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Difference between Introverts & Extroverts

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Understanding our own personality helps us to be more self aware and hence regulate our emotions & impulses & be kind to ourselves. We can eliminate the thoughts like, "feeling not good enough" or "something is wrong with me" by becoming more self aware. Understanding others' personality can help us to connect better with them. I have always been an introvert as a kid. While growing up, I saw teachers tend to prefer students who were more talkative and responded to answers in class. The quiet ones like me were considered dumb or shy. As a result, various opportunities were given to extroverts than introverts. Hence I grew up with a feeling of something wrong in being quiet. Then I saw this video The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. Subsequently I read the book written by her, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" which changed my life. I started seeing myself differently. I came to peace with me being the Quiet one. Here is where understanding the characteristics of introversion and extroversion personality can be helpful. Please note nobody is 100% introvert or extrovert. But we do tend to lean towards a particular type. When both the characteristics are equally present in a person, they are called ambiverts. Mentioned below are some broad differences among Introverts & Extroverts:

1. Communication

From the outside, Introverts are quiet people. From the inside their mind is fully active brimming with thoughts & ideas! Their quietness should not be mistaken with shyness. They are a people of few words. They are not antisocial but selectively social. They are incapable of doing small and superficial talks which is usually expected in a social gathering but can talk in depth on intellectual subjects. They tend to stay away from the spotlight & usually don't prefer to be the centre of attention. On the other hand, Extroverts are talkative and social beings. They will never shy away from making Friendships & introducing themselves first! They tend to talk a lot and are very good at small talks in a social gathering. They like to be the centre of attention in every situation and talk about themselves a lot! But please note, even extroverts can be nervous during a public performance. Nervousness in public situations is NOT equal to introversion.

2. Energy

The main difference between the two is that introverts derive their energy from internal reflection and spending time with themselves. They consume & direct their energy inwards while Extroverts derive their energy through outward stimulation. They get energy by interacting with others. They consume & direct their energy outwards. Too much of a social gathering can drain the energy of Introverts very quickly while Extroverts find alone time to be exhausting & it drains their energy.

3. How they spend time

Introverts spend time in self reflection. They tend to process their thoughts, feelings & experiences by reflecting about their inner thought processes. They like to spend some time alone for them to recharge mentally & physically. Extroverts like to spend time socializing and interacting with people.

4. Interests

Introverts tend to have few interest areas but have in depth knowledge about their subjects. Extroverts tend to have a broad range of interests with fair enough knowledge of each.

5. Thinking & Action

Introverts tend to think before taking action. This makes them good decision makers but this can sometimes lead to delays in work. Also, they are self aware which helps them regulate their emotions. Extroverts tend to act before thinking, this makes them usually regret their actions later but can lead to faster execution. They are not very good in self awareness which can make regulating their own emotions difficult.

6. Learning Style

Introverts tend to learn by contemplation & reflection while extroverts tend to learn by doing things.

Whether you are a team leader or a teacher, knowledge of these characteristics not only will help you to become self aware but will also help you to manage your group better. For example, you have a team of introverts & extroverts. During brain-storming, extroverts tend to be more talkative & tend to give a lot of ideas, so you might dismiss the quiet introverts as the not so bright ones. But in reality, they process things differently. If you give reflection time, introverts will come up with better & original ideas. For this, you can give the meeting agenda in advance so that they come prepared with ideas. Else, you can use a stick-in-hand approach where turn by turn everyone gets a chance to speak. This will give them reflection time. Also this is beneficial for extroverts as they tend to speak before thinking, with reflection time, they get time to think things through. If you are a teacher, in your teaching style, you can incorporate actionable things which will make the learning practical & it will help extroverts learn faster. For introverts, you can ask questions or discuss case studies which require critical thinking. In personal life, understanding your loved ones' personality type can help you to deal with them in a better way. For example, Introverts can come off as rude & arrogant as they speak less but you can connect with them on topics that give them intellectual stimulation. Extroverts on the other hand can come off as intruding & encroaching your personal space which can be dealt by stating your boundaries clearly.

Hence, if you know yourself & others better, your interaction with them can improve significantly. There is no right way or wrong way to be. We need to celebrate the differences. Each personality has their own strengths & weaknesses. We need to capitalize on their strengths for achieving synergy. Which personality type are you? Have you been judged for being either of the personality type? Comment below and share the knowledge.

Recommended Reading

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking

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