Do you know the difference between introverts & extroverts?? Here’s a clue: it doesn’t have to do with how “shy” or “outgoing” a person is.
If you look it up, you’ll see that the Webster’s Dictionary definition says that introverts are “shy and reticent.” But the psychologist, Carl Jung, popularized the personality types in terms of energy sources. Put super simply, introverts recharge through alone time, and extroverts recharge by spending time with others!
There are plenty of factors that go into a person’s personality, and bespectacled men could debate for years whether nature or nurture has a stronger influence (according to my senior year psych prof it’s about 50/50). But, acknowledging our differences is pointless if we’re not honoring the specific needs that each personality type has.
During my tumultuous time in business school, my favorite assignments were always the ones related to taking, analyzing, and discussing personality tests. The purpose of those assignments was to learn about how to best manage and work with varying personality types, but I think we need to be more cognizant of the differences in everyday life too.
Full transparency, I am an introvert so I’m a bit biased in my assessment of the two personality factors, but I have plenty of extroverts in my life that I sourced some info from as well! Like I said before, even the dictionary definition of introvert leans into the stereotypes we often think of. This seems to happen a lot with psychology terms; once they hit the mainstream vocabulary the meaning can be stretched or diluted (I’m looking at you t!kt0k trauma “specialists”). As a disclaimer, I’m not a psychologist myself, though I always try to be careful when sharing more technical information. The last thing I want to do is spread misinformation or pose as someone with more credentials!
All humans need human connection, and all humans need alone time. Extroverts and introverts just thrive off of a little more of each, respectively. It’s easy to put people into boxes and make assumptions about their personalities. Here are some misconceptions about each:
Misconceptions about introverts:
- They’re shut-ins or shy
- When they cancel plans it’s because they don’t like you/don’t value time with you
- If they get quiet or lower energy, it means they’re mad at you
- They have to be completely alone to recharge (sometimes all you need is a little one on one time or a smaller group of close friends).
Misconceptions about extroverts:
- They don’t need and value quiet and alone time
- They can’t be anxious/have anxiety
- They have more surface level social lives
- They can’t be quiet or more reserved
- Their social batteries are never depleted
So, how can you strengthen your friendship with someone who has the opposite personality trait?
- Treat it like gift giving. Don’t give a gift that you would like. Give them something they would like. Just because you need alone time to be your fully-functional self doesn’t mean all your friends do too. Obviously abide by your boundaries, but put effort into the friendship in a way that your friend will appreciate it.
- Talking about your social life preferences in terms of energy sources can take away some of the stress and worry about personally offending someone. E.g. “Ooh thanks for inviting me! I need to recharge tonight though, so I can’t make it.”
- If you really want to hang out with a friend of yours who’s an introvert but you only invite them to/see them in big group settings, suggest a lower-key/smaller group or hanging out one on one.
- On the flipside, if you’re introverted and want to maintain friendships within a group, focus on the individual friendships so you feel less drained in bigger social settings.
What is something you wish people knew about being an extrovert or introvert? And how do you care for your friendships with the other-verts?!