Extraverts Don’t Understand Introverts

PinExt Extraverts Don’t Understand Introverts

introvert Extraverts Don’t Understand IntrovertsDo you understand the real differences between introverts and extraverts?

There is a lot of misunderstanding about these two personality types.  This leads to unnecessary interpersonal conflict in the home and at work.

Which are you an introvert or an extravert?  What are your children?  What is your spouse?  It is extremely important to know.  It can explain a lot about how you get along.

I’ve heard from several people saying, “Man, if I’d only understood our differences sooner.  I could have avoided so many fights.  It all makes perfect sense now.”  My hope is that I can help you avoid being one of these people looking back with regrets by shining a little light on this issue.

Introverts Are Not Weird Just Misunderstood

I am an introvert so I’m going to approach this subject from the angle I know the best.  Also, this approach makes sense because introverts are the ones most misunderstood in the current culture. 

I don’t think it will be a surprise to anyone when I say that our society embraces being an extravert as the desired way to be.  This is despite the fact that somewhere around half of all people are introverts.

Extraverts, I implore you, please learn to understand and accept us introverts. We are not weird, lacking personality or dysfunctional.  We are simply different from you.  Nobody did this to us.  We were born this way.  Our personalities are not stunted nor do we lack confidence.  We just interact with the world differently than you do.

There are a lot of misconceptions about us introverts and we’ve had to deal with this all our lives.  We’re not asking for any special consideration or status.  We just want you to stop thinking less of us because we are different.

Ways Extraverts Don’t Understand Introverts

There are several common misconceptions about introverts that I want to uncover today to help you understand us better.  Along the way, I’ll contrast this with the way extraverts approach life to help you gain some insight into how conflicts arise.

Here are some mistaken ideas about introverts:

1.  Introverts Are Antisocial

This is not true.  We definitely crave relationships and social interaction.  We just don’t need it in the same way as an extravert.  It all boils down to the primary difference between the two personality types.  You see, extraverts gain energy from interacting with other people.  They come alive and get energized at big parties that offer lots of opportunities to interact.  Introverts on the other hand expend energy in these group settings.  We recharge by being alone and enjoying some peace and quiet.  This big difference is exactly where a lot of friction occurs in relationships.

2.  Introverts Are Shy or Lack Confidence

Again, not true and once again I think this perception is derived directly from the key difference.  Extraverts assume we are shy or lack confidence simply because we don’t feel the need to interact with strangers like they do.  Introverts are not big on small talk.  We prefer to get to the heart of the matter.  We want to have a few close friends as opposed to a wide number of casual acquaintances.  Plus, engaging with people we don’t know very well is draining to us.  Therefore, we don’t want to do it all the time.  It doesn’t mean we can’t.  It just means we don’t want to unless we are well rested and in the mood.  This tends to make extraverts think we are shy.  A totally inaccurate perception.

3.  Introverts Are Less Successful

It is commonly thought that extraverts are more successful, but this really isn’t true either.  There are plenty of successful introverts out there.  So, if you have a child that you think is an introvert, please don’t try to change them because this will likely cause more harm than good.   

You can rest assured that being an introvert will not ruin someone’s life.  Johnny Carson and Jerry Seinfeld are both introverts.  Bill Gates is an introvert.  Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan are all introverts.  So was Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein.  These are some pretty successful people in my book.  Being one personality type versus another has nothing to do with how successful you become.  However, understanding and accepting yourself as you are is important.

4.  Introverts Are Boring

This one makes me chuckle.  Just because we aren’t the life of the party doesn’t mean we are boring.  We just prefer different types of entertainment.  Of course, what we like will probably seem a whole lot less interesting to extraverts.  Again, this is a point of contention.  Extraverts are going to want to do things where they can interact.  It isn’t so much what they are doing, but who they are doing it withIntroverts will likely prefer solo adventures.  You can be bungee jumping off the highest bridge in the world, but it will lack something for an extravert if there isn’t a crowd around to enjoy it with them.

Introverts may enjoy things like piloting small planes, scuba diving, traveling, kayaking, biking and mountain climbing.  Extraverts may like these too, but probably for different reasons.  They’ll want to be in the associated clubs.  We’ll just mainly want to engage in the activity.

5.  Introverts Lack Intelligence and Creativity

Introverts are definitely smart people.  Did you read the list of introverted actors, actresses, comedians and scientists above?  There is plenty of evidence that this common misconception is completely falseIntroverts are often intense thinkers, but we’ll usually hold our ideas in until they are fully formed.  Also, we’ll likely prefer to run our suggestions by a few close colleagues first before we share with the group.

Because we are often quiet and sometimes bored in meetings, we get labeled as less capable or lacking creativity.  Again, we are just different.  We like to think things over.  We like to let things percolate in our minds and we like to gather our thoughts before we engage.

A Little Understanding Can Go a Long Way

The difference between introverts and extraverts is a scale.  You can be all the way on one side or the other or you can be right about in the middle.  No two people are exactly the same even if they identify more with the introverted personality type or the extraverted type.  Everyone is unique.  Therefore, while these generalizations can help, you still need to spend some time trying to understand the individuals in your life.  Use the things I’ve presented here as a place to start.  Talk it over.  A little understanding in this area can really go a long way toward solving some pretty big differences.

Are you an introvert or extravert?  Have you struggled with being misunderstood or have you had problems in your relationships due to these issues?  Please leave a comment and let us know.  Your contribution may very well help others.

Photo: Copyright PhotoXpress.com

PinExt Extraverts Don’t Understand Introverts

26 thoughts on “Extraverts Don’t Understand Introverts

  1. Having known myself as an introvert, I can relate with your points very well. And yes, they are right, and I’m grateful to find another introvert that actually write this article. Keep up the good work, Jeff.

    • Myrz, it is nice to meet you. Thanks for confirming what I’ve written today about introverts is accurate. I hope it helps people accept the differences between these two personality types.

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I’m so tired of people thinking that because I’m quiet, I’m shy or even fearful. Not so. The assumptions that people make are astounding. There is also a tendency for extroverted people to assume that they can just overwhelm me and get me “on board” through the sheer force of their will, as if because I’m not chattering away all the time I don’t have a thought in my head. These folks, as a result, as completely stymied by my intensity when the moment comes for me to say what’s been percolating under that calm surface.

    Great piece!

    • Phyllis, I feel the same way sometimes. I hope by talking openly about the differences that more people will understand.

  3. I love this post, Jeff. So insightful and clarifying. I have a little bit of both personality traits, so I really relate to it all. Still, at my core I’m an introvert.

    I love being around large groups of people, but I would usually prefer watching them interact with each other than being at the center of the show. I can be at the center, no particular problem, just usually prefer the sidelines. I love watching how people communicate and interact. I love watching how others, people who no one else is looking at, react to others. I think that’s another thing about introverts: we’re people watchers.

    Again, great post, Jeff!

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  5. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the enlightenment. I always feel I’m different from others as I’m an introvert. I prefer to be alone at times. During party/large group gathering, I’m always the quiet and ‘left-out’ one. However, I’m better at communicating in a group of two or three. The ball and joy will keep rolling compared to large group.

    • Si3wLiNg, this is very typical of introverts. We definitely prefer smaller groups. You are different than about half of the world’s population, but there are plenty of other introverts out there. You just need to find a few to connect with. I wish you the best!

  6. You nailed it, Jeff. As an introvert I feel overwhelmed and drained if I have to participate or even be in a large gathering, however I like to observe from afar. I happen to be a bit shy, but that does not mean all introverts are shy. However, sometimes I find it easier to connect with an extravert than with another introvert like me. Thanks for this refreshing post.

  7. Great post! Something you said really struck a chord with me, and helped explain something about myself that I have long pondered. I enjoy being by myself the majority of the time, but when I want to be out, I suddenly turn into an extravert. During these times, I love large crowds, will interact with strangers, become very outgoing, no problem in creating and keeping up conversation, but the moment I get home, I’m exhausted and feel the urge to be by myself for another week. My boyfriend is the opposite, he’ll be exhausted and feel the need to socialize to overcome it. What you said makes sense: introverts expend energy when socializing; extraverts gain it. I have always felt I need to store up energy, or get myself revved up to be social, and though I crave a strong and intense social fix about once a week, the rest of the time I’d rather be doing my own thing. Huh.

    • Melissa, I’m glad this article helped you understand you and your boyfriend a little better. These differences can certainly lead to friction in a relationship. A little understanding goes a long way toward helping to avoid some big fights.

  8. Hi, I’m an introvert too….For many years, I thought I’m just shy, but I’ve realized a few years back, that I am an introvert. Well, I find it so difficult to adjust and get along with people at work, because I don’t speak much. They feel i’m cold, aloof and not bothered kind of. I really wonder how I can change myself so I can get along with them better. I’ve realized you have to ‘talk’ if you want to succeed in life!

  9. I have realized in the past year that I am an introvert. My entire family is extraverted and I am very misunderstood. I have tried time after time to explain (realized it’s pretty much pointless); they think that it is bad to be an introvert and really don’t take what I say into consideration.

    In onomatopoeia; UGH RAH GRRRRRR.

  10. Hey, I’m definitely an introvert. I’m known as the “smart girl who never talks”. It kind of annoys me and slightly hurts. I do talk. Just not to people who I think will make fun of me or be really obnoxious. I’m self-cautious about what people will think about me. It’s also easier for me to function things being alone. it’s just how I am. Many people think I’m a loner or I’m awkward…even my parents. Why can’t they understand that some people are like this and it’s just who I am. I do have friends, I small nice group. I don’t invite them over because I’m afraid they’ll make fun of my apartment. My parents nag me all the time about making new buddies and inviting them over but it’s just so hard to ask I don’t know why…oh and I’m in 8th grade, 14 years old. I thought I’d grow out of it but I think I never will. Is there any way you can make yourself less shy? It’s not healthly for me to be so anti-social and I need help from you. Thanks for this!!:)-Taylor

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  12. A few things I want to mention.
    1) I think even though extroverts think they ‘know’ why introverts are doing (or not doing) whatever, they very seldom ‘understand and accept it’ as a viable alternative as to what the extrover thinks. Controversely, I believe introverts understand and accept the ‘extrovert way’ very well. They just don’t always want to be a part of it.
    2) Extroverts and introverts ‘see’ many things differently including money and, perhaps what and how it is used.
    3) Extoverts never know when to be silent and actually LISTEN to what introverts say. They are too busy talking and figuring out what they are going to say next.
    My husband and I are introverts. We see our house this way: We like it and want to live in it for the rest of our lives. We aren’t interested in keeping it up stylewise for the resale value. My extrovert friend ALWAYS is thinking about the resale value and is always trying to ‘OPTIMIZE’ the value. We just want it to be safe for us and comfy, for us.
    Introverts mull over problems in their minds while extroverts talk out loud about them. Even if an introvert says they need time to think, the extrovert’s ‘wait time’ is probably less than 3 minutes. An introvert can think about it for days before coming up with how they feel or what they think.
    Extroverts think that an introvert sitting quietly reading a book or listening to music lives in a cold, drab, gray world of nothing. Introverts, however, have an exciting mind full of stuff going on. Extroverts do not get this and I don’t think they ever will be able to fully understand—-because they NEED the noise. They think because that’s the way THEY are, that’s normal and the other way isn’t.
    Just some thoughts…………

  13. You know I have heard my wife tell me time and time again many of the things that encompass her nature of being an Introvert, but until I did some reading on my own did I realize that this is the core of her nature. Here are some rules that I wish I would have known when we first met and i think our ride my have been a little smoother and had less butting of heads.

    10 Tips on Talking to Introverted Personality Types and Traits
    These tips on talking to introverts work well with anybody – introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between!
    1. Set a time to discuss big issues. This gives introverts time to prepare their thoughts.
    2. Let introverts talk – don’t interrupt. “It takes energy for introverts to start talking again,” says Dr Laney in The Introvert Advantage.
    3. Occasionally communicate in writing. Introverts may prefer written communication because it’s less stimulating.
    4. Ask questions, such as what happened during the day. Introverts may need to be drawn out.
    5. Give them a chance to talk. Offer silence, which may prompt people with introverted personality traits to share their thoughts.
    6. Be comfortable with silence. Introverts generally like it quiet – but they also enjoy spending time with others. Quietly.
    7. Repeat what you heard them say. Ask introverts if your summary was accurate.
    8. Use nonverbal communication. According to Laney, shoulder pats, hand holding, kisses on the cheek are effective ways to “talk” to people with introverted personality traits.
    9. Appreciate how much energy it takes introverts to be with people – whether it’s a group or just you. Show your appreciation.
    10. Get comfortable with a different conversational pace. Learn to value how introverts communicate – because it is different than people with extroverted personality traits!

    Extroverts pay attention and take the rules VERY literally because they are golden to an introvert and seemingly so elementary that they just don’t get how we DON’T get it.

  14. My roommate is introverted, and she has close friends…back home. We’re in a new town and there is no one (except me occasionally) that she hangs out with, NOT smaller groups, pretty much no one outside classes: she stays in her room on stumbleupon,

    Any insight on this? Please?

    • she may not want any new friends. probably doesnt. seems weird to you, but you are probably enough for her right now. I see its probably annoying to you , so talk with her , let her know the pressure of being her only friend is draining. She may need other introverts to hang out with, but if shes hanging with you, shes probably only meeting other extroverts.

      • I agree with this. I am, in some ways, like the roommate. College is especially difficult for an introvert because so many kids are extroverts it’s hard to find the introverts. Parties are everything in college and it makes it even more difficult for introverts to fit in. When you are told that college is all about going out and making new “friends”, that can be hard and draining work for an introvert.

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  16. Sir you may have just saved my marriage with this article. I didnt even know the feelings I had, much less did I know they were a personality trait. Most people write me off as a jerk because of my need to recharge or find alone time after parties…even me sometimes, but now I know Im normal. Thanks!

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