Once again, we come back to the topic of introversion versus extroversion, which has been popularized by author Susan Cain in her book: Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In her work, Cain conducts a large amount of qualitative research, mostly in interview form, of successful people who consider themselves introverts. Combine this with growing thought chains on where people draw their energy (as in the E versus I section of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), and there is more to know about introverts than ever before. For that reason, we’ve compiled some the findings to help you understand us introverts.
1. We don’t dislike people — we dislike group-think.
The first thing to know about introverts is that we actually love people. Small group or one-to-one conversations with an introvert will make this clear very quickly. We truly do enjoy the company of others. The difference is that we have to be in the proper circumstances to appreciate each person’s uniqueness, and when people get into groups they act differently and tend to purposefully blend together in group-think. That’s where introverts struggle.
2. We focus on single-person tasks easily, and aren’t doing it to hide from people.
Introverts typically have very strong hobbies, and what separates them from hobbied extroverts is that we do not give any thought to others before we engage in the hobby. We actually just like reading, painting, writing, video games, computer coding, HAM radios, Magic the Gathering, or whatever else. The fact that other people might like our hobby too never occurs to us.
3. We think about mundane entertainment much more than others.
If you ever ask an introvert about their favorite movie, their eyes are likely to light up. We adore certain movies, while commonly thinking that most of pop culture is generally terrible. For example, I hardly ever go to see new movies in theaters, but if you ask me to explain the philosophy of determinism via The Matrix, the historical accuracy of Gangs of New York, or any single line in Fight Club, you should buckle in, because I’ll be talking for way too long.
4. We often misunderstand body language.
For years, and even into present, I have not understood other people’s body language. For me, this manifested most obviously with girls–a hand on my bicep never registered as a suggestive gesture; if the girl never said anything about enjoying my company, I would always miss the signal. When talking to introverts, be sure to be direct, because, for us, the value is often in words and not other signals.
5. We question authority.
Introverts, even when sitting compliantly in the back of class or in a meeting, are always thinking rationally through problems,and, so, when a problem is solved through emotion, we love to pick through the solution logically, often missing the greater good of the group in the process.
6. We have to rationalize shopping in stores, or else we hate it.
Some people love the arrangements of clothes or the deals to be had in stores, but introverts have to find a way to think about the benefits of actually going to a store for “deals.” Most stores are built to purposefully overwhelm, so introverts would rather shop for everything from cars to underwear on the web.
7. We are the ones who engage in single-player sports.
Tennis, rowing, fishing, biking, golf, and especially competitive running are often populated by introverts. When we don’t have to worry about others, our minds can focus for very long times, so it’s natural that we use that focus to excel in sports where no other people can break our concentration.
8. We mechanize our day.
People are creatures of habit, but introverts even more so. For me, several days a week go exactly the same, down to the same time showering and the same lunch eaten. This simply creates less tangible obstacles to thinking more, so we fall into routines easily.
9. We are certainly fine being the center of attention — but not for too long.
At parties, I find myself the center of attention often, and I love it, and then, all at once, I don’t. I legitimately have a breaking point, past which I cannot stand being the center of attention, and I can tell when I’m going to reach it, and I adjust accordingly. Similarly, famous actors such as Russell Crowe and Jim Carey — larger than life, charismatic figures — are the same way. They put on the face on camera, but, once they’re done, do not bother them. They can’t stand it.
10. We know ourselves better than others.
As I said above, I know exactly when my “people overload point” is coming, and I know how to deal with that. Further, introverts often spend lots of time in their heads, and therefore have a strong sense of self and the needs that come with that. Extroverts wouldn’t dare think about themselves so much.
11. We are concerned with ideals and like to work to create them.
Introverts love helping people, not because we love people, but because they love the idea of compassion and sympathy. We love when the court system works properly, because we love the idea of justice. We love cheesy movies, not because we like poor dialogue or hastily contrived plots, but because we love the idea of true love. There’s a difference between enjoying the people and enjoying the idea the people represent, and introverts love the latter.
12. We think more than EXTROVERTS could ever dream of.
Introverts cannot turn of their brains. It doesn’t work like that. Still, could anyone who has read this far imagine an extrovert writing something similar. Further, how many of you still reading considers themselves an extrovert? Not many? That’s what I thought.
Featured photo credit: I Live Inside My Head/Jacqueline Murray via flickr.com