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5 Common Mistakes People Make About Introverts

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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.

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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 November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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