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All Things About Introverts: The Seemingly Mysterious Personality That Often Gets Misunderstood!
Introverts – shy and withdrawn, mysterious people that don’t particularly need human interaction, or do they? With all of the buzz about introverts, extroverts and ambiverts going on lately, are we sure we are not jumping to conclusions regarding someone’s personality, and more importantly, how much of the information we have is accurate and not leading to generalizing and misconceptions?Introverts – shy and withdrawn, mysterious people that don’t particularly need human interaction, or do they? With all of the buzz about introverts, extroverts and ambiverts going on lately, are we sure we are not jumping to conclusions regarding someone’s personality, and more importantly, how much of the information we have is accurate and not leading to generalizing and misconceptions?
There’s no doubt that extroverts are easy to spot and recognize since they are outgoing and tend to be the center of the attention. On the other hand,introverts tend to keep everything to themselves and don’t talk too much. They tend to be misunderstood as shy, not friendly and socially disconnected.
Finally, ambiverts are perceived as being in the middle with having some of the traits that belong to introverted, and some of the extroverted personality with neither personality being the dominant one.
Carl Jung defined introversion 1 and introverted people as being completely opposite from extroversion and extroverts. He explained that while extroverts are more prone to focusing their energy outwards, introverted people are more focused on their inner life, their subjective thoughts and feelings. With no single definitive definition of introversion being constructed to this point, it is no wonder that we are prone to misconceptions and generalizing.
However, there are a great number of works and research that have managed to analyze the introverted personality type and draw insightful conclusions.
Since they are more focused inwardly, introverts enjoy alone time. They thrive and find inspiration from taking the time for their favorite hobby. In those moments best of their ideas are born. As opposed to popular belief, introverts are a beneficial part of the team at work. Even though they would restrain from giving their opinion, and talk only when asked, their ability to think more independently provides valuable different perspective on the matter being discussed.
As far as daily social interactions are concerned, introverted people would most often choose not to get involved in discussions that involve people who show signs of anger. According to the research 2 by psychologist Marta Ponari and collaborators of University College London, this trait of introverts may come as a result of their sensitivity to potentially negative evaluations.
Most often introverts are wrongly judged as people who don’t enjoy social interactions that much. People can sometimes perceive them as rude or uninterested. This misconception comes from the introverts’ tendency to avoid being evaluated by others, so they would always choose not to engage in small talk with strangers, or people they don’t feel truly close with.
It is also a common misconception that introverts aren’t able to withstand leader positions. Actually, introverts have the potential of being great leaders and drawing the most potential out of the team, given that the team is comprised of people who don’t need extra stimulus to perform well. 3
With the more thorough research done on introversion, it has become clear that introversion is a far more complex term that has four subcategories. As the psychologist and academic Jonathan Cheek’s research done on 500 adults suggests, there are four types of introverts. Cheek has developed the STAR model 4 in order to explain the four main types of introverts: Social, Thinking, Anxious and Restrained.
Social introverts tend to rely more on their alone time for regaining energy. As Cheek explains “The idea that introverts need to alternate sociality and their recharging time, that’s very important in social introversion”.
People who don’t necessarily shy away from social interactions, but tend to be more introspective and inward oriented are described as thinking introverts.
Most anxious introverts get described as shy, due to their anxiety when around other people. Anxious introverts tend to feel anxious about how they will be perceived by others and, unlike social introverts, the anxiety doesn’t stop when they are alone. Even though they like to be in social situations, they tend to over-analyze their words and behavior and worry about how they will be interpreted by their peers.
Inhibited, reserved, or restrained introverts most often think before taking any actions and lack spontaneity. They will most certainly decline a last-minute call to a party, because they like to make plans and sudden events make them uncomfortable.
While Carl Jung was the first to coin the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” and provided theory explaining the main differences between the two types, later research showed the differences in the brain structure of the two types of personalities as well as the different ways in which they react to stimulations and recharge their energy.
Namely, extroverts possess lower levels of arousal, therefore they are always on the lookout for new exciting adventure, while introverts, possessing higher levels of arousal, will look for activities and situations that require lower levels of arousal. 5
Additionally, extroverts are much more adventurous than introverts due to the difference in their brain structure. The pathway of stimuli of extroverts is shorter than the pathway of introverts, therefore the stimulation process of extroverts is shorter, making them “hungry” for more excitement.
Moreover, introverts would always choose a more relaxing activity for recharging, while extroverts are more likely to choose rewards through excitement. This has to do with the fact that brain of extroverts feeds on dopamine, making them feel pleasant only through challenges and excitement, while introverts’ brain prefers acetylcholine, which creates pleasure through introspection and more self-focused activities.
With introverts getting more positive press, it is refreshing to see the negative stigma surrounding them being erased. For so long, it seems our society has been praising extroverts as go-getters and great leaders and achievers, while introverts were considered awkward and underachieving.
Although at first sight introverts may seem like their performance career-wise may seem poor, their natural abilities to listen, stay focused and calm, provide them with great benefits and make them perfectly able to achieve great success.
If we take a look at the lives and careers of some of the most successful introverts in a number of different areas, we will notice that introversion doesn’t in any way prevent people from being great at what they do. Some of the most famous and successful introverts of our time include
Bill Gates 6
Steven Spielberg 7
Sir Isaac Newton 8
Mark Zuckerberg 9
JK Rowling 10
Meryl Streep 11
Introverts: Core strengths and weaknesses
Focused and devoted in every situation, thoughtful to others, insightful and visionary at work, those are some of the common denominators for people with introverted personality type. These are, at the same time, their greatest strengths that make them irreplaceable and beneficial workers, partners, friends, parents…
On the other hand, being introverted usually means being perceived as slightly snobbish, or even rude to others. Also, the more inner focused nature of introverts makes them less likely to get noticed, make more friends or business contacts.
There are plenty of great positions for introverts to thrive in depending on their natural abilities, education and preferences. As mentioned before, not all introverts are the same, therefore not every person with introverted personality will be happy in the same work position. However, certain occupations have been shown to better suit introverts as they require some of the natural strengths that introverts possess.
According to the four types of introverts, there is a list of potential jobs that would perfectly suit each type’s needs.
Ideal jobs for social introvert
- Database administrator
- Private chef
- Electrical or electronic engineering technician
- Commercial diver
- Animal trainer
- Aerospace engineer
- Industrial engineer
- Computer programmer
- Web developer
- Video game artist
- Fashion designer
- Interior designer
- Graphic designer
Ideal jobs for anxious introvert
- Commercial pilot
- Technical writer
- Medical lab technician or technologist
- Aircraft mechanic
- Audio engineering technician
Ideal jobs for restrained introvert
- Biochemist or biophysicist
- Management analyst
- Market research analyst or marketing specialist
- Anthropologist or archaeologist
- Creative or non-fiction writer or author
- Wildlife biologist
- Career or education counselor
- Mental health counselor
Introverts can face many challenges, especially at work and in social situations. Since most introverts won’t speak first at meetings, or sound convincing on job interviews, their careers can suffer as those around them don’t always see their true potential.
There is a way for introverts to how their greatest skills at work while still staying true to themselves. At meetings, they can show their great ability to focus and show their insightful and creative side, and contribute to new ideas.
They can start by asking questions to get the pressure off, and then follow the impulse and speak on the idea. Furthermore, they don’t need to become social butterflies all of a sudden, yet they can use their natural abilities to create meaningful relationships, and use it to make a few genuine connections or allies at work that would help them shine. When it comes to nailing job interviews, introverts can be truly successful if they rely on their natural abilities to prepare well, think before they speak and listen to the person they are talking to.
Since introverts prefer one-on-one conversations to group meetings, they can use their ability to connect in these situations. Moreover, as introverts don’t enjoy talking about themselves, they can show their skills in a manner they are more comfortable with – they can imagine it as sharing instead of bragging.
Here are some guidelines on how to understand and respect your introverted friend, partner, or a kid.
Introverts possess some of the best qualities that make true and genuine friends. In order to keep them around, make sure not to pressure them to hang out in crowded places, as they prefer more intimate atmosphere. Also, give them time to be by themselves to recharge, and time to think before making decisions. Keep surprise adventures at a minimum.
Introverts are great partners as they can provide genuine love, support and thoughtfulness to their love interest. Since they don’t act before they think things through, their partners can be assured that they are the only center of their attention. If you are in love with an introvert, make sure to respect their need for private time, don’t interrupt them, and don’t force them to make quick decisions about your lives together.
If you are raising and introverted child, again, make sure to respect their ways of doing things. Don’t pressure them into making a lot of new friends, having a few, genuine friends is what introverts prefer. Help them cultivate their own skills and talents instead of pressuring them to take part in activities they don’t enjoy. Be aware that they won’t always ask for help, so make sure to be observant and present in order to offer your assistance when needed.
Books you can read if you want to get in-depth knowledge of introvert
If you are interested in learning more about introverts, here are some great reading suggestions.
“The book that started the Quiet Revolution” is an ultimate guide on what it means to be introvert, how to care for one, and how introverts help the world go round, all filled with real life stories.
The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D.
As the title says, The Introvert Advantage helps introverts overcome their weaknesses, realize their strengths in order to achieve success in every aspect of their lives. The book also debunks most common myths about introverts and provides better understanding of introverted personality type.
The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling
Another great piece of writing that empowers introverts to stay true to their nature and realize their unique potential.
Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe Ph.D.
In this truly powerful book, Helgoe inspires introverts to turn their natural strengths into their unique supremacy and show their invaluable geniuses to the world.
The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms by Beth L. Buelow
Insightful and actionable tips on how to become a super successful introvert entrepreneur without getting too overwhelmed by extroverted ways of doing business.
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