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5 Common Mistakes People Make About Introverts

5 Common Mistakes People Make About Introverts

Estimates put nearly half the world’s population as introverts, yet this personality type is still greatly misunderstood, both by extroverts and fellow introverts.

Introversion and extroversion are personality types that are defined by how people get their energy and process the world. While both types have their own complexities, the basic difference is that extroverts recharge by being around people and generally process the world externally (e.g. being part of the conversation and talking while or before they think), while introverts recharge by spending time alone and generally process the world internally (e.g. being more of an observer and thinking before they speak).

Here are five common mistakes that people make about introverts, and the truth behind them:

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Introverts are shy

The idea that introversion and shyness is the same thing is one of the most common introvert-related myths. As I mentioned above, introversion is a personality type that is defined by how people manage their energy. Shyness is born out of social anxiety, insecurity and fears. So while introverts and people who experience shyness might appear very similar on the surface, introverts are more likely to spend time alone because it leaves them feeling refreshed and energetic, while people who experience shyness are more likely to spend time alone because they feel fear around social interactions.

Shyness and introversion can go hand in hand—especially as we live in a society that is biased towards extroversion and perceived pressure to be outgoing and bubbly can be anxiety-provoking in itself. However, they are not the same thing, nor is one a result of the other.

An introvert doesn’t enjoy company

A second common introvert-related myth is that introverts don’t enjoy the company of other people. It’s true that you’re more likely to find an introvert at home with a good book than schmoozing a bunch of people they don’t know at a busy party, but introverts—just like everyone—thrive on human connection.

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While extroverts tend to gravitate towards larger groups, introverts flourish in small groups and within one-to-one interactions. They tend to feel drained by small talk but love having deep, thought-provoking conversations about the things that really matter to them.

An introvert can certainly be a people person—they just need to be mindful of their energy and take time to recharge after social interactions.

Introverts are unfriendly

To begin with, introverts can seem reserved, haughty, and distant, but it’s probably not personal—the majority of introverts will become warmer the more you get to know them. I remember someone once telling me that the first time we had met they thought I didn’t like them—I did, I just didn’t know them very well at the time so they saw a more reserved version of me than my closest friends might.

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In general, introverts tend to have a few close friends that see a very different side of them than people they’re meeting for the first time. Most introverts have a lot more going on underneath the surface than first meets the eye. Once you’ve established a mutual connection and trust, you’ll start to experience this for yourself.

Introverts hate public speaking

Contrary to popular belief, many successful public speakers and performers are introverts. As I mentioned above, introverts don’t usually reveal much about themselves to people they don’t know or acquaintances, however public speaking or performing requires an element of play-acting and giving a performance. For many introverts, that’s what public speaking is and, although they will need time to recharge afterwards, being introverted certainly doesn’t preclude anyone from taking the mic.

The idea of standing up in front of a room of people and sharing ideas can be terrifying for anyone—not just introverts—but public speaking is a skill and, like any skill, we can practice. Susan Cain shares some useful tips for introverts who are ready to jump into the public speaking arena (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/quiet-the-power-introverts/201107/10-public-speaking-tips-introverts) and points out that with the right preparation and technique, introverts can bring the house down.

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Introverts can’t be entrepreneurs

This was a belief I held for a long time—to my detriment. When people think of running business, they think of things like networking events and naturally assume that introverts are going to be out of their element. As you’ve probably guessed by now, however, this isn’t the case!

Introverts’ thoughtful, observatory natures mean they can make excellent entrepreneurs; they’re good at watching and analyzing a problem before presenting a solution. Equally, while the average introvert might find traditional networking, marketing and promotion draining, social media and the explosion of online businesses now mean that anyone can set up a business from behind their computer screen—and run it in a way that aligns with their personality preferences. While some introverts might balk at the idea of attending in-person networking events, their businesses flourish through blogs, social media, written interviews, and other introvert-friendly activities.

Labels like introvert and extrovert can be useful, as long as we make sure we’re not pigeonholing people based on our misconceptions of what those labels mean. Whether you identify as being introverted or extroverted, remember that there’s nothing you can’t do because of your personality type. Listen to the story you’re telling yourself and decide how you want it to end.

Featured photo credit: eleannab via flickr.com

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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