While extroverts are stimulated by the company of others, introverts are content to be by themselves. Introverts can be sociable, but find it draining rather than fulfilling; social interaction being pleasant for a while, but then the individual will need time alone to recharge their batteries.
Some people assume from an introvert’s behaviour that they are arrogant, shy, aloof, rude, unfriendly, antisocial or scary. Introverts will be confused by such misconceptions, as they don’t dislike other people, they are just busy doing their own thing: observing their surroundings, absorbed in their own thoughts and generally enjoying life.
Misconceptions about introverts may occur because: –
- The introvert’s lack of outward enthusiasm is misconstrued. Others may think the introvert doesn’t like them or disapproves of what they are saying; whereas in actual fact the introvert is considering the information given and has no strong opinion.
- Social events can leave the introvert feeling tired and irritable. They would prefer to do something else, preferably something useful or of personal interest. Social chit-chat can seem boring and many introverts would prefer to be alone with their thoughts
- At job interviews, the individual may be judged to be too reserved and quiet to be considered for the post. The introvert meanwhile, feels that they are being polite and responding thoughtfully to what the interviewer is saying.
- Introverts are masters of the RBF, (Resting Bitch Face). As far as they are concerned, their face is expressionless. Unfortunately, others interpret their blank expression as sadness, arrogance or unfriendliness when, in actual fact, the individual is feeling anything but.
- Introverts have opinions and are happy to participate if they have something to say. They are content to know what they know, and do not feel the need to prove it to everyone else. Others surprise them by seeming to want to always participate, always say something even when what they say isn’t particularly relevant.
Strategies for introverts to follow: –
- Use the written word: this will give time to communicate a considered response.
- Use your strengths of observation to help you understand the behaviour of others.
- Build regular downtime into your diary.
- There is no need to defend yourself or justify your behaviour. Introverts simply prefer their own company, so don’t force yourself to be something you are not merely to please others.
- Accept that being introvert does not make you incompetent, any more than being extrovert makes you competent.
- Remember that being alone allows time to be spent on reflection, problem solving, lateral thinking or considering a variety of approaches and solutions to challenges.
- Play to your strengths. Find friends, hobbies, school subjects or employment that enable you to utilise your skills.
- Surround yourself with people who energise rather than drain you. Better to be energised by an interesting conversation with a close friend, rather than left brain dead by banal chit-chat with work colleagues.