People often classify those who are quiet as shy or introverted, often misunderstanding them or thinking of them as being stuck up. Understanding the differences between shyness vs introversion is critical to learning how to deal with people like this. You see, while shyness is something that is learned over time (and can be overcome), introversion is a personal trait. It is something that should be embraced. This article will break down the differences between shyness and introversion, as well as giving advice on how to make each more manageable.
Shyness vs Introversion: What’s the Difference?
Imagine for a moment that someone is sitting in a busy meeting. Everyone around them is chattering about the slideshow that has just been presented, while one person remains quiet. What would you think of that person? Are they shy or introverted? And what does that mean?
Well, that person could be either shy or introverted. What it really boils down to is their motivation for their quiet behavior. The shy person, for example, is likely trying to take in their surroundings. They are worried about the judgment of others, so they stay quiet as people discuss the slideshow. They are waiting to form their opinion, based on whatever may be most acceptable by their peers. The introvert, by contrast, may be stimulated by all the talking going on around them. They are not shy but turning inward to center themselves. Think of it this way—if an introvert and a shy person are standing near the wall at a party, the shy person is the one who feels like they have to be there. The introvert is the person choosing to be there.
Traits of Shyness
Shyness is a condition where someone has difficulty in social situations. They often struggle with expressing their thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Sometimes this comes from unpleasant interactions with others in the past. Other times, shyness results from barriers that are built in the mind that prevents someone from sharing. Like all barriers, with the right strategies, shyness can be overcome. Something to note is that while shyness may result in anxiety, shyness itself is not classified as a mental disorder like anxiety. It is not treated with medication, as it does not result in personal suffering.
Even though shyness can present in different ways, most people who identify as being shy share many of the following traits:
* An inability to share in social situations
* Social awkwardness or discomfort
* Racing heart or sweating palms when under stress
* Uneasy work relationships
* Difficulty finding a job because of interview nervousness
* A lack of self-confidence
* Associating with a small group of friends
* Difficulty having conversations with new people
Shyness creates barriers between you and the world around you. It holds you back from developing relationships and seizing opportunities. It can also stop you from finding happiness, especially if you long to be more social and accepted by the world around you. Below, you’ll find a few tips that can help you overcome shyness.
1. Start small- Overcoming shyness does not mean you are going to stand up tomorrow and address a group of people. Instead, start by making small talk with the checkout cashier the next time you go to the store. Say ‘hi’ and smile to a stranger on the street. Practice this until it is easier—then take it to the next step.
2. Make a list of topics- People who are shy often worry about how others perceive them. If you have problems making small talk, come up with a list of topics that are easy to discuss. You can even practice them in the mirror if you are especially nervous.
3. Join a small group- What interests you most? If you join a target-shooting range, pottery class, or another group, you already have something in common with everyone else in the room. This is a great way to meet people since there is at least one thing you can talk about.
4. Learn to take chances- Taking chances is a critical part of overcoming shyness. Think about it this way—the worst thing that the girl at the coffee shop can do is say ‘no’ when you ask her on a date. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
5. Talk yourself up- Is self-confidence defeating you? Take the time to get to know yourself. Remind yourself of your strengths and that even though you are shy, you are awesome.
Traits of Introversion
Someone who identifies as an introvert is classifying themselves as inward-focused. Being either introverted or extraverted is classified as a major personality trait, being first introduced by Carl Jung and later identified by the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is a personality test. While introverts are typically quiet and reserved, like people who struggle with shyness, they do not share the same personality traits. When they are alone, it is because they choose to be. Introverts often feel drained after social situations because of the stimulation happening around them.
Most people are part introvert and part extravert, though most have a preference for one over the other. Some common traits of introversion include:
* Feeling drained after work or social situations
* An appreciation for solitude
* A need to ‘recharge’ after being around large groups of people
* Preference for small social gatherings with close friends
* Difficulty focusing in stimulating situations
* Irritation when over stimulated
* A preference for jobs that allow independence
* The desire to work alone rather than in a group
* Self-awareness of your thoughts and emotions
Living as an Introvert
Introversion is a deep personality trait that would be almost impossible to change. As a result, it is not uncommon for introverts to clash with the outside world. They may have difficulty in certain jobs or social settings. This is not a fault of any kind—the world just favors those who are introverted. Here are a few tips to help introverts survive at home, in social settings, and at work.
1. Find time for yourself- Introverts need time to rest and recharge, so they no longer feel as depleted after a long day at work or going to a party. Set limits so you find time for yourself. If you get overwhelmed at work, spend your lunch hour in your office or an empty conference room. If you are going to a party, only stay for an hour and make time to relax beforehand. By finding time for yourself in a busy world, you’ll find yourself better able to cope with day-to-day responsibilities.
2. Communicate your needs- Introverts often have problems letting others know they need time alone. They might feel obligated to spend time with family and friends or help when it is needed. However, when they become overwhelmed, introverts might be distracted, inattentive, exhausted, or irritated. Instead of experiencing negative emotions, communicate your needs.
3. Get creative- Introverts feel emotions deeper than the average person because they are focused on their inner environment. A great outlet for these emotions is creativity, whether it is writing, painting, making music, singing, or another method.
4. Choose a job that fits- Introverts usually thrive in smaller work environments or those where they can work individually. Find something that you enjoy doing or where you can thrive. By playing to your interests and avoiding jobs that require you to interact heavily with others, you can enjoy your workplace.
What’s wrong with Being Quiet?
Whether you are shy or introverted, people who struggle with being quiet are often judged by society. Many of the people who are speaking and sharing their ideas are confident in their abilities. Other speakers are just that—speakers. They are extraverted and outgoing, so they do not care what others think of them.
There is technically nothing wrong with being quiet. People who are quiet are often observing their environment. They are considered thinkers and dreamers. These people often have the power to come up with great ideas and make incredible things happen—but they lack the confidence or willingness to share those ideas with the world. However, many people don’t understand this. They look at people who are shy or introverted as being submissive. Those who are quieter may also be seen as standoffish or stuck up.
It is also important to keep in mind, however, that being shy or introverted has the potential to hold you back. It stops you from meeting new people, forming relationships, and finding opportunities. People also will not look at you as being a leader and you can be overlooked since people are taught that being louder means more power and more power is better.
There is nothing wrong with shyness or introversion—except when it holds you back from achieving in life. As you consider the traits of shyness vs. introversion, remember that identifying which you are is the first step in treating it. People who are shy can overcome it, while introverts can take steps to help them interact in a more beneficial way. Hopefully, this article has helped you overcome those traits that may be holding you back!