Do 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 with. Introverts 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 false. Introverts 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.
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