7 Things All Introverts Understand
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What is an introvert? As Carl Jung once explained it, “Each person seems to be energized more by either the external world (extraversion) or the internal world (introversion).” Though one-third of all people are introverts, it’s not exactly easy to be in this minority these days, particularly in the Western—or at least, American—world. Large, outgoing personalities are prized (and can even inexplicably win you the Republican nomination for president), which may leave those who are naturally introverted feeling like failures. Here, seven things all introverts understand about the ways in which they interact just a little bit differently with the world than extroverts do.
Introverts feel best when they're connecting on a deep level, and small talk stresses them out. This can cause major anxiety around party situations, which introverts tend to prefer to avoid whenever possible. Stranger danger is also a thing for introverts—not because they're afraid of new people, but because they're afraid of having to talk to new people about the weather.
Introverts perform best without distraction, whereas extroverts do their best work in busy environments. As Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of the Introvert put it, "Extraverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments.” For introverts, then, open office plans can be major productivity-killers.
Introverts often feel like their "batteries" are drained after any event which requires they interact with many people, including a typical work day. Alone time is necessary if they're to recharge—too little of it can result in fatigue, frayed emotions and an inability to perform. Most introverts are also acutely aware of the nuance between being alone and being lonely—the former rarely has anything to do with the latter.
Introverts do their best creative work, critical thinking and self-improvement when alone. As Quiet author Susan Cain puts it, "Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation."
Since introverts need quiet time to process their thoughts, they prefer not to participate in spontaneous arguments, or even brainstorms, as much as do most extroverts. This trait can be an asset when utilized in group settings—in Quiet, an experiment in which groups of people were put in a hypothetical survival situation is described. The groups that heeded the advice of the introverts in their group survived, while those who didn't were not as lucky.
This one has been backed up to some degree by science—there is a fundamental difference in the way introverts and extroverts process rewards from the external world. Introverts may not be as motivated in their actions by potential accolades, promotions or financial rewards as they are by internal pressure or cues.