We live in a world where extroversion is the norm. Introverts make up about 25% of the population yet they are often misunderstood and undervalued.
In this post Martin Webster dispels some of the myths about introversion and explains what extroverts should know about introverts. We also share 3 practical tips for understanding introverts.
Quiet people are often found to have profound insights. The shallow water in a brook or river runs fast: the deep water seems calmer. – James Rogers
What Extroverts Should Know About Introverts
I’m a right-brained introvert. But I’m neither shy nor aloof. At work I appear calm, self-contained, and notice detail many others don’t see. I listen more than I talk. And I prefer to think before I speak — often rehearsing things first. I am creative.
These are some of my personality traits. You may share some of them or none at all.
It doesn’t matter. We are all different. There is no right point of view.
The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong. – Carl Jung
We must each learn to live with the natural range of our temperament. And in so doing we can learn to value the strengths of both introverts and extroverts.
Understanding an Introvert
We are all born with an innate temperament. Our genes prescribe where we rest on a continuum between extremes of introversion and extroversion.
Understanding an introvert isn’t rocket science — it’s simply recognising and valuing differences.
Since our temperament is determined by our physiology it is not something we can change. Therefore it is beneficial to understand our temperament and our personality preferences so we may appreciate the differences between ourselves and those we live and work with.
Introverts are born with a healthy capacity to listen to their inner world. Indeed this is where they draw strength.
In contrast, extroverts are energised by the external world.
3 Main Differences Between Introverts and Extroverts
Introverts are sometimes misunderstood and undervalued. Unfortunately for introverts, social norms are biased toward the extrovert. Some claim that introverts are self-absorbed, self-centred, reserved or shy. This is incorrect. It is a misunderstanding.
1. Thinking and Talking
Earlier I said I prefer to think before I speak. This is one of the main differences between introverts and extroverts. Introverts need time to form and express an opinion whereas extroverts tend to speak with spontaneity.
Such hesitation is often misinterpreted. At meetings I may have little to say. However, that does not mean I am disinterested or holding back information.
In truth, I am forming opinion, gathering facts or deciding what action to take. I have no desire to say something simply to hear my own voice.
Extroverts should learn that the introvert often needs time to form and express opinion.
2. Modest and Unnoticed
What’s more, when introverts appear reluctant to speak the extrovert thinks they have nothing to contribute. The introvert is often overlooked. And when we say something — which isn’t always easy because we dislike interrupting — it is often presented in a subtle and elegant way that is too frequently overlooked.
Believe me, it is most frustrating to present an idea and be ignored and to later hear the same thing from someone else well received.
Why does this happen? Perhaps the extrovert thinks the introvert is self-absorbed? Or they are disinterested? In truth, we are thinking about what people are saying. We are forming opinion and exercising our minds on the problem or discussion taking place.
You may think the introvert is a million miles away when they could very well have solved a problem for you. If only you’d ask!
Extroverts should learn to ask what people are thinking and feeling.
3. Reaction and Reflection
Extroverts tend to react to situations and want to get on and do something. Their focus is on action: “It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we do something!” Introverts attempt to put the brakes on things.
Introverts want to slow things down and think about the consequences of our actions. Introverts like to reflect on what they are doing. Introverts like to plan and think about the future.
Understanding an introvert is different to an extrovert is important. It’s about your personal growth as a leader and seeing things from another perspective.
These are the things extroverts should know about introverts:
- we are inclined not to speak up at meetings,
- we don’t blow our own horn, and
- We work at a slower pace.
Whether introvert or extrovert we have much to offer in the workplace and in personal relationships. Indeed we should celebrate our differences — our unique talents — and take advantage of them.
So recognise the differences between introvert and extrovert and help everyone get along and do something brilliant together.
Creative Commons image courtesy Eleanna.