What do Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Audrey Hepburn, John Lennon, Mark Zuckerberg, Steven Spielberg, J.K Rowling, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and Eleanor Roosevelt all have in common? They’re all introverts.
Introversion is one of the most commonly misunderstood personality traits. Luckily, thanks to a wave of “awareness” articles, introverts are finally getting the understanding that they deserve. Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, also brought a great deal of attention and much-needed positive awareness to the introverted personality type.
“At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor 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.” -Susan Cain
This recent revelation about the value of an introverted personality is significant because historically extroversion has always been favored as the more desirable personality type. However, despite the social favoritism of extroversion, the quiet, understated introvert has proven to be the personality type of many great innovators and leaders of our time.
Life as an introvert is both rewarding and challenging. Introverts are typically more introspective, incredibly innovative, highly artistic, get better grades, are compassionate, are excellent listeners, and make great genuine friends, leaders, and humanitarians. Conversely, introverts are also prone to a great deal of misunderstanding -often labeled “anti-social,” “shy,” or “aloof.” These negative connotations can be frustrating for any introvert to dispel. It’s estimated that approximately one third of the population is introverted. That’s a lot of people running around feeling misunderstood! Here are 8 things we wish others understood about us.
We’re Not Necessarily Shy
“Mistaking introversion for shyness is a common error. Introverts prefer solitary to social activities, but do not fear social encounters like shy people do.” -Wikipedia
One of the biggest misconceptions I often hear about introverts is that we’re shy. While some introverts are shy, many are not. Introversion isn’t about being soft spoken or anti-social, it’s about the difference between how we interact with others versus extroverts. When we’re out, we can be talkative and social, but when we’re ready for our “space” we need to retreat to recharge. Conversely, extroverts aren’t always loud, talkative types. The difference between extroversion and introversion is the way we process the stimuli of social interactions -not how much we do or don’t talk. Extroversion vs. introversion is simply this: Extroversion=gains energy from social interactions. Introversion=drains energy from social interactions. Contrary to popular belief you can be an extrovert and be a wall flower and you can be an introvert and be talkative -it all depends on if you’re gaining or expending energy during the process of socializing.
Our Need For Solitude Has Nothing to Do with You
Our need to retreat and recharge has nothing to do with you. While we enjoy socializing, it does drain our energy. Unlike extroverts who gain energy from socializing, introverts expend energy in social situations. After a few hours we’re ready for some solitude or a book. It is nothing personal, it’s just the way we recharge our batteries. After some quiet time we’re usually ready to go out and socialize again.
We Do Better In Smaller, Quiet Settings
Introverts socialize best in smaller, more quiet settings. Because we’re not fans of “small talk,” we usually do better when we can really chat with someone and get to know them. Jumping from person to person and having surface-level conversations in a loud bar setting is admittedly not our forte. We’ll do it when we have to, but we greatly prefer more personal interactions.
We’re Pretty Sensitive to Misjudgments
Any introvert knows that being an introvert is both a blessing and a curse. While deep introspection and creativity are our strong suits being misjudged as “snobby” or “aloof” is one of our greatest annoyances and something we have to constantly fight against. Many introverts are quite warm and engaging. The problem is that many people make snap judgments and never take the time to truly get to know us. Many of us have been bullied at some point in our lives, so we can get a bit sensitive and withdraw even more when we feel we’re being misjudged once again.
Invading Our Privacy Will Annoy Us
Introverts highly value their privacy and space. If you want to alienate us, prod us and invade our space. Introverts respect people who respect their space. We will do the same for you. Our well-being depends on our freedom to “check out” when we need to and not have to give a lengthy explanation. Give us room to be ourselves and get to know you. When we say we want to stay in, we really mean it. Otherwise we will feel pressured and we will probably disappear all together. (i.e a barrage of constant text messages and phone calls is not the key to our hearts!) You see, we spend much of our lives feeling misunderstood, so if you show us you “get” us and our need for solitude and quiet time, you will become an invaluable person in our lives.
We Do Best in Stimulating Conversations
If you really want to engage an introvert, ask them an interesting or even an odd question. Discuss an important issue, an interesting book, or a funny viral video. We connect better over interesting topics, not about what neighborhood we live in or what we do for a living. Again, we really zone out during small talk or gossip. We don’t do this on purpose; our brains just check out on their own, but an interesting topic can keep us engaged for hours.
We’re Not Submissive
Although introverts often come off as quiet and reserved, do not mistake our calmness for weakness. Most introverts are strong-willed individualists. We often march to the beat of our own drum and with that comes a great deal of inner strength. While we will often brush off minor offenses (we know how to pick our battles) if you threaten our values or loved ones, you’ll be in for a rude awakening when you stir our inner sleeping lion. That’s all.
We Love Our Friends & Family More Than Anything
Despite our occasional zone-outs and tendency to go AWOL (we really don’t realize it when we haven’t spoken to you in a couple weeks, seriously!), we love our friends and family more than anything in our lives. Perhaps we’re not always the best at expressing it through constant communication, but we’re always there and thinking of our loved ones. We make genuine loyal friends and confidants. Best of all, you can rest assured knowing we’ll never blab your secrets to the entire world!
Want to know more about your own personality? Find out your MBTI type: Improve Your Life with The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator