What are Introverts and Extroverts? What are the Differences Between Them?

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Extroversion and Introversion are Innate Personality Traits

We all have specific personality traits (this would be more of the “nature” parts of who we are when we think about “the nature vs nurture” influences) and we all fall somewhere on the spectrum between being more of an extrovert or an introvert.

But they are exactly that: Personality traits.  Traits are something that are innately true of who we are.

I think about the difference between extroversion and introversion as measured by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or The Big 5 Personality Traits, which was developed by psychologist Lewis Goldberg, a personality model most commonly accepted in use today.

For what it’s worth, to understand the differences between extroverts and introverts provides us with the opportunity to understand ourselves, as well as others, a little bit better.

The Main Difference between Extroverts and Introverts

Again, it’s important to remember that we all fall within a spectrum.  But we can talk about the main differences to better understand and identify the differences. 

THE MAIN THING is that extroverts get energy from being social and being around others, while introverts refuel by solitary time, away from people.

Or another way of putting it is, do you have more of a tendency toward focusing on the outer world or the inner world?

Here’s what to know about the two polar ends of the continuum and determining where you fall:

Extroverts are commonly described as gaining energy from the external world and socializing, may seem “always on the go”, get tired after spending too much alone, and often have the ability to think while speaking.

Introverts are frequently introspective, have fewer and deeper connections, and often prefers to think first and talk later.

Being introverted and being shy are two different things. (No, they aren’t the same thing.)

Everyone regardless of being an introvert or an extrovert can experience shyness, which can be described to be more of a social-related stress or anxiety.

So shyness can feel uncomfortable, which can have a negative component to it.

On the other hand, fulfilling the need for an introvert to be alone is a relief, as opposed to it being a negative in anyway.

Of course, introverts CAN also be shy, but ultimately they are two different qualities.

Emphasis on Extroverted Qualities in Western Culture can Create Difficulties for Both Extroverts and Introverts

Expectations for extroverts to be leaders and always being “on”, while introverts are often encouraged to have more extroverted qualities socially and professionally

There is more understanding about the differences between introverts and extroverts and as they say, “knowledge is power.”

And with a better understanding that we are all unique individuals and talking more about it as we are today, allows us to embrace ourselves and other people’s differences.

With that said, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of whether your traits lean more toward introversion or extroversion, which can help with choosing a line of work more suited for you, the same can be true for relationships, too

For instance, as we talked about on the Spin with Barry Davis and Michelle Sturino on Wellness Wednesdays, there’s a reason why the the two of them, as extroverts, chose broadcasting, while I, as an introvert, has mostly been working more one-on-one with people in our respective lines of work.

Relationships and Connections Between Extroverts and Introverts Can be Challenging Due to Differences in Traits and Needs

It’s helpful to understand the differences of others and it’s a good reminder to cultivate empathy and compassion for all of our individual uniqueness

This can especially be true with partners and family members.

It’s possible for introverts and extroverts in families and relationships to find a happy place and it’s all about respecting one another’s unique needs.

1 – Be curious with one another: Ask questions about each other’s preferences with a genuine curiosity for each other’s different needs and work toward finding a mutual area that can work for you both.

2 – Don’t avoid having these kinds of discussions. Your relationship will be stronger for having discussed and to have an understanding of each other’s differences than to try and sweep them under the rug. Understanding on all sides can go a long way.

Curious about where you might fall in the spectrum between extroversion and introversion?

There is a pretty comprehensive online test available on the Psychology Today website.

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