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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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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