It’s true that in this post-modern age, where success is often associated with extroverted qualities, introverted people are often misunderstood. Ever since Carl Jung popularized the terms introversion and extraversion back in the 1910s, the concept has stuck with us for more than a century, and yet there are still many misconceptions about introversion as a personality type.
Here, we will help you find the answers to your question: whether you are actually an introvert, what it actually means for you, and is introversion really a disadvantage.Is being introverted bad?
Let us begin.
Breaking The Myths: Introverts VS Extroverts
First things first, it’s important to understand that introverted people aren’t necessarily shy, quiet, or anti-social, and similarly not all extroverted—or more correctly, extraverted— people are loud and brave all the time.
Instead, the introversion-extraversion dichotomy, according to the Myers&Briggs; Foundation, is actually more about how people charge and re-charge their energy.
How Introverts Get Their Energy
Introverted people tend to recharge their energy by being alone, by tinkering with ideas and reflective memories inside their head—in short, by having time to themselves—.
On the other hand, an introvert will (quickly) lose energy when they are with other people, even if it’s with the company they enjoy being with, to a lesser extent.
This is why introverts prefer to work alone. They can work in a team, but it has to be with people they know well and comfortable with, and they prefer to work intimately in a small team with just two or three people at most.
Other interesting things to know include:
- They mainly learn by delving deeper into their own thoughts and emotions
- Prefer smaller groups and tend to have fewer friends, but tend to be really close with these few friends
- Tend to spend too much time overthinking and contemplating things, so more prone to procrastination.
- Tend to live inside a bubble since they don’t check the outside world often
How Extraverts Get Their Energy
Extraverted—or extroverted—people, tend to get their energy by directing their attention to the outer world, actively involving themselves in activities and events.
On the other hand, their ‘batteries’ will drain when they are alone, and especially when they are asked to focus on certain tasks that demand concentration in solitude.
Similarly, here are some important characteristics to know regarding extraverts:
- They are notorious for being impulsive with the “act first, think later” mentality
- Often seen as outgoing, and tend to have a wide range of friends
- Extraverted people tend to get lost when they’ve started a task, and forgot to stop and evaluate.
- Tend to work better in groups and like to work in a big team
So, being an introvert has nothing to do with being shy, and there are certainly many introverts that are successful in socially-demanding jobs like Abraham Lincoln or Audrey Hepburn.
It’s just more ‘tiring‘ for introverted people to interact with others, and so it’s very important to differentiate between introversion and social anxiety.
So, to reiterate, is being introverted bad? Not at all. Introversion is just a personality trait—not a disadvantageous quality—, and in fact, there are some characteristics of introversion that can be beneficial for success in this digital age.
Below, we will also learn how to maximize these characteristics.
Are You Really an Introvert?
Consider the fact that introversion-extraversion is a spectrum, and most people tend to be somewhere in the middle.
Some people can be mainly an introvert with slight extraverted qualities and vice versa. Some others might fall exactly in the middle of the spectrum—the ambiverts—.
Above, we have also mentioned that introversion is often confused with social anxiety or acute shyness, which are indeed bad and disadvantageous.
If you are indeed an introverted person, the key to success is to maximize your introverted characteristics and manage your energy, not to transform yourself into something else entirely.
With that being said, it’s important to first determine whether you are really an introverted person, and here are some of the common signs:
1. You Enjoy Being Alone
Enjoy is the keyword here. There is a huge difference between being anxious around others (or even really hate being around others) than enjoying solitude.
If you prefer to retreat to a private room after a long day of work—or even a party—, it’s a good sign that you are indeed an introvert.
2. You Feel Exhausted After Being Around A Lot of People
Again, there’s a huge difference between being shy and hating people to feeling exhausted after spending time with a lot of people.
Many—if not most—introverts actually enjoy spending time around others, but as we have discussed above, introverts have to spend energy in these social situations.
3. Self Awareness
Introverted people tend to focus on their inner world, examining their own thoughts and exploring memories. As a result, they tend to be very self-aware.
If you feel that you’ve developed a good knowledge of your motivations, thoughts, and emotions, you might be an introverted person—or at least more of an introvert in the spectrum—.
Another key factor here is that introverts tend to enjoy contemplating and gaining deep insights into themselves.
4.Good Listener and Observer
Introverts are naturally adept and listening and tend to prefer learning via observation, while extroverts tend to take the “learning by doing” mentality and generally prefer trial and error.
Even for activities where practices are necessary, introverts tend to prefer practice in private rather than asking for feedback from others.
If you usually learn more by watching rather than doing and are usually the listener in a conversation, there is a good chance you are an introvert person.
5. You Lose Focus In Hectic Environment
According to recent studies, introverts tend to be more easily distracted than extraverted people, and it’s also a common reason why introverts tend to prefer a quieter and more private setting.
When an introverted person needs to spend time in a hectic environment (i.e., a busy party), they tend to lose focus and might feel confused. Pair this with the fact that introverts drain their inner battery quickly in social interactions.
If you tend to feel overwhelmed in busy environments with a lot of activities, it’s a good sign that you are more of an introvert.
Knowing Yourself Better: The Advantages and Benefits of Being An Introvert
Do you fit any of the above signs? Or all of them. Congratulations, you are indeed an introvert.
So, is being an introvert really all that bad? Not at all. You just have different qualities than the more common extroverts and in many cases, they can be very valuable.
Here are some of the benefits of being an introverted person:
- Thinking Before You Speak
This is actually a very useful trait in this day and age where seemingly everybody has a voice and everywhere is noisy—especially thanks to the social media—.
Because introverts only speak after they deeply think about the subject, there is a higher chance of the speech of making its impact, and at the same time will help the introvert avoid future problems—also common nowadays—.
This skill of carefully formulating our thoughts and choosing the words widely is very beneficial today both in the online world and for in-person communications.
2. Good Listener and Observer
Above, we have briefly discussed this as one of the key traits of an introvert, and also one of the key advantages.
A good listener that is also astute at observing the situation is often very valuable today. An introverted person tends to process every information internally, so they have a better grasp of the situation.
Also, introverts are very adept at noticing introversion-related traits in others: when the other person is thinking and observing. This, allows the introvert to give them the required space, making the other people more comfortable.
An introvert might not have a lot of friends, but when they do, they are usually very good friends, loving romantic partners, and effective, compassionate leaders.
The introvert tends to be a loyal friend—because they do value who they want to be with—, and will give undivided attention when it’s necessary because they know the importance.
In short, quality over quantity.
4.Effective, Intimate Networking
A very common misconception is that introverted people can’t network.
However, introverts can be very effective in networking provided they can use their natural strengths and are not forced to use the more common, extrovert’s pace.
Similar to the above, networking isn’t always necessarily about quantity, but the quality is often more important. An introvert might only “connect” with just a few people during a party, but all of them will be meaningful ones that can open up new opportunities.
Maximize Success With Your Introverted Traits
We have established the fact that being introverted is not a bad thing. In fact, there are many valuable qualities—as discussed above—, that can help introverts to lead a successful life.
However, today’s workplace and society indeed are more geared towards introverts with a strong emphasis on social interactions (meetings, brainstorming, etc.) and generally louder and brighter environments.
Thus, many introverts struggle in this post-modern digital society especially due to three main reasons:
- Introverts lose energy in social interactions
- In situations when the introverted person is required to showcase their progress (I.e. presentation, public speaking), it demands significantly more energy that must be managed correctly
- Introverts tend to be distracted easily
So, managing those three concerns will be the key to maintaining success, and we can start by answering the following questions:
- When in the day do you feel the most productive, and at what time of the day you are the most distracted?
- What do you do on weekends? If you work on weekends, do you enjoy it or really hate it? (i.e. because you can work with fewer distractions on weekend)
- What would your ideal weekly/monthly schedule look like?
- Do you get more work done in private? Or you like working in an intimate team?
The secret to maximizing success as an introvert is to find ways to manage your energy (by finding times to be alone and recharge) and at the same time, avoid as many distractions as possible.
This is true both for professional success and social/romantic success.
So, how can we do it?
The answer is to manage three important factors of your activities that we call “EAT”: Environment, Access, and Time, it goes like this:
For introverted people, where you work is very important in getting the most of your energy. Not all of us have the luxury of getting —or even better, designing— our own office, but there are always ways to work around this. Here are our main concerns regarding the environment:
- Privacy, can we move our desk somewhere else to get more privacy, or if you work at home, can you move somewhere else (i.e. a co-working space or a quiet cafe)?
- Reduce noise as much as possible. We can, for example, use noise-canceling headphones
- Lighting is also an important factor. Cooler light spectrums tend to work better in helping us concentrate, and adjust the brightness to your comfort level
- Manage possible distractions on your devices. Turn off notifications, or use distraction blocker apps
If necessary, converse with your manager or HR department. Let them know about your introversion (remember, it’s not a bad thing), and find a solution together of how you can get more focus. Promise them better results, and provide solutions for how people can reach you—our next point below—.
One of the most distracting things for introverts is when someone disrupts us in the middle of a long, hard-earned focus. On the other hand, introverts prefer an uninterruptable quiet, personal time during their off-time to recharge.
This is why it’s important to establish limits on how people can “access” you. Most introverts know the importance of communications, it’s just a matter of control.
Communicate with your team, boss(es), and loved ones of how you’d prefer this. Set the limits, but let them know that anytime you do establish communication, you’ll give undivided attentions (and deliver this promise).
Time here actually refers to setting your own pace. If you are uncomfortable with a day full of meetings without break, adjust your pace. If you prefer a quieter time in the office, arrange so that you can come earlier (and work for a few hours alone in the office) and leave earlier to avoid traffic.
Similarly, adjust your pace at home, schedule regular times to spend with your loved ones, and let them know the times when you’d want uninterrupted privacy (but leave them with some ways to access you in an emergency).
Again, communication is key.
So, to finally answer: is being an introvert a bad thing?
Not at all!
It is, however, important to differentiate between introversion with shyness and social anxiety, which are very different things.
Introversion is a personality trait with many good qualities, and there are certainly many successful introverts.
Learning how to manage energy and avoid distractions will be the keys to leading a successful life as an introverted person.
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