At the start of this year, I read a book called Quiet, The Power Of Introverts. I’ve been reading about introverts for a while, but this really hit the nail on the head for me. It really explained why I felt:
- Absolutely shattered after being around lots of people for a little while.
- I’d choose a night in with a boxset and the husband over nightclubbing ANY day. In fact, on nights out, I’d often have to have an ‘escape plan’ so I know how long I have to stay. Throughout uni, I used to drink a little more than I needed, to get into the ‘party spirit’ (before I realised I was an introvert rather than a hermit). I should point out, this is not a reflection of other people – just my own energy levels when around a large group of people.
- Completely relieved and motivated by working from home on my own (after years of feeling out-of-place and unambitious.)
- Prefer one-to-ones to group things.
The trouble is, introverts are often made to feel like they’re being rude, unsociable, shy or plain weird. Society in general is more extroverted than introverted (although this varies depending on the country), so introverts can feel like they’re looking in from the outside.
The basic way to tell the difference between an introvert or extrovert isn’t by how loud and confident they are. That’s a myth – introverts can also be confident and bubbly! It’s how they deal with spending time with other people. Extroverts gain energy from being around other people, and often prefer the company of others than being on their own – while introverts need time on their own to regain their energy after spending time with people. This isn’t a hard and fast rule – there are plenty of grey areas on the introvert/extrovert scale (some extroverts quite like spending the occasionally time on their own).
Extrovert? Don’t ‘get’ your introvert friend or family member? Here are my top do’s and don’t’s for dealing with the introvert in your life.
Don’t….take it personally
If an introvert needs some time on their own, don’t take it personally. The last thing an introvert needs is to feel guilty about not spending time with others. Also, if you ask an introvert what they’re doing that evening, the answer ‘nothing’ doesn’t necessarily mean they want to do something. ‘Nothing’ might be their idea of heaven.
Additionally, many introverts are uncomfortable with too much physical affection from those they don’t know well. So if they freeze up when you go in for a hug, give them space. They don’t hate you, they just don’t know you well enough.
Do…..give them time to think
Many introverts like to have the time to think through a decision before choosing a way forward. When possible, it’s best to give introverts a little time to think and assess a situation, rather than rushing them into a rash decision. That’s actually why introverts and extroverts can work well together – introverts are the thinkers, extroverts are the doers.
Don’t assume they’ll be shy
A common assumption is that introverts are shy and unconfident. This varies greatly from introvert to introvert. Personally, I’m quietly confident and chatty, which often throws people when I need time out later on. Actually, a lot of The High Tea Cast are bubbly and charming – but introverted too.
Do email rather than call
I hate phone calls. I hate not being able to see their body language, hate sitting on the end of the phone and find the whole process of ‘catching up’ on the phone draining. Email is much better, as it give introverts an opportunity to respond thoroughly, in their own time. I’m actually a fairly good friend over email, especially if you have a problem and want to talk it through. But on the phone? I suck. I’m itching to hang up.
Don’t be surprised by their offline personality
One of the things that surprised me when I met some people from Twitter in real life, is how different they can be offline. Often, the funniest, smartest, most engaging people online are the quiet, thoughtful ones offline (they’re still smart, funny and engaging, they just tend to be a little more shy about it). Personally I find it much easier to express myself online than I do offline, in writing rather than in speech, so I get this.
The good news is, being an introvert doesn’t need to hold you back. In fact, it can really come in handy. Especially in the digital world where being a deep thinker is a good thing. Did you know many of the co-founders of Apple, Google and Facebook are introverts? Other famous introverts include J.K.Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep and even the bold Rosa Parks. Not bad company, eh?
Are you an introvert? What do you think the pros and cons are?
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