Introvert Personality: What Does Being Introverted Mean?

The Introvert Personality Type: Myth and Reality

You probably know that people can generally be divided into two groups, depending on whether they are introverts or extroverts (also written 'extraverts'). These terms have been used for many years by psychologists and are also used by people who are interested in personality, including employers. If asked to define introvert, the ideas that come to mind are likely to be different depending on whether you are an introvert yourself compared with the views held by extroverts, who can sometimes be dismissive of the many positive qualities that introverts have.

Of course, we have to be careful when talking about introverts vs extroverts not to make it a 'them and us' scenario. For a start, it's not a black and white thing. Think instead of a scale, where some people are more introverted, some are more extraverted, and some sit around the middle. There are people who can genuinely not tell you if they are introverts or extroverts, not because they are being awkward or lack self-knowledge but simply because they identify with traits of both. Even if you know you are an introvert most of the time, you might have extroverted moments, and the same for extroverts who sometimes feel introverted.

However, there are also misconceptions about introverts and we can be made to feel inadequate by our extroverted society sometimes. It's important to know there is nothing wrong with being an introvert, just as there is nothing wrong with being an extrovert. For those who identify strongly with one side or the other, each has their strengths in different situations.

Text copyright IndigoJanson

Image Credit: Courtesy of dionsilva on morgueFile.com

Do You Think You are an Introvert?

Introverted, Extraverted, or Somewhere in the Middle

Introvert Myths

5 Myths about Being Introverted

Things People Sometimes Say about Introverts

There are a lot of myths about introversion vs extraversion. Let's try to sort the myths and misconceptions from the reality.

Introvert Myth 1:

Introverts need to be fixed

It is perfectly normal to be an introvert. I sometimes see parents complaining that their child is introverted. It usually turns out that the parents are extroverts. They often speak from concern that their child is different from them and that they will find life hard. Actually, the child is probably perfectly happy with her rich inner world and being forced into the company of other children when she is not in the mood can be stressful.

As an adult, your extrovert friends or relatives can have a similar view that you need to get out more, be with people, 'make an effort' to be social.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with you. You do not need to be fixed. If you have low self-esteem from being bullied for being an introvert (or for other reasons), you might have other issues and need to heal, but introversion itself is neither a disorder nor a disability.

Happy Introvert Coffee Mugs Happy Introvert Coffee Mugs by SolitudeSeekers

Introvert Myth 2:

Introverts are shy

Introverts are not necessarily shy. Being an introvert means that you take energy from your inner world. You recharge by being alone or doing quiet, introspective activities. Extroverts, on the other hand, draw energy from social situations.

This does not mean that you are shy. It just means that you need a certain amount of solitude or time spent with people who don't make social demands on you. 

There might be times when you want to go to a party or be with a group of friends and have fun together. Or you might like meeting new people, especially those who share your interests.

Shy people find it hard to approach or talk to people they want to know better. Introverts sometimes don't approach people simply because they are happy in their own company.

Of course, you can be both an introvert and shy, but being one doesn't automatically mean you are the other.

Just because I don't like people doesn't mean (L) Print
Just because I don't like people doesn't mean Print by disgruntled_genius

Introvert Myth 3:

Introverts are anti-social (and that's a bad, bad thing)

This can be a dangerous myth. Have you noticed how the media love to point out when the person behind a shooting was a loner?

This just isn't fair. Murderers and psychopaths always have other issues. Some have introverted traits, but equally some psychopaths are skilled at manipulating others and turning on the charm. They would be described as extroverted. 

Introverts often have just a few good friends instead of a whole crowd of superficial relationships. Some introverts are completely solitary and value the companionship of animals or gain enjoyment from nature or hobbies rather than seeking out human contact.

The fact that someone has few friends does not mean that he is likely to be a threat. You can be happy with your own company but this does not make you anti-social. A true anti-social person is someone who is out to do harm to others or is unpleasant to be with. Most introverts, on the other hand, are busy minding their own business.

Rather than being antisocial, you might be asocial, which means you don't seek out social relationships and given the choice you'd rather not be around others. There's nothing dangerous in that, and it's only 'unhealthy' if it makes you unhappy or otherwise threatens your health or safety.

Antisocial -- Funny Definition (Dark version) Shirts

Antisocial -- Funny Definition Shirts by SolitudeSeekers

Introvert Myth 4:

Introverts are weird or are wired differently

Ever had someone tell you that you are 'weird' because you are not as socially-motivated as they are? The trouble is, our Western cultures have extroverted societies. From school through to the workplace, the socially-skilled are rewarded.

It has reached a point where job advertisements demand team players rather than people who work well alone. Employers will run psychometric tests which more often than not separate the 'bubbly personalities' from the quiet applicants, rejecting this second group regardless of how hard one category works compared with the other. For some jobs it's even made clear at application stage that you will be expected to socialize outside of work hours.

The not-very-hidden message is that 'introverts need to apply'. In fact, good jobs for introverts can be hard to come by in workplaces where being social means getting promotions and other opportunities.

No wonder introverts fear they are weird and find it hard to fit in.

For some, their introverted personalities exist alongside other issues. For example, people with Asperger's syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism often appear to be extreme introverts. Being around people can be very stressful or just plain frustrating due to a difficulty in acquiring social skills that are instinctive for ordinary people. That said, there are people with AS who consider themselves to be extroverts. They may relate to people differently from an ordinary extrovert and can have trouble determining when the other person is tired of certain topics, but they are still on the extroversion side of the scale.

It works both ways. If you are an introvert, you don't automatically fall on the autistic spectrum. And, regardless of whether you are just introverted or also have AS traits, you are not weird!

Weird Pin

Weird Pin by romeotees

Introvert Myth 5:

It's better to hire extroverts

This follows on from the last section and the sad reality that many employers screen out introverts. 

Just because a lot of workplaces are consciously promoting an extraverted culture doesn't mean you are lacking. Many introverts are very hard-working. They can be less easily-distracted than extrovert workers and very conscientious, taking a pride in their work.

Introverts can also be very pleasant when working with the public. It's a myth that introverts have sulky expressions and bad attitudes in customer facing roles! They do need some 'down time' to recover from being around people for long periods of time, especially if things are busy and stressful. But many introverts cope by having quiet time at home and actually are very undemanding employees.

Also, while an introvert might not shout out every idea that crosses their mind, he or she may be very talented and have well thought out suggestions. Introverts often take the time to learn and master workplace systems and procedures too.

An organization that only employs extroverts will be missing out on a valuable resource. If everybody is talking, who is listening and sorting the useful from the hot air?

Introverts also have strong chances of success in certain types of self-employment as they tend to have good self-discipline.

Your Turn to be Quiet Magnets

Your Turn to be Quiet Magnets by SolitudeSeekers

Love Being an Awesome Introvert?

Or just feeling blue?

Reasons to Love Being an Introvert!

Great Things About Introverts

The World is a Better Place for Having You in it!

OK, so what's good about being an introvert? 

Lots of things!

Here are just some ideas. Some might fit you better than others, after all we are all different. Feel free to leave further suggestions in the comments section.

Introverts have a strong appreciation of nature

Introverts work hard and are often especially good at complex and detailed work

Introverts can be loyal friends and wonderful listeners

Introverts don't always say much, but when they share their thoughts they are worth listening to

Introverts often share a bond with animals and are kind and gentle with them

Introverts tend to be creative and may have artistic or musical gifts, or may be technically skilled

Introverts add balance to workplaces and social situations

Introverts can be supportive and loving, letting extroverts take center stage but being there for them

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Anything to Say about Being an Introvert?

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Comments

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50 leaves
162 forum posts
belinda342 on said:
I'm a rare breed. I'm generally an Introvert...until you ask me to speak in front of a group. Then I turn into a bit of a ham. It flabbergasted my Toastmaster's group to no end to see what this kind of shy introvert turned into once she took center stage!
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16 leaves
65 forum posts
Public speaking is a great skill to master! Good to see an Introvert breaking the stereotype of someone who won't speak in front of a group.
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1102 forum posts
Bonita on said:
Great leaf! I'm less of an introvert than I used to be, but I still have lots of the traits. I'm the hard worker who recharges by being alone and who prefers a few deep friendships over a bunch of shallow ones.

I'm also the introvert who has found herself in a role she never dreamed possible- public speaker! Go figure!
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16 leaves
65 forum posts
Thanks Bonita. And another public speaker! You and Belinda certainly put paid to the myth that having introvert traits means speaking to a crowd is out of the question. It's something I've had to do too, as it was part of my job, but I'd still rather be in the audience that out front.
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8 leaves
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I think you covered it all! I appreciate the blog links. Thanks for the insights.
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Butterfly on said:
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and wisdom, Indigo. I fit well under many of the introvert descriptions. I used to feel like something was wrong with me because of comments that extroverts around me would make, but now I am very content and confident with who I am. I look at my introvert tendencies as strengths instead of weaknesses and hope that other introverts feel the same.
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101 leaves
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bill on said:
Haha, I like the "don't try to convert this happy introvert" mug. I hear what you're saying about the workplace discrimination about introverts vs. extroverts. To be honest, extroverts are probably the more expensive type of employee to have because they usually thrive off work parties. Businesses should be embracing the low maintenance introvert in a financial crisis, shouldn't they?
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tvjunkie on said:
I love this! There are likely a lot more introverts in the world than people might think but it's not "acceptable" to be introverted so people often force themselves into a mold that doesn't quite fit. So glad that you wrote this.
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Anonymous on said:
This info is great. I'm a extrovert. I'm in love with a intravert. And it is frustrating at times. He is also a pisces. And I'm a sagittarius. And we are trying to get to know eachother. And I want to pull my hair out at times. But. I now know I have to be patient and I understand now why he does what he does. Thank you.
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16 leaves
65 forum posts
Thanks so much for your commment sharing your thoughts on extrovert-introvert relationships. Sure they have their challenges but look at it this way... you can each bring your own different strengths and positive qualities to the relationship and help one another. :)

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