Introverts – and how they can be misunderstood.
Introversion is one of the major personality traits. People who are introverted tend to internalise, or focus more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods, rather than seeking external stimulation.
Shyness and introversion are often confused. Not all introverts are shy. Some have active social lives and love being with friends, but they all need time to be alone to “recharge”. And their circle of friends tend to be smaller, and conversations deeper.
The word “Introvert” has always had negative connotations, and that needs to be changed. Introverts are marginalised and misunderstood because the majority of the population are extrovert.
How often have you heard expressions such as; ‘She’s just shy, but we can cure that.’ or ‘He’s quiet, but give him a couple of drinks, that’ll bring him out of himself.’
It’s a complete anathema for an introvert. The vast majority of introverts don’t want to be brought out of themselves. They’re quite content being inside. That’s where they function, where they’re happiest. And they don’t need fixing or curing. There’s nothing wrong with us.
Introversion can be thought to exist at one end of a line, while extroversion represents the other end. We are all on the line, the loud party animals at one end, and introverts bunched up at the other end, happy to be alone.
If a friend says to me; ‘You have to come to this party at the weekend, AJ, there’ll be dancing and karaoke and lots of fun people. It’ll be great!….’ I’ll go to any length, do anything, not to go.
Another difference between introverts and extroverts, is that introverts will usually think about things before talking. They want to have a full understanding of a concept before they voice an opinion or try to offer an explanation. While extraverts typically learn through trial and error, introverts learn best through observation and quiet contemplation. I’d sooner push needles in my eyes than stand up and talk about a subject that I’m not completely familiar with.
I mention introverts briefly last week in a post about character, and how the quiet thinker has mostly been replaced by the extrovert who can ‘win friends and influence people’. Seems like a retrograde step to me, but then I’m biased.
I recently read ‘Quiet’: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking , by Susan Cain. One section that particularly interested me, discussed how the culture of character had been replaced by the culture of personality starting early last century in the USA.
“America had shifted from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a culture of character to a culture of personality, and opened up a Pandora’s box of personal anxieties of which we would never recover.” – Susan Cain.
Cain explains how Dale Carnegie led the charge toward a culture of personality with his classes in public speaking, shifting the emphasis from what drove a person internally, to what impression they could make externally, in order to influence others. This influence was, of course, usually for financial or political gain, although the difference between the two is hard to define.
If you’re not sure if you are an introvert, take Susan Cain’s simple test. The results might surprise you.
One of the most famous introverts of all space/time, and a quote that really hits the mark with me.
“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a lone traveller and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude.” – Albert Einstein.
What are you experiences as an introvert, or as an extrovert interacting or living with introversion? Leave a comment below.
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Thanks for stopping by, and call in again tomorrow when I’ll be taking a look at J. And I have no idea what it will be about.
Until then, happy reading.