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What Makes The Differences Between Introverts And Extroverts?

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What Makes The Differences Between Introverts And Extroverts?

A conversation on Friday night.

‘Let’s head to the bars downtown. I heard there will be a massive party. It’s gonna be real fun!’

Nah, I’ve got 300 pages to catch this weekend.’

‘Come on, don’t be so discouraging. Two hours, okay?’

‘Um.. I would rather-‘

‘Are you really that shy?

‘I just prefer to be alone. It’s tiring outside.’

Typical introvert and extrovert traits, right?

Introverts are shy and always want to be alone. Extroverts are outgoing.

This is a major misconception of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts think that introverts never come out of their room; while in introverts’ mind, extroverts always stay way out of their room. This is a pure misunderstanding between the two.

What if it is because they have to?

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We’ve made it wrong – we’re all hybrids

The origins of the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ can be traced back to as early as 1920s, when a Swiss psychologist Carl Jung coined the two terms to contrast between two distinct personality types.

In fact, introversion and extroversion are never two mutually exclusive qualities. More precisely, they are on the two opposite ends of a spectrum. Meanwhile, everyone of us falls on somewhere between the two extremes, only differing by the extent we are more introvert-like or extrovert-like. As Carl Jung put it,

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.

    ▲ No one is a pure introvert or extrovert.

    We have no choice. Our brains are the bosses.

    Introverts and extroverts may behave very differently in people’s eyes. One may think it is just their preference to work like this. Yet, it is actually their brains that makes such a difference. They have no choice but to cope with it.

    How are their brains different?

    Extroverts are hungry for stimuli, while introverts have much in store

    Extroverts appear sociable and always try to be the centre of attention. This is in fact due to their comparatively weaker sensitivity to stimuli.

    That’s why they have to proactively seek outer stimuli in order to reach a functional equilibrium for their minds.

    Hans Eysenck, a German psychologist, defines extroverts by analyzing their baseline arousal. The result reveals extroverts have a lower baseline arousal. Consequently, they need to be engaged in more thrilling activities to gain satisfaction while introverts, with a higher baseline arousal, are more easily satisfied.

    By contrast, introverts are much more sensitive to stimuli. So they opt to escape from stimuli to avoid being overwhelmed. In fact, it is difficult for them to perform normally if they are constantly under the influence of stimuli.

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    When it comes to recharging, introverts and extroverts seek entirely different ways as expected. Introverts gain energy by being alone while extroverts recharge themselves through social interaction.

    Introverts take the long way, while extroverts take the shortcut

    Ever wondered why extroverts think and make decisions much more quickly than introverts?

    First, it’s because the prefrontal cortex in the brains of introverts is much thicker than that of extroverts. Prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for deep thinking and planning. That’s why introverts are more fond of spending more time on rumination whenever they need to make decisions or come across some problems.

      ▲ Introverts’ brains are like a complex transport system, while extroverts’ brains are like a straightforward highway.

      Second, when it comes to processing information, introverts take a longer, more complicated pathway. The route passes along areas associated with memory, planning and problem-solving.

      By contrast, extroverts take a much shorter path. The shortcut mainly runs through areas responsible for sensory processing.

      Due to the different pathways they choose, extroverts tend to speak and act quickly, while introverts need more time to come up with a response.

      Introverts and extroverts react differently to human faces

      Aside from the structural difference of the brain, introverts and extroverts respond differently to human faces. When given a picture of human face and a picture of the wild nature, extroverts reach more vigorously to the human face one. Introverts, on the other hand, respond fairly the same to both pictures.

      Of course it doesn’t mean introverts don’t even feel a thing from any interaction. They just feel less strongly. They don’t feel as excited and require comparatively less social interaction to gain satisfaction. They still need social life.

      Personality stereotypes are as terrible as gender stereotypes…

      Stereotypes of introverts and extroverts are deep-rooted in everyone’s minds. Introverts are connected with ‘shy’ and ‘preference to be alone’ while extroverts are associated with ‘outgoing’ and ‘good at talking’.

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      It is not true.

      Introverts in reality may even be a better public speaker for their deep and thorough thinking. Extroverts who have diverse interest in different topics are better at coping with small talk.

      Introverts do not prefer loneliness. They simply avoid being overwhelmed by stimuli due to their high sensitivity to stimuli. Hence, they are in favor of close conversation with a small group of people. By contrast, extroverts are in need of external stimuli so they prefer having fun with a large of people.

      Can’t relate yourself to the two camps? Here’s the third one for you

      Till now, we have been focusing on people on the two sides of the “introvert-extrovert” continuum. What about those in the middle?

      Ambiverts, that’s how we call them.

      Ask yourself these questions:

      1. Do you prefer time alone while also love people?

      2. Do certain situations make you feel outgoing while some reserved?

      3. Do you struggle with categorizing yourself as an introvert or extrovert?

      If your answer is yes to these questions. You are probably an ambivert.

      Ambiverts are those who possess traits from both introverts and extroverts. They exhibit qualities of both extremes in different situations.

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      For example, you may be uncomfortable in a night club full of people but you feel energized being around your classmates at school. You feel awkward with a bunch of strangers while you are extroverted with your friends.

      Most people are actually ambiverts. Like the statement at the beginning, introvert and extrovert are just two extremes.

      Find the common language. After all, we’re not from two different planets.

      Introverts and extroverts don’t seem to go along with each other.

      Not true.

      Recognizing and accepting the difference between the two can create the best environment for co-existence.

      Advice for introverts:

      For introverts, you need to put your treasured ones slightly in front of your work. It may sound uncomfortable but the main point is to look for a comfortable balance between work and social life. Be aware not completely drop out of your social circle.

      Socializing with others is necessary. You understand you have limited energy to spare on so spend them wisely. Divide it equally for your work and social circle.

      Also, it is important to leave yourself some space to recharge. Never fully devote all the time on the others. Otherwise you will soon be exhausted mentally and physically. Give yourself at least a day per week to recharge.

      Striking for a balance is the main point.

      Advice for extroverts:

      Extrovert, on the other hand, you need to understand the difference. Don’t force introverts out of their comfort zone. Instead, find out when your introverted friends are okay to hang out. Forcing them out when they don’t want to only ends disastrously. None will be pleased in the end. You can communicate your schedule with them and look for the best possible plan to satisfy both sides.

      If, unfortunately, your friends are mostly introverted and you still feel dissatisfied after attempts to compromise, try to expand your social circles then. Join clubs, learn some new skills. Voluntary work would do the job too.

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      Remember there is nothing bad to be either an introvert, extrovert or ambivert. The most important point is to understand yourself. Embrace who you are. Forcing yourself to become another person is a big no-no. Only by acknowledging and accepting the difference can we all live in a harmonious world.

      Featured photo credit: Personality Central via personality-central.com

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      Jeffrey Lau

      Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

      Warming up

      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

      Stay hydrated

      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

      Meditate

      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

      2. Focus on your goal

      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

      3. Convert negativity to positivity

      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

      4. Understand your content

      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

      5. Practice makes perfect

      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

      6. Be authentic

      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

      7. Post speech evaluation

      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

      Improve your next speech

      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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      • How did I do?
      • Are there any areas for improvement?
      • Did I sound or look stressed?
      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
      • Was I saying “um” too often?
      • How was the flow of the speech?

      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

      Reference

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