What comes to mind when you hear the word "introvert"? Quiet, shy, and loner might be a few words that pop into your head immediately. In reality, these words do not actually describe introversion at all. We've come to use these terms as synonyms, even though they don't actually have the same meaning, because they are often correlated.
The difference between introversion and extroversion is based more on how we direct our thoughts and feelings (inward vs. outward, respectively) than on how shy or confident someone is in a social setting. While the two traits often intersect, it's important to note the distinction. Here are a few questions that demonstrate the dichotomy between a natural extrovert and a natural introvert. Where do you fall?
- After a full day at work or school, you come home to your family/roommate/significant other. Do you want to talk through your day or sit in peace and quiet to reflect?
- Friday night rolls around and you've had a long week at work/school. Do you want to go out and socialize or stay in and have a quiet night with just the company of your TV?
- You are in class or a meeting and your teacher or manager asks a question. Does your hand shoot up before you've thought through an answer or do you sit and contemplate until it's too late to even raise your hand?
- Do you prefer to know a little about a lot of subjects or a lot about a few subjects?
- Do you like to socialize in large groups or smaller groups?
If you relate more to the first half of each question, you are likely an extrovert. If the second half resonated more with you (me: *raises my hand after thinking carefully about it*), you are likely an introvert. Of course, like all personality types, you will fall somewhere between the two. Some people, usually referred to as ambiverts, fall pretty close to the middle. Personally, I am a very strong introvert, landing pretty much as far on the introverted side of the spectrum as you can be.
What I really love about studying personality types is that it gives me the ability to, first, understand why people do what they do (especially if they are different from me) and second, treat others according to their natural tendencies. For example, I can lend an ear to an extroverted friend who needs to talk through their day. The more I study, the more I appreciate the need for different kinds of people in the world and in my life. Shoutout to all my extroverted friends and family who have taken over small talk with waiters and waitresses at restaurants. You probably do not realize how much you've done for the introverts in your life.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? What distinctions do you see between introverts and extroverts?