Introversion and Extroversion

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By: Ross Purdy

There seems to be a misunderstanding in our society about what it means to be extroverted or introverted. Introvert seems to be used by people as a one size fits all label for all shy people and extrovert for more gregarious people. Whilst some introverted people may be quiet and timid and extroverts may be more loud and aggressive, this is not the case for all of those who fall on the spectrum of either categories.

Introversion and extroversion are personality types in people.  Introversion is manifested in more reflective, reserved and quiet behaviour. Introverts enjoy internal activity: thinking and exploring thoughts and feelings. They might have good social skills but prefer to avoid social situations due to their energy draining quickly after a short while, needing probably double the time to recharge again. Extroverts are, however, energised by constantly engaging with the outside world.

Extroverts can’t abide being alone for too long, their energy is drained without company and they would leap at the first opportunity to spend time with someone. Extroverts usually don’t like being left alone with their thoughts, whilst introverts do; they are quite happy keeping their own company and might prefer to keep to themselves, but this does not mean they hate people, think they’re better than others, or whatever else some might think.

This is also true if an introvert is hesitant to engage in small talk. It can often be painful for introverts, whilst it can be a great ice breaker for conversation, it’s often seen by introverts as superficial and meaningless and it can feel quite awkward for them to manoeuvre through questions about the weather and such.

Introverts are just generally quiet and prefer to keep to themselves but will talk in great length if the subject interests them; generally preferring to talk about more complex ideas than small talk usually allows, but can pave the way for. Introverts would prefer not to wade through small talk to get to more stimulating conversation.

The two personality types were initially proposed and developed by Carl Jung, a renowned psychotherapist and therapist who founded analytical psychology. These personality concepts are a part of virtually all comprehensive models including the Myer Briggs-Type indicator.

But introversion and extroversion aren’t exactly fixed categories and there is in fact a personality spectrum on which you can be measured on that can determine the level of introversion and or extroversion you may be on – In some cases you may turn out to be an ‘ambivert’ which falls in the gap between the two traits.

People who are introverts aren’t necessarily shy, although shy people can also be introverts (so can extroverts actually), they’re just better at looking inward for their stimulation rather than extroverts who look to the outside world for their stimulation.

Western society in particular (in comparison to the East) favours the extroverted types who appear friendly and are talkative, whilst introverts are pressured in to being extroverted as it’s seemingly the only way to be happy according to most. This could lead to low self-esteem and unhappiness in introverts with others telling them they should be more sociable and like ‘everyone else’, effectively telling them who they are is not normal.

One is not better than the other, despite our obvious societal bias towards introverts when it comes to schooling, the work force, etc… because extroverted people are seen as suiting leadership roles better, due to their assertiveness and sociability. These extroverted traits, and many more, are seen as positive traits that should be looked up to as the standard for anyone in order to be successful.

There is actually no real evidence that extroverts are better workers and leaders then introverts, despite what conventional theory claims. In some cases, introverts are actually better leaders because they’re more likely to listen and pay attention, and they’re also more likely to be careful and deliberate in their decision making which can be a great help. Just because introverts might not readily jump into a discussion and be constantly engaging with others doesn’t mean that they have nothing to offer.

I hope this has helped clarify the definitions of introversion and extroversion and helped you better understand and see the worth of often misunderstood introverted people.

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