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What Makes The Differences Between Introverts And Extroverts?

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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      Published on May 18, 2021

      How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

      How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

      We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

      The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

      Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

      Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

      Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

      There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

      Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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      Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

      We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

      Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

      A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

      The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

      Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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      Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

      Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

      Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

      While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

      Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

      These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

      Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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      Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

      Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

      Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

      Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

      Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

      Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

      As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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      This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

      Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

      Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

      These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

      Actions Speak Louder Than Words

      Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

      Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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      Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

      More Tips Improving Listening Skills

      Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

      Reference

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