Introvert (A complete guide)

Introvert

Introvert is often used to describe a shy, reserved person, but introverts are not necessarily shy or anti-social, they just prefer environments that are not over-stimulating and get their energy from quiet time and reflection.

What is an introvert?

The oft-used, but inaccurate, description of an introvert is that they are shy and antisocial. Introversion is a basic personality style which prefers subdued and solitary experiences. The opposite of introversion is extroversion. Being an introvert or extrovert is all about how you process the world around you.

Introverts do not fear or dislike others, and they are neither shy nor plagued by loneliness. Simply, they derive more pleasure from, and are more energized by, their own inner life than by social events. A crowded cocktail party may be torture for an introvert, but they may really enjoy speaking with one person in a calm environment.

Psychologist Carl Jung began using the terms introvert and extrovert (sometimes spelled extravert) in the 1920s. These two personality types sort people into how they get or spend their energy. Introverts, Jung said, turn to their own minds to recharge, while extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs. He believed we all fit into one or the other.

There are many more extroverts than introverts around the world, in fact, data suggest that introverts are outnumbered by extroverts by a factor of six or seven to one. In truth, however, most people are neither purely introverted nor purely extroverted but encompass features of both. Almost all people, for example, need occasional solitude to replenish their energy and almost all people like to socialise sometimes, whatever form that takes.

Introvert (A complete guide)
Being shy is not the same as being an introvert – introverts recharge by being alone and focussing inward.

Is Introversion the Same as Shyness?

Introversion is often mistaken for shyness, but they are definitely two different things. Shy people may very much want to engage with other people, yet are scared of doing so and find the prospect very stressful. For example, they may be highly self-conscious and easily inhibited by others. These are not introvert traits. Many introverts socialize easily, they just strongly prefer to do so in very small groups or, at times, prefer not to interact with others at all.

Introvert (A complete guide)
Introverts socialize easily, they just prefer to do so in smaller groups rather than big, loud parties.

Unfortunately, introverts can be misunderstood by others as being aloof or arrogant. Not only may their social activity be misread as shyness, but they may be seen as suffering from social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, which some people do, but again, this does not define an introvert. These assumptions are incorrect. Introversion is a positively healthy, if often misunderstood, way of negotiating the world.

What are some signs of being an introvert?

·      need quiet to concentrate

·      are reflective

·      take time making decisions

·      feel comfortable being alone

·      don’t like group work

·      feel tired after being in a crowd

·      have few friendships, but are very close with these friends

·      daydream or use their imaginations to work out a problem

·      retreat into their own mind to rest.

What is the difference between an introvert and extrovert?

Scientists don’t know for sure if there’s a cause for introversion or extroversion. What they do know is the brains of the two personality types work a little differently from each other. Research has discovered that introverts have a higher blood flow to their frontal lobe than extroverts do. This part of the brain helps you remember things, solve problems and plan ahead.

Introvert brains also react differently to dopamine, the reward and pleasure-seeking part of your brain, than extrovert brains do. Introverts and extroverts have the same amount of the chemical, but extrovert brains get an excited buzz from their reward centre, they need to be around people to recharge their batteries, while introverts tend to just feel run-down by it.

 Introvert (A complete guide)
An introverted person is usually inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts

How about being an introvert in the workplace?

Although about a third of the population are introverts, most institutions, from schools to workplaces, are geared towards extroverts, while introverts are often undervalued or misunderstood. Extroverts are typically seen as outgoing, confident and happy to join in conversation, whilst introverts are thought of as quiet and inwardly thoughtful.

Job adverts tend to use words like ‘people person, team player, outgoing attitude’ and offer environments like open-plan offices and brainstorming sessions. The perception is that these things are of great value today. But, research shows there is absolutely no correlation between the most talkative person in the room and the best ideas.

In schools, where group activities and ‘show and tell’ are encouraged, some studies suggest that the majority of teachers think the ideal student is an extrovert, and more extroverts are groomed for leadership positions in the workplace.

This can leave introverts, who have an extremely valuable contribution to offer an employer just more quietly and less ‘out there’, lagging behind in both promotions and careers. The ideal employer in this context is one who understands balance and values, appreciates and gives voice to the contributions of both types of people.

Introvert (A complete guide)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about introverts:

1.    What is an introverted person like?

An introverted person is usually inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts and feelings rather than seeking out stimulation from external sources. 

2.    How do I know if I am an introvert?

You might be an introvert if you experience the following:

·      you enjoy spending a lot of time alone

·      your inner monologue is hard to quiet down

·      you do your best thinking when you are alone

·      you often feel more lonely when you are in a big crowd than when alone

·      when you are at a social event, such as networking, you often feel as though you are “faking it”

·      you have no desire to be the center of attention.

3.    What does it mean to be an introvert?

Introverts are people who tend to turn mentally inward. They sometimes avoid large crowds or groups of people and feel more energized by spending time alone. An extrovert is the opposite of an introvert, and this type of person finds energy through interacting with others. 

4.    What are the four types of introverts?

There are four different broad types of an introvert. These are social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. Many introverts are a mix of all four types, rather than just one type. 

5.    Do introverts fall in love?

Of course introverts fall in love, however a battle usually forms within themselves when they do. 

6.    Are introverts smarter?

It is not proven that introverts are smarter than extroverts, however introverts seem to be born with a level of arousal that is already higher than average. An introvert’s brain is already overstimulated, so they do not tend to seek external stimulation.

7.    Are introverts weird?

No, introverts are not weird. It is estimated that at least 40% of the population identifies themselves as introverted. Based on this alone, being an introvert is not something weird or abnormal. 

8. How do I stop being an introvert?

There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, however, there are several ways you can try to decrease your tendencies for introversion. These include the following:

·      get out of your head

·      be brave and push yourself into new situations, like social events or crowded places

·      learn to tell stories

·      practice and plan

·      avoid the ‘Lone Ranger Syndrome’

·      be yourself, get to know other people, and be flexible

·      stop labeling yourself as an introvert – it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy

·      let active listening be a positive thing.

9.    Can introverts be social?

Being an introvert does not equate to being antisocial. Many introverts are not shy; in fact, they may feel confident and at ease around groups of people. They do, however, require more alone time that they spend in social situations. Extroverts, on the other hand, may always want to be around people and seek out social situations, but feel insecure or uncomfortable in these settings. 

10.    How do introverts think?

Introverts feel less excitement from surprises or taking risks. They process sensory details of their surroundings and not just the people. Introverts also recall long-term memories to locate information. 

11.                  Can introverts be leaders?

Introverts usually make great leaders, but they lack confidence in their capabilities. They often assume that they won’t enjoy leadership roles, so are less likely to seek them out. Introverts tend to be relatively quiet and reserved compared to extroverts. 

12.                  Was Einstein an introvert?

The world-renowned physicist who developed the theory of relativity was often thought to be an introvert. Like many introverts, he did his best thinking alone: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” he’s widely quoted as saying

13.                  Do introverts need social interaction?

Introverts thrive on social interaction, just as many people do. They just do it in a different way to people who are more extroverted. For instance, a “social butterfly” extrovert may like to meet 50 people at an event, and get a buzz from talking to as many people as possible, whereas an introvert will gain great pleasure from having an in-depth conversation with two or three people.
If you want to read more about introverts try the following books:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Introverts are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favour working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 20th century and explores its far-reaching effects.

The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World

On behalf of those who have long been misunderstood, rejected, or ignored, fellow introvert Jenn Granneman writes a compassionate vindication—exploring, discovering, and celebrating the secret inner world of introverts that, only until recently, has begun to peek out and emerge into the larger social narrative. 

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

Some people – a sizable minority – prefer to avoid the limelight, tend to listen more than they speak, feel alone in large groups, and require lots of private time to restore their energy. Often they feel different, not right, less than. But as Marti Olsen Laney proves, that is far from the truth.
The Introvert Advantage dispels common myths about introverts – they’re not necessarily shy, aloof, or antisocial – and explains how they are hardwired from birth to focus inward, so outside stimulation such as chitchat, phone calls, parties, or office meetings can easily become “too much”.

References:

What is an introvert personality? – WebMD – September 2019

Do we really give introverts a hard time? – BBC.com – March 2012Introversion – psychologytoday.com – January 2020

Introvert (A complete guide)

Aura Des los Santos

Aura Des los Santos is a Clinical Psychologist with two masters degree in Education. One focused in Higher Educacion and the other in the research of Psychology of Education. Her experience is focused on working depression, anxiety and personal development. She frequently writes articles in the area of psychology, education, travel and general culture.