Google estimates that there are 7.674 billion human beings on this planet as of 2019. While introverts make up 25 to 40% of that figure, what is left behind–the extroverts–do not comprehend introverts or what keeps them going. Unfortunately, some people out there cannot tell the differences between an extrovert and an introvert.
Introverts? What Are They?
World-renowned psychologist, psychiatrist and therapist, Carl Jung popularised the concept of introversion and extroversion in the context of personality. So, you can be an introvert or extrovert (or an ambivert). It is widely believed that introverts are quiet (title of Susan Cain’s book), have no backbone and do not know how to have fun. However, it is worth pointing out that even extroverts can exhibit those attributes too.
If you want to tell whether someone is an introvert or extrovert, just observe how much energy that being absorbs and releases. Easy, right?
Introverts have their energy expended when they are surrounded by others, especially in big groups. They long to be alone to recharge themselves, especially after a long day of work and non-stop conversations with other beings. From the introverts’ perspective, sleep and alone time are equally important. Extroverts, on the other hand, are complete opposites of introverts. When no one else is around to mingle with, their energy drains away. They restore their energy by consuming the vibes large groups of people emit.
Hallmarks of an Introvert
- Introverts despise small talks. For many introverts, polite, social conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters feels intrusive and does not motivate introverts to exercise engaging behaviours. In a big tribe, introverts are usually the quiet but active listeners who absorb and analyse all that is verbalised. Introverts appreciate deep, profound conversations with a handful of people. They cherish disclosing their passions and the things they value most.
- Introverts are suckers for distractions. Introverts occasionally pay attention to their surroundings. That is a good and a bad thing. Good in the sense that they are diligent observers who can spot things most people cannot see. Bad in the sense that when there is a lot of noise in the system, introverts’ attention span can be affected with ease.
- When introverts are in the middle of a crowd, they know where the exit is and are picky about where they locate themselves. Many introverts dislike the idea of being in a gigantic social setting. Hence, to remedy that, they usually are aware of where the exit is so that if they need to escape to recharge quickly, they will not spend much time looking for the way out.
- Introverts do not tolerate the idea of being on the phone for long periods of time. There are a few reasons for this. At times, phone calls put a spanner into the works of their daily routine. Moreover, phone calls occasionally invite small talk, which is something introverts dislike.
- Introverts begin to power off when they need some time for themselves. When introverts spend a significant amount of time in a social event and need nothing more but some alone time, you will know it. Every introvert has a limit as to how much they engage with other people, and when they are approaching that limit, they begin to wind down and must have the time for themselves to re-energise. I like to see my energy level mimicking the battery life on our smartphones. When I have had lots of social engagements and have not remedied it with some “me” time, my battery life indicator turns red, and I have to return to the comfort of my home to charge my battery fully.
In The Realm Of The Extrovert
Because extroverts reign most of the land (and sea), it is easy to fall into the impression that the world is designed by them, for them.
Think about it. When you were in school, your teachers subjected you to numerous group-based activities. When you are putting pieces of your career together, you will find that those pieces were made possible thanks to the collaboration with other people.
To make full use of every square inch of office space, most organisations have their staff going about their business in small cubicles. In such settings, employees are literally an arm’s length from each other. Oh, the nightmares of every introvert.
Sometimes, introverts have no choice but to attend networking events to expand their professional career. Although there is no doubt about the benefits and rewards an individual gets from attending them, such events are tiring for introverts. That being said, what can extroverts possibly do to assist their introverted counterparts and make them feel empowered? How can introverts inspire themselves to thrive in this seemingly extroverted world?
Message For the Extroverts
Be in a position of understanding when your introverted friends declined your invitation to go out. Live with that. So often in university, my friends, although they mean well, pulled me into the open when all I wanted was just a night in. Do not feel guilty or get into a fit of rage when your introverted friends opt to communicate with you via the keyboard instead of dialling in.
When you approach an introvert or when the introvert approaches you, remember that small talks are not as meaningful as deep, profound conversations. If you are an educator, recognise the importance of handing out solo work on top of group work. When it comes to the seating arrangement and workspace layout, not all your learners appreciate the idea of sitting in groups.
Message For the Introverts
Place a limit on the amount of time you spend in big groups and head for the exit when you must. Once you have established that limit, make it known to your loved ones and friends. As an introvert myself, I always least two nights weekly and one weekend monthly for myself. Do what you must to ensure that you have enough energy to enjoy life as much as possible.
Therefore, having said all that, do you see yourself as an introvert or an extrovert? If you are the former, what can you do to take charge of your destiny? If you are the latter, what can you do for the introverts in your life?