Say you’re organizing a getaway trip. Erica, the extrovert, suggests a wild Vegas weekend extravaganza; Irene, the introvert, wants to stay in a cabin in the mountains; while Amber, the ambivert, prefers a staycation.
Isn’t it frustrating? Your friends are clearly of different personalities, and there’s no one single solution that can accommodate to everyone’s needs.
But truthfully, it boils down to the age-old “extrovert vs. introvert” showdown.
So what’s the difference between an extrovert and an introvert?
Before I get into any definitions, the most important thing you need to know is introversion and extroversion are only a spectrum, and most of us fall along this continuum, which means no one is strictly one way or the other. Famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung once said,
There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.
▲ An extroversion-introversion continuum.
To differentiate an extrovert and an introvert, the biggest difference is on how they recharge themselves.
- Extroverts (or those with extroverted tendencies) gain energy by placing themselves in social situations. They don’t mind being under the spotlight, or the center of attention. However, spending too much alone time drains them mentally.
- On the other hand, introverts recharge by spending time alone. After a long period of time in crowded social situations, they need a desperate break to regain their energy back.
- The third personality, surprisingly constitutes most of the population, is an ambivert. Ambiverts recharge and regain their energy through a mixture of social interaction and alone time.
Does it sound a bit too vague? Let’s dig a little bit deeper into each personality type.
1. Extroverts: the ones who talk the most
- People and social situations excite and energize them.
- They usually initiate and engage in conversations.
- They can talk about anything with anyone.
- They don’t mind others paying full attention to them.
- Meeting new people doesn’t faze them.
2. Introverts: the ones who prefer thinking over speaking
- Alone time is the way to recharge.
- They use their eyes and ears more than their mouths.
- They don’t like small talks.
- They prefer standing away from the spotlight.
- It is quite uncomfortable to meet new friends.
3. Ambiverts: the ones who are a mix of extroverted and introverted tendencies
- They often wonder whether they need alone time or external stimulation.
- They could be quiet during the entire conversation, but also share what they are passionate about.
- Sometimes, they find small talks insincere.
- If in the right context, they don’t mind attention, but often they prefer standing at the sidelines.
- They are fine with talking to new people, but it’s better to do it with their friends.
Researchers believe our tendencies are related to our genes.
Psychologist Hans Eysenck discovered that extroverts and introverts have different levels of arousal, which is “the extent to which our minds and bodies are alert and responsive to stimulation”.
Comparatively, people with extroverted tendencies have lower rate of arousal, which explains why they usually look for stimulations and excitements from their surroundings and other external matters. And introverts are the opposite case.
Why does it matter though? I already know who I am.
Sure, you might have already done personality tests a bajillion times, and probably know a thing or two, but for some of us, we still don’t know how to embrace our true selves.
Extroverts are often told to stop being obnoxious, introverts are perceived as anti-social, while ambiverts think they have a split personality. The truth of the matter is, learning about who you are allows you to understand yourself better.
Also, this is a chance to get to know other personality types, and learn to interact with others, which can greatly improve your social and romantic lives.
We are all unique in our own ways, learn to embrace ourselves.
There isn’t any preferred personality, and it’s more important to accept everyone for who they are.
Introverts, socialize in small doses and retreat when needed.
You are often mistaken as a shy person who lacks interpersonal communication skills. Don’t pressure yourself to be more extroverted. As you think deeply, express your thoughts eloquently, you are developing authentic and meaningful relationships.
At the same time, don’t criticize extroverts for being obnoxious or annoying, they are simply expressing their emotions to you. They might be constantly reaching out to you, you should protect your alone time to not over-strain yourself mentally.
Extroverts, on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong to speak up.
Others probably think you hog the limelight all the time because you are insecure about yourself, but don’t let them stop you from sharing your thoughts and opinions.
Also, you like cheer people on, but keep this in mind — introverts need their space, so find the right timing to be the comforter, or else your empathy will backfire.
Ambiverts, you are not abnormal.
Are you ever confused of whether you are an extrovert or introvert? Believe it or not, the majority of us are ambiverts. With traits from both sides of the spectrum, you are more flexible than others, because you are equally comfortable being alone and with people.
You are also more emotionally stable, as you find a balance in being sensitive, while not being influenced easily. The stability also makes you more intuitive — you know when to speak up and when to shut up.
It doesn’t matter where you stand in the extroversion-introversion continuum, just remember, you are special and it’s time to embrace your true self!
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