If your personality has strong elements of introversion you may already have known this has been National Introverts’ Week. Being an introvert used to be something that introverts have been in the closets about. However, during the past few years, we introverts have flung open those closet doors.
The labels “introvert” and “extrovert” have been co-opted from Carl Jung by pop psychology and armchair psychologists. There are plenty of pop psychology articles on the Internet with varying levels of accuracy. I’m guessing that most of those articles are ignored by extroverts but are written and read by introverts.
An important thing to remember is to not conflate introversion with shyness. Although many introverts are also shy, many of us are not shy at all. I used to think the behaviors were the same until I learned how not to be shy. When the shyness went away, the introversion remained. I enjoy mixing with people at parties, but I’m ready to go home after a couple of hours in order to decompress and recharge. My extroverted friends attend parties in order to recharge because they feel drained if they stay home alone too long.
While many of my friends might enjoy a lifetime filled with parties, introverts like me would rather indulge in reading, studying, listening to music, or spending quiet time out in nature. An occasional party might be thrown in simply for a short change of pace.
Maybe you remember a scenario like this from your elementary school days: The teacher asked for a project volunteer or asked a simple question and immediately several fellow pupils’ hands went up. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind volunteering or you knew the answer, but you didn’t want to make a spectacle out of yourself. If the teacher ignored the kids with their hands raised and chose you, you felt a bit squeamish. Although a small part of you wanted to participate, you actually wished you could become invisible, instead.
If your workplace has frequent staff meetings you might see the parallels with them and the classroom discussions of your childhood. This time, it’s the boss asking for participation, with the outgoing workers eagerly offering their opinions and ideas. The smart boss, like the smart teacher, won’t ignore the introvert, but will also, specifically ask for her or his input.
Likewise, an introverted supervisor works most effectively when overseeing a team of self-starters. They are often the most observant bosses who are able to draw out the most potential from the company’s workforce. They guide, rather than direct. This is why many successful companies balance extroverted supervisors with introverted supervisors.
An invert’s best thinking occurs when he’s by himself. His best creativity happens when he’s able to quietly reflect and analyze a project or problem. Even though introverts can work well in team situations, their best work most often happens when they’re working alone.
Like most human traits, extroversion and introversion occur on a sliding scale. If a person has more of the qualities of introversion than those of extroversion, she or he is more likely to believe they are introverts. After all, Carl Jung said, “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”
Many extroverts love spending time alone in the outdoors, observing and enjoying the wonders of nature. They just don’t love doing so as much as introverts do. Extroverts are more likely to be involved in outdoor team sports while introverts are more likely to be creating paintings or photographs of the outdoors.
Extroverts can get along with introverts better if they understand the difference between shyness and introversion. A shy person sees a group of people interacting with each other, wants to join them, but is unsure about approaching them. On the other hand, an introvert is perfectly happy to simply observe the group on his own.