How are introverts different from extroverts? Is there a personality difference?
So I'm an extrovert. I like being around people.
I like talking to them. I certainly don't mind being the center of attention. And you know what? Introverts like being around people. They like talking to them. They don't mind being the center of attention. And if you're an introvert, you may think I'm nuts. And if you're an introvert, you may think I'm nuts too!
So let me explain
For the longest time ever, I thought that the core difference between introverts and extroverts was a factor of ‘spotlight'. That introverts shun the spotlight. And extroverts don't. And it's only after speaking to a lot of introverts that I worked out the main difference between introverts and extroverts.
Extroverts are energised by people.
Introverts are drained by people.
But that would be too much of a generalisation. In fact, introverts aren't drained by people. They're just drained by having to deal with many people. Introverts are fine if they have to deal with a few people (and the fewer the better). When they have to deal with many people, they'll do fine, but they almost instantly run out of battery power.
At the end of a few hours, an introvert would like to sit and stare at the wall, thank you. The extrovert (people like me) can't get enough of people. We want to go out. We want to go to dinner. We want to go to a party. Because the more we get in contact with people, the more we recharge.
You don't have to go far to find an introvert/extrovert. If you're in a relationship, your partner is probably an extrovert (if you're an introvert). And vice versa. Which is why Bill Clinton appears so friendly, and Hillary has to make the effort. Which is why Al Gore may seem all friendly while presenting, but then needs to find a quiet room to re-charge.
But what does this mean for you and me?
If you run workshops or seminars; if you run meetings, you need to understand that introverts and extroverts will operate differently. The introvert won't say much at meetings. They need time to charge, because their batteries are draining constantly. The extrovert may say a lot. That doesn't mean the introvert doesn't have a lot to say. They do.
You just have to find a space where there are less people.
And it's not only workshops or meetings. It could be forums. Or teleclasses. Or any place where people congregate. That's the place that introverts start to feel drained. And the more they run into masses of people, the more their batteries go kaput.
Introverts get a bad rap because people don't understand how they operate.
Now you know. So find a way to communicate with introverts. Get rid of the people.
Do you consider yourself an extrovert? Or introvert? Do you agree with this hypothesis or not?
Philip Pawley says
Great posts – all of them.
Sean, you’re an extra-vert not an extro-vert. You’re first attention is turned (vert) OUTwards (extra) not INwards (intro).
Do you know anyone whose attention is turned OUNwards (extro)?
…or even ITwards (intra)? 🙂
Don’t believe everything you read in a dictionary. 🙂
Chris Garrett says
I agree with what you write here Sean, while in groups my battery depletes and I have to recharge. I have been able to give talks to hundreds of people, but I find it more tiring than a 10 mile hike.
It seems a lot of bloggers are introverts, I am still trying to get the last view submissions to my survey but it looks like a high percentage are answering in the affirmative.
My brother on the other hand seems to be energized by social situations, hence he is a stage musician and I am not I guess 😉
John Haining says
Couldn’t agree more.
In fact, it reminds me of a conversation we once had….
That’s me in a nutshell…and that’s where I’d like to be most times. 😉
I’m relieved someone understands!
Alex Makarski says
As a certifiable introvert, I usually say that “I love people… but only in homeopathic doses”.
You’re spot on, Sean.
Hi Sean, I like the Blog and am thoroughly enjoying the Brain Audit. It took me a while to take that leap of faith. BUT when I did it was so worth while. and then you keep adding additional elements like the blog. Makes it all worth while.
Adam Snider says
I agree with your descriptions of introverts vs. extroverts, Sean. I am an introvert, and the way you have described introverts is accurate; I like people, but the more people that are around, the faster my batteries are drained.
Absolutely right – I didn’t know this description was true until I read a book called “The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Olsen Laney. Now I understand why, after a day of dealing with people in the workplace, what I really want is to sit down with the paper and be quiet for an hour.
Great Post! I’m loving your site, found it on copyblogger. Your cartoons are a great addition to the internet. I’ve never seen this before online. Keep em coming.
Oritseyemi E. Madamedon says
..Introverts get a bad rap because people don’t understand how they operate. Now you know. So find a way to communicate with introverts. Get rid of the people.
Right on spot!
I was in this relationship wherein I was mis understood for being too quiet. I had always been quiet naturally.
Although if you are in my domain(on a topic that interest me, once I get excited, I can go for a longer time)
But in total, I think I just enjoy being in my own quiet world.
The frustrating thing is you get asked all time “are you ok?”
When you ask, why?
They say,”you haven’t said a thing or something”
I then start wondering if I was the one that had problems or they.
In summation,I think Introverts will not be understood most especially when you are in the midst of loud mouthed folks who most times have no clue about making sure that their brain is in gear before engaging mouth.
Best theory i’ve heard of it. I am most definately an introvert and this taps exactly how i feel – often.!
Jason Crowe says
Great post. I am an introvert & your post resonates as truth for me. My wife is an extrovert.
It’s kinda funny…
She wonders why I am not talking. It’s because I am thinking about the situation.
I wonder why she isn’t thinking. It’s because she’s talking about the situation.
Beau LaDieu says
Jason, your comment was so insightful it bears repeating!
“She wonders why I am not talking. It’s because I am thinking about the situation.
I wonder why she isn’t thinking. It’s because she’s talking about the situation.”
A profound key to understanding relationships and the dynamics involved in social settings is contained in your comment.
Thank you for sharing! I will “think” about this for some time… LOL
Todd Plager says
Now I have to donate all of my “I’m an Extrovert” t-shirts…. After reading this, I really would more closely identify myself as having a stronger “introvert” personality. This is quite a switch as I have always thought of myself as an extrovert.
Great topic of conversation Sean – thank you!
Sean D'Souza says
I found it fascinating the moment I realised the difference. We changed our course structure because of it.
I love this – so true. Years ago i did a Myers Briggs class. It was so enlightening to see how I operate as an introvert and more importantly how I am viewed by extroverts. They get confused by us. I can talk to a large group of people in an educational environment, crack jokes and enjoy the attention. I can hang around afterwards and answer questions. After a while, I just want to leave and recharge. The same group of people I have spoken to might meet me at a party and I stand in small groups and listen rather than contribute. I let the extroverts do all the talking. Talking and listening to semi strangers is hard work. People are confused – is this the same person who can entertain a roomful in a seminar? I struggle to stay for more than a couple of hours, unless I am with people I know well. My extrovert husband has to be dragged away, by me well before he is ready to leave.
Get me on a topic of my interest though and I will probably bore you to death. Small talk is hard, topics of interest are easy.
The problem with extroverts is when in a conversation with introverts is they keep filling the space with talk, I notice they often feel uncomfortable and just keep talking. Here’s my advice for extroverts, ask questions, there is a lot going on that you might find really interesting. Introverts often don’t feel understood or appreciated by some extroverts. We feel written off because we are quiet.
On the other hand as an introvert – I need to appreciate how I am viewed and make an effort to be friendly and open, and chatty even though sometimes it seems fake or unnatural.
Michele Christensen says
Great article! I’m a social, friendly introvert and I think it’s great that you’ve highlighted some of the misunderstandings about introverts. I’m not agoraphobic or asocial, in fact I like to socialize but only in small doses followed by quiet time. Professionally, I’ve learned that at events that last more than a day, I’m better off going to lunch and dinner by myself even though that means missing some networking time.
I am an introvert and this is the best description I have ever read and it is entirely true!
Thank you. I completely agree. I am an introvert, and I like small groups of people very much. When I’m in big groups, I just want to go home pretty quickly after I arrive.
This described me very well, I could’nt have said it better. I am an introvert and love my own company, too many people gets me drained out. I hate being asked “are you okay.”. It is really annoying to explain why you are so quiet.
Sean D'Souza says
Nice to know, Michael.