On the other hand, your solitude is your means of recharging your internal batteries. As long as you are aware of the difference, you should never give up that trait – there are many positives of being introvert. This solitude is what helps you make it through your day or life. You will appreciate it even more as you increase your socialization. It will become your safe-haven.
Once you accept that you are an introvert, you can celebrate it and know that is who you are. If others are not happy with that, you probably won’t hang out with them anyway. You should view this as a positive situation. However, it’s always best to give people a chance before you write them off entirely. You never know what they are going through in their life.
It’s all about becoming who you truly are. Know that it is more acceptable to be an introvert today. That means you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. That is exhausting for many to try and maintain, but it’s not necessary. You can live your life on your terms and not worry about others who believe you should live it on their terms. That includes family and friends.
If you struggle in any way with being an introvert, reach out to others who have learned to celebrate this personality trait. You will find more people jumping on board.