Are you often called quiet or shy, but feel that you’re vibrant and engaging when you want to be?
Do you find that you handle smaller groups of close friends better, and feel exhausted when around a larger number of people?
You might be an introvert. But don’t despair, this can be a great personality trait if you know how to make the most of it.
While people throw the word ‘introvert’ around with negative connotations and a way to describe someone who is quiet, this can be very far from the mark.
What is an introvert? How to make out of it.
Introverts vs Extroverts
No, they’re not some scary monster hiding in the shadows! Introverts are people who are drained by social encounters and energised by taking time out to themselves.
Introverts have a limit when it comes to stimulation. If you think of it as a cup of energy…for introverts, many social environments will slowly drain that cup.
Once that amount of energy has been depleted, we need some time alone to recharge.
Extroverts, on the other hand, find time alone boring, and this drains their cup, requiring stimulating social interactions to charge back up again.
They gain energy from social interaction, rather than losing it. I consider myself a confident person; I’m happy with where I am in my life and what I’ve achieved.
I like to talk to people who are interesting, and consider myself quite social when I want to be…but I am an introvert.
Being social in a large group used to feel like a performance to me, where I would put my best face forward, and be exhausted by the end of the exercise, needing some time out.
Now that I understand my introversion, I see that’s it not a performance, but that’s me running on a full tank of fuel…as that fuel begins to get depleted, I get distracted easily, my mind wanders, and I feel mentally exhausted.
I need to sit quietly by myself, and my thoughts. And I’m okay with that. Introversion and extraversion are generally thought of like the extremes on either end of a spectrum.
Introverts: Hidden features
According to many theories of personality, everyone has some degree of both introversion and extraversion.
However, people often tend to lean more towards one end of the spectrum. And according to many estimates, extraverts outnumber introverts somewhere around two or three to one, making them the rarer breed.
People who are introverted tend to be focused more on internal thoughts, feelings, and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.
An environment that overstimulates an introvert, will cause them to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, rather than being excited and engaged.
After attending a party or spending time with a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to ‘recharge’, by spending a period of time alone.
Introversion is different from being shy
Shyness can be a lack of self-confidence and a fear of social judgement. While many shy people are introverted, not all introverts are shy.
Shyness indicates a fear of people or social situations, and refers to behaviours while with others, as feelings of tension and discomfort.
Although the stereotype of an introvert might be the quiet one at the party, who are hanging out alone by the food table staring at their phone, the ‘social butterfly’ can just as easily have an introverted personality.
A lot of introverts can pass as extroverts, and that is where the lines of definition can blur.
This idea, in particular, has helped me to understand my own introversion while being quite a social person at times.
So now the question has to be asked….
Do you find small talk unbearable?
Just the idea of small talk or idle chatter can be a source of anxiety for introverts.
They find this method of interaction intimidating, boring, and exhausting, all in one! For them, this form of communication doesn’t feel genuine, and they prefer conversations with substance.
Being known as deep thinkers, introverts will prefer heavier conversations about life and philosophical ideas.
Get us with a similarly minded person, who we feel comfortable with, and we can talk for hours! Do you have a love-hate relationship with your phone, where you screen all your calls, even from your friends and family?
It doesn’t matter who it is calling; introverts usually find a ringing phone one of the most unnerving events that can happen.
We find it intrusive, as it forces us to tear our mind away and abandon the focus on what we’re currently working on.
It can be just like someone jumping out from the closet and yelling “Boo!”. To add to this nightmare, many of these phone calls require an element of small talk as well, so avoiding that like the plague is our default setting.
An introvert will prefer to return the call when they can dedicate the energy and undivided attention.
Do you have a constantly running inner monologue?
I cannot turn off my mind from constantly thinking about the next thing; what I’m currently working on and what can be done now, as well as my hopes and dreams and how I plan to get there.
This can be exhausting!
This is a very different internal talking from that of the extrovert; many introverts need to think first and talk later.
Do you enjoy your time alone, and don’t find it boring?
Introverts not only like their alone time but need it to survive. Where an extrovert may find such solitude boring and a waste of time, introverts require this withdrawal to recharge their batteries and find it a productive and satisfying use of their time.
Other common tell-tale signs of introversion can include:
– Having a small, close-knit group of friends, rather than a large network of acquaintances.
– You feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing than talking face to face.
– You start to shut down when you’ve been active for too long.
– You like to keep your emotions private and don’t want anyone to see you cry or get upset.
– You fiercely guard your personal space and will need some time-out if it has been intruded upon.
– You find that you get easily distracted.
But don’t let being an introvert be associated with some kind of personality disorder…embrace your introversion and know how to get the most out of each situation you face in life.
Embrace your introversion, How?
Introverts quite often find that people try to change them, or suggest that something is wrong with them…but nothing could be further from the truth.
If you know where your strengths lie, you can tailor experiences to suit, and if you know your weaknesses, you can avoid potentially damaging situations to your self-confidence and get to know how you can boost your confidence.
In this case, being the change doesn’t mean to change your personality…not at all…embrace it!
The change is being able to identify your personality traits, and change your world and the way you operate so that you inspire yourself with confidence, to go out and do what you need to do each and every day!
Downtime is necessary
Firstly, you need to ensure that you don’t perceive downtime as unproductive; think of it like charging your phone.
Whether it’s sitting quietly and reading a book, or working on a solo project, you need this vital time with your thoughts to have an energy for everything else.
You’re going to need that battery fully charged to go out and tackle the world around you, so be ready!
Be a good listener
You should learn to harness your natural ability at being a good listener.
Introverts have a reputation for being great listeners, and this comes from the fact that they are very calculated before sharing their thoughts.
They sit back and observe their surroundings, and take in what everybody else is saying before they feel compelled to speak up.
Use this trait to your advantage; nobody likes the pushy extrovert who takes over conversations and cuts people off mid-sentence.
Good listening skills are imperative in all areas of business, industry and other working sectors.
Be prepared to shut down
Be aware that you will start to shut down if you’ve been active for a while.Everybody has different limits, and you should know yours.
If you’ve been at a gathering of a large number of people for a few hours, you might find yourself zoning out, becoming easily distracted, and feeling drained and exhausted.
These are classic signs of the introvert running on empty…if you know your limit; you can plan your departure to get away for some quiet time.
Put in the effort to interact with everybody as you need to, and when you’re ready, allow yourself a guilt-free exit to recharge.
Express yourself in writing
Where possible, express yourself in writing or prepare what you will say. If someone at work is asking you in person for a detailed response, and you know that you aren’t great on the spot and would like to consider your response, let them know that you’d like to have a look at everything and you’ll email them back.
This way you can take in all the info required, and when you are ready and focused, can reply to their query.
Also, if you have a meeting coming up where you think you may be called upon to provide input, you could ask your boss ahead for any intel as to the topic of the meeting and possible lines of questioning.
This way, you can again be prepared with what you would like to say and the points you would like to make, in a planned and calculated manner.
Public speaking can be your friend
Funnily enough, many introverts have been known to be brilliant public speakers, and able to easily deliver presentations to large rooms of people.
This is because these scenarios are planned and rehearsed. They know what they’re going to talk about, and they have the stage….what the introverted speaker will find daunting, however, is having to mingle with that crowd afterwards and engage in the dreaded small talk.
Don’t think that because you can be reserved in some situations, that you aren’t a good speaker.
If it’s something that you haven’t tried before, you should practise and have a go at it.
For those introverts who find it difficult to mingle with some of their managers in a work environment due to the small talk required, volunteering to give a presentation to the bosses when someone needs to, can be a great way to get noticed as a star performer and help climb your way to a better position in the company.
Also, be mindful that being an introvert doesn’t mean that executive positions aren’t achievable for you.
While the world does tend to be tailored more for the extrovert, whether it be the workplace or the school system, your introspective traits can be valuable towards commanding higher positions.
Utilising your ability to take in all the details and analyse situations thoroughly, before speaking or acting, can make you a great decision maker.
There are many well-known Fortune 500 CEOs who are in fact introverts, so the sky is the limit for you!
Observer and aware: Good decision maker and judge of character
Don’t discount your ability to achieve great things. There are some other points to be aware of to make the most of your introversion…Introverts tend to be extremely observant and mindful of their surroundings.
This comes from their predisposition to sit back, listen and observe. We’ve already covered a few of the benefits resulting from this, such as being a good listener and decision maker.
It can also make you a great judge of character. As an introvert, you are more likely to stand back and size someone up before really letting them in.
This allows you to make an objective assessment of them, and you will do this naturally before committing to much of a conversation with anyone.
It’s the introvert’s way.
A by-product of this behaviour also means that you may keep an air of mystery about you, which can intrigue people to want to know more about you, and some people just like to be mysterious.
It could also be considered that introverts are great at getting stuff done, as their desire is to be left alone and carry out their work in solitude, allowing them to completely focus and concentrate on what they’re doing.
Proud to be an introvert
An introvert’s personality also makes them a perfect candidate for a very close and loyal friend.
While they can come off withdrawn at first, once an introvert lets you into their inner circle, you will most likely have a friend for life!
While I mentioned that there are many introverted CEOs and successful people, other well-known introverts include Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Queen Elizabeth II, Michael Jordan,
Bruce Lee, Mahatma Gandhi. Many leaders such as Barak Obama, Abraham Lincoln, the most successful investor in the world Warren Buffet, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page, Yahoo!
CEO Marissa Mayer, Elon Musk; founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla. Also entertainers such as Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lady Gaga (I know, crazy, right?).
I present all of these names merely to show you, that you can do anything!
Sure, some of those names you might expect, like a famous scientist, or a nerdy programmer running a tech start-up.
But among that list are world leaders, there are extremely influential and successful people, and entertainers who perform for millions of people for a living.
Anything is possible, so don’t allow yourself to be pigeon-holed into someone else’s idea of an introvert.
By understanding the way you work and react, you can embrace your introversion and make the most out of life by using all of these factors to your advantage.
Be the change that you want to see in the world, and be proud to be an introvert!