The Original Source appears to be: http://www.carlkingcreative.com/10-myths-about-introverts
They hate small talk.
Small talk is a social skill. and when meeting a new person small talk is generally all you have. This basically affirms the "myth".
They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings
Talk about a value judgment on non-introverts. Being polite is more important than being pointlessly honest.
If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life.
If only I could find myself a loyal friend who can't make idle talk, will talk for days about things that only interest him and won't want to do much out in public.
They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.”
Ah yes, pity those non-introverts that take weeks to figure "it" out.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Non-introverts are mindless slaves to culture and advertising!
it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Or said in a way to not flex the ego "Their inner world is comforting and welcoming without challenge from outside stimulus."
No it isn't. My friend of 8 years, and also my roomate for 4 years told me Sunday I was being rude because he had his friends over and I retreated to my quarters. People just do not understand introversion, so it is good to just send them a link like this.
If you can't explain your behavior to your roommate in terms of immediate personal motivations don't expect a generalized explanation to be any more enlightening.
Imagine if your compiler spit out a link to a blog post about generic programming syntax rather than where specifically the parser had a problem with your code. The blog could be completely wrong or completely right, neither one changes the fact that there's a specific conflict between what the compiler expects and what was given to it.
Even if it is a "chain-mail style bullshit list", your condescending retorts don't give your point of view much credit.
For example, the opposite of individualistic is communalistic---not "mindless slave to culture and advertising".
>Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts (in my experience) _reject the concept of weird_. Social decisions like who's "in" and who's "out" hold no weight. Until this is understood, you're (by you I mean the writer, not you, parfe) not countering the myth that introverts are weird, you're just explaining the reasons people say that introverts are weird.
>Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race.
Again, what is "broken?"
It reads like an extrovert making a poor attempt to explain what he knows of introversion to other extroverts.
I'm pretty sure you're not talking about introverts... perhaps some subset, like geeks?
The real reasons other people see you as "introvert" can be plentiful so it is actually pretty ignorant to attribute all introverts with those "myths".
The way I see it is time management: life is short, do you want to spend most of it dealing with people or things? for me it's "things", because they have a higher signal/noise ratio.
I'm very much an introvert, but over the years, I've learned that networking is a critical part of being successful in any business endeavor, and it is nearly impossible to network following typical introvert patterns. As a result, I will go up to a group standing around at a social event, throw out my hand, and say "Hi, I'm Travis. What's your name?" even though I hate every second of it (and, given the sieve my brain is when it comes to names, I will likely forget before we are done talking :/).
Given that, I don't believe for an instant that I understand being an extrovert. My wife is the prototypical extrovert. She will have life-long friends within minutes of entering a room full of people she's never met before. I will never understand how she does it, but more importantly, I will never understand why she does it.
My real point is that anyone who believes they KNOW how anyone else thinks is wrong. It's a very egotistical thought to have that you know so well what another person thinks or feels.
Here's what I think: as a young kid, you get exposed to things that shape your attitude. If your early experiences are negative in social settings, perhaps you grow up to be introverted. But what happened first - your negative experiences, or an attitude that pre-disposed you towards negative social experiences? Can little little kids have attitudes like that? Hard to day - how do we really know?
I don't care what physical science has to say on it regarding brain maturity, neuro-pathways, etc - unless we can communicate with infants, we don't know if they have pre-disposed attitudes or thoughts.
If this is how you think extroverts are, then I would suggest that you don't understand very well how extroverts think.
As someone who spent his youth as an introvert and later discovered the joys of extroversion, introversion seems like a suffocating, lonely, and stunted existence. Do those years mean I understand how introverts think? Of course not. Introverts obviously don't think their lives are lonely or stunted. Instead, I have to view others' choices with humility and accept that their thinking will always be alien to me.
I'd say that "it's probably best to be somewhere in the middle, so that you're neither worn out by social situations or bored by spending time alone" but there's probably enough self-aggrandisement in this thread already.
As for not being able to change however, I don't believe that's set in stone. I took the test about 7 years ago and since then I feel like I'm more like 65%i/35%e. The whole idea of charging however is strange. Though I felt back before the test that i could only recharge at home, alone. At one point while i was the most social I felt as if I had to charge at home, then go out to recharge to balance it out. The brain is a very strange thing.
Someone told me Friday "if there is nothing inside of you, of course you will try to focus on showing your outside. That is all you have.".
In principle, it seems possible to have more interest in things than people ("think like a cat") but still get energized by people when you're with them (or, continue thinking like a cat when you're around them and explore how you can subtly direct social interactions or explain the behavior of others using simple theories like status preservation).
Common misconception about introversion vs extraversion: that it always manifests in interactions with other people. The reality is that they define how you deal with the outer world. For instance, riding a roller coaster is an extraverted activity, even if you go alone. Staying home and reading a book is an introverted activity even if you invite someone else to read with you.
When you say you like "things", that's still an extraverted attitude. Things still exist in the outer world. The real question is "Do you prefer the outer world or your inner world?" This is the question that helped me realize that I'm an (unfocused, non-goal-oriented) extravert.
I read the book myself recently, and I can highly recommend it if you feel that you sit anywhere on the introvert spectrum.
It covers the "science" behind introversion, how introverts vs. extroverts think and respond to stimuli and neurochemicals. (I put science in quotes as I don't know enough about the brain to know how scientific the discussion is but I found it useful and interesting nonetheless).
It then goes on to look at how this affects introverts' interactions with themselves, others, and in social situations - with some thoughts and guidance on how to better integrate into an "extroverted world" without just trying to be more extroverted.
I have definitely found it helpful and it's made me think a lot about who I am and how I react to life as an introvert.
Yes, this is often called being rude. It may be true that by this guys definition introverts don't mean to be rude, but if a person (introvert or otherwise) acts as described above, that is rude.
Besides, the internet is wonderful for me because social niceties have faded. You don't get forum posts with 5 lines of social waffle, you get people just cutting to the chase. Think just-go-ahead-and-say-it IRC.
There was a wonderful quote to this effect a while ago on HN but I can't quite find it.
Again, for extroverts. For (many) introverts forced small talk is unnatural and often makes interactions more awkward.
Would you consider things like that small talk? I don't, and it's usually enough to decide how to proceed. Being direct can mean asking someone if they're up to dealing with what you have to say. I've found that empathy is a great conversation starter.
Small talk and social niceties aren't merely hot air, they are tools you can use to assess a person's mood, what they are interested in or comfortable discussing, or even whether it is productive to discuss something at all. Consider it the metadata of conversation.
Also consider that conversation is two-way communication. You reveal information about yourself not just by the answers you give, but by the questions you ask.
If I walk into my subordinate's office right now and say "Have you finished that graph yet?" then that communicates that I'm really impatient about getting that graph. Which would be fine if I am, but I'm not. If I do that, I'll just make him jumpy and anxious.
Instead I'll wander down to his office and start with a "Hey, how's it going?" before asking about the graph, cuz I'm not actually impatient to get it, I'm just interested to know whether he's making progress or whether there's anything I need to help him with. The smalltalk is basically just equivalent to "I come in peace".
If I were a gorilla I'd probably have to do this with gestures and facial expressions, but since I'm a human I have this extra tool in my arsenal to communicate the non-threatening nature of my approach. Awesome!
That is how we introverts see it.
Out of place small talk doesn't actually help people that are perspective enough to realize you want something. My experience has been that when a manager randomly starts a conversation that's not work related when it's not lunch or break time they are going to be asking or demanding things I won't like. Infinitely so when they just called you into their office.
In that situation, I too would prefer the introvert's preferences. But it's far from an ideal situation.
Getting into a time-filling general conversation about the weather is 'small talk'.
The two are pretty distinct, and the dislike of small talk does not mean that the social nicety grease is discarded.
Of course, people that think "no point yet" = "not valuable ever" might want to pursue philosophical nihilism until terminal depression. But I digress.
Can you give me an example of the kind of small talk that you find to be painful?
Introverts like those places.
Thanks to all three of you for your examples.
By extroverts. Meanwhile, many introverts consider it rude to waste their time with meaningless chatter.
It's pointless to say that X is not Y by redefining Y. When Y has a commonly understood definition, the more useful thing to do is debate whether it is important to be Y.
Similarly a consultant friend of mine talks of a US colleague who worked in her office for half a year here in Aus. Just before he went back he lamented that he probably would have had a better time if he'd realised that the people being perfectly polite to him in the office probably didn't like him, and those making friendly fun of him probably liked him a lot.
Have you seen Beautiful Young Minds? There's a scene where one of the students learns he has made the next round. The narrator says "congratulations". They chat a bit, and as the narrator is leaving he says, "congratulations" again, and the student in a dismissive way says, "You already said that".
I think that's what most people see in introverts that is rude. Or when you say "Hi Tim" in the hall and he just looks away. Or if you ask "Can you pass the ketchup?" in the cafeteria and they say, "I prefer not to".
All of these are probably very honest responses, yet I think I'd bucket them as rude.
The general crux is that there exist people who are what you might call 'biologically' introverts (or extraverts) but who have made a conscious decision that there is something that they love more than their base trait in the I/E personality dimension.
Examples of pesudo-extroverts might be a very shy actor, singer or performer. Socially they'd be considered an introvert, but they love their craft so much that they pretend to be an extrovert in order to do the thing that they love.
I thought it was pretty interesting.
(More reading: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/february-2004/personalities-a...)
And more, this is a good one too: http://harvardmagazine.com/2003/07/introversion-unbound.html
I think it is worthwhile to note that not all introverts are alike. I can tick off some similiarities in this list with myself, but my experience of being an introvert is quite different. ymmv.
The "problem," if there is one, is that extraverts are uncomfortable and find it difficult to interact with introverts. But this is as much the fault of extraverted people as it is of introverted people. They speak a different language and need to meet halfway to interact effectively.
Due to the personality type, however, the extraverts see this as a huge problem while the introverts really don't care all that much.
What if we asked the obvious counter-question: Why are extraverts so threatened by anyone who won't interact with them on their terms?
Nobody asks that because extraverts get a pass on this; it's the introvert's fault when social interaction between and extravert and an intravert is uncomfortable.
I can see why that would happen but it's odd.
I act as an extravert in certain situations and as an introvert in others, so I feel qualified to answer your question. Extraverts don't always interact with everyone -- for example, in circles where social cliques are established, extraverts will interact with people outside of their clique less often. I call this "exclusionary" behavior -- one that serves to maintain the exclusiveness of the clique. Given that cases of extreme introversion are rare, an extravert A is more likely to interpret another individual B (who could well be an extreme introvert) as another extravert who simply shuns individual A so as to exclude A from his or her clique.
The reason this "misinterpretation" occurs is because extreme introversion is rare (1% of the population?) while exclusionary behavior (shunning others to maintain exclusive cliques) is relatively highly prevalent (20% of the population?). So the conditional probability that individual B is not an introvert but an extravert exhibiting exclusionary behavior is high. Basically, the extravert A makes a correct conclusion given the limited information he/she possesses. Because the introvert B is unlikely to engage into conversation with A, the individual A will never gain more information about B and will therefore maintain the conclusion that B is an asshole.
Touche. There is only one center of attention, and I have noticed extreme extroverts will not let you in if you are going to take away from their attention. It's like drug.
I don't know if "fix" is the right word in the complete, but they can definitely change. I used to follow that list pretty closely - and while there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, I realized that it can be extremely socially disadvantageous. Regardless of how smart someone is, it's an undeniable fact that in this world, almost all the time, you need the support of other people to make your desires come true. I'll cite the academic community on this one: even if you make a great scientific discovery, you'll never get a Nobel prize if all the other academics think you're a jerk.
I really think the primary talent any intelligent person should learn is adaptation - and that includes adapting to your social surroundings. For example: although I played a lot of sports semi-professionally, I have never enjoyed watching sports... especially team sports. Yet, when I go to a hockey game, I make a ton of noise, and force myself to get into the spirit and have a good time, even though I still haven't bothered to learn the rules.
Don't like idle gossip? Well, it's the fastest way to permeate a new group of people. Now I'm an active gossip and drama seeker (although I make sure the gossip is harmless).
In any case, I feel his point needs to be refined a bit.
We all know that there's a big overlap between liking something and being good at it, and similarly between being bad at something and disliking it. I used to hate running, until I got to be good at it, at which point I started liking it. It's the same thing with social interactions -- people who suck at them will dislike them. If your conversations with strangers are full of awkward pauses and struggling to find something to say then no wonder you hate talking to strangers.
But social skills can be improved through practice, so it's not surprising to see some introverts becoming less introverted as they get better at talking to people.
What I found was that despite me having fun and being confident in talking to people and interacting in group activities, there's just comes a point in my day where I literally just don't want to talk to anyone. Socially (and even physically, albeit to a lesser extent) speaking, I'm completely and totally drained. It becomes almost painful to engage in conversation that I feel isn't too useful or too interesting. And honestly, I kinda want to be left alone so I can just gather myself. Sometimes I need a day, sometimes a week. But ultimately, at some point I need time to recover from the social stimulation of my day.
From my experiences, I think that's where a big divide between introverts and extroverts exist. To the extrovert, when an introvert gets into his/her shell so that they can recover socially, it appears as if they may be aloof or bored with you, when in fact, they're just tired. This is especially irritating with friends who constantly ask me if "I'm okay" or if there's "something wrong". They don't understand that I'm comfortable with silence and for large parts of my day I actually prefer, and it has nothing to do with them.
Also, just a side note. Something I found quite funny is that because I feel that I'm an introvert and had to struggle with social anxiety through my teenage years, I now feel like I have to overcompensate in social settings, so I'm generally the one who leads a conversation and pushes it forward. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there are others who also do this.
I think to an extent, we're debating the semantics of "extrovert".
Even if you accept this one dimensional personality description as being useful by itself;
- is it constant (the same in all circumstances),
- does it vary over time?
- Is everyone either an "introvert" or an "extrovert" OR do people fit on a sliding scale between the two extremes?
I'm guessing that the author feels he is an introvert. IMO, rather than trying to redefine or clarify what it means to be an "introvert" just don't accept the "introvert/Extrovert" labels. Its a pseudo-scientific term which is used in a lazy way to put people into neat boxes.
I'll bet most people can think of situations where they will act "extroverted" and others where they'll be "introverted".
We are neither a number or a label!
Introversion/Extroversion is very much a matter of degree, just like pretty much any other human trait. It doesn't uniquely determine behavior by any means, humans are very complex creatures. However, there is a pretty strong correlation  between someone acting in an introverted or extroverted manner in one situation and acting the same way later.
EDIT: All of which isn't to say that people can't use those terms in pseudo-scientific ways, or that the author of the article isn't. After all, people use terms like 'mass' and 'gravity' in pseudo scientific ways too.
1. "Many studies have confirmed that in predicting actual behavior the more numerous facet or primary level traits are far more effective (e.g. Mershon & Gorsuch, 1988; Paunonon & Ashton, 2001)"
2. Most measures are based on self-description.
So we have a personality description which is not very accurate in terms of predicting behaviour and which also leads to a lot of disagreement (as witnessed by the comments here) about what it actually means in terms of behaviour and human interaction!
If a "measure" is (a) not very accurate and (b) confuses rather than clarifies behaviour / human interaction then for me its not very useful no matter how seductive it is.
Seeing introversion as a preference or identity is fine as long as you have a nice consistently introverted life and that's exactly what you want, but it harks back to the day when everybody had their place and accepted their limitations and anyone who felt any conflict or frustration about it was "maladjusted." If you're introverted and want some of the benefits of extroversion, such as a bigger social network for locating jobs and meeting women, or if you discover that you really enjoy a hobby that has a large incidental but unavoidable social component, then you're supposed to realize those things are "just not you" and go home and read a book.
Introversion as an identity is a nice explanation when you really don't want to do something. "What, you don't want to go to the Nicki Minaj concert?" "Let me explain. You see, I'm an introvert...." But what explanation do you give yourself when you really want to go see a certain band but you think the social aspect will drain you so much it will be hard to enjoy? There's no simple "I like this" or "I don't like this." There's a conflict that can't be resolved. What do you do when you realize it's nice to have a big diverse circle of friends sometimes -- for trying to round people up for certain activities, or so you aren't limited to the tastes of your one or two really close friends -- but maintaining that social network is intimidating and draining and you don't know if you're up to it? Introversion starts to seem less like a matter of taste and more like a limitation you're fighting against.
It's nice to say you're a picky person who doesn't like superficial relationships, who only wants a handful of close friends you can engage with in a meaningful way, but then you plan a backpacking trip and realize there's some climbing involved and it isn't safe to go alone. You could limit yourself to whatever your friends like to do. But the trip sounds really cool, and now that you think about it, you're pretty sure you'd enjoy rock climbing in itself. Wait, there's a problem. Learning basic rock climbing doesn't intimidate you, but you will have to meet people who like climbing, meet enough of them and cultivate enough social connections to put together three or four people to do this hike. What would sound fun to an extrovert -- meet a bunch of new people who share my interests, yay! -- poses a tough decision for the introvert. Do I really want to do this? Will it be worth it? Am I even capable of doing it? It will involve a lot of social interaction, and I don't know if I can muster enough smalltalk and conviviality or if I'll get tired, zone out, fail to engage and be engaging.
That brings up another matter of "taste." It would be nice to say I'm simply bored by smalltalk, but I can't kid myself; it isn't that simple. I know that once in a while I do like smalltalk, and when I think about it my ability to enjoy a social situation has more to do with my mood going into it than the situation itself. I get bored when I'm not engaged, and I have difficulty engaging with people because anxiety and stress make me shut down. When I'm overflowing with positive feelings, I have no problem engaging with people and enjoying smalltalk. So the problem isn't smalltalk, unless I want to say that I'm stupid to enjoy it when I do, and right to be bored when it bores me.
I could resolve all these problems by having a consistent life and molding my tastes to coincide with my comfort zone. I could just happen to prefer hobbies that shelter me from social situations or bring me together with other introverts instead of forcing me into uncomfortable situations. It's great when it works out that way, and it's certainly a major factor in how I manage to enjoy life! But I chafe against it. I'm maladjusted. I don't like tailoring my life to my natural limitations any more than I like tailoring my life to other people's expectations. My introversion messes with me, so I mess with it right back. Sometimes, when I can afford the energy.
I identify as an introvert. I like thinking about mind, experience, truth, math, language, etc. I don't have a social anxiety disorder or any other type of anxiety disorder, so I'm not afraid to join a rock climbing group or any other type of group. I go dancing. I make small talk. These things can be introverted activities, if you make them.
My M.O. with respect to social situations seems to be "create comfort zone -> expand comfort zone." Since I'm an introvert, I tend to bring people into my world rather than go into theirs.
That being said, I vastly prefer spending time with one person whom I really like to a bunch of people who I vaguely like. I also hate carnivals.
Yep, that's exactly my point. The label has been embraced as a way to put a positive spin on social anxiety. I don't necessarily think it's a good way to use the word, but on the other hand, I'm not sure it's accurate to call someone like you who is able to enjoy himself and interact fluently with groups of people an "introvert." The traditional use of the word seems more in line with the idea of an introvert as someone who has an aversion to social interaction rather than a simple preference for other uses of time. Naturally people tend to rationalize, so it's hard to tell.
By the way, I think it's healthy and not entirely unjustified to put a positive spin on social anxiety. Most of my abilities and good qualities come from the time I've spent alone. I just don't think it's sustainable to be in complete denial about it.
There's been plenty written on the topic, including the linked article, which you seem to reject.
Not at all. First of all, introversion was a concept long before psychologists started to get technical with it. Second, its appeal as a psychological concept is mostly to laymen like us, and it certainly isn't used in any technical sense when people write blog posts about how great introverts are. So even without citing any disagreements among psychologists, there's a question of whether we should go with a some psychologist's technical meaning or the meaning in popular usage. In popular usage, you can see disagreement here on this page.
One way to see how a word is used is Google:
http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/jung.html: "Weakness of the introverted attitude includes ... (1) a lack confidence in relation to people and things and (2) a tendency to be unsociable, shy, and hesitant." Don't worry, his list of weaknesses for extraversion is bigger ;-)
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsytraits.html: "The more obvious aspects of introversion are shyness, a distaste for social functions, and a love of privacy."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion: "Introversion does not describe social discomfort but rather social preference: an introvert may not be shy but may merely prefer less social activities." Good ol' Wikipedia, the voice of the people ;-)
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/introvert: "1. a shy person. 2. Psychology . a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings ( opposed to extrovert)." Funny how dictionaries list multiple definitions for words. Clearly they're all wrong except one!
Here's a nice quote from Jung himself about the "extreme" introvert (gathered from this page: http://www.infj.com/INFJ_Introversion.htm): "In a large gathering he feels lonely and lost. The more crowded it is, the greater becomes his resistance. He is not in the least 'with it,' and has no love of enthusiastic get-togethers. He is not a good mixer. What he does, he does in his own way, barricading himself against influences from outside. . . . Under normal conditions he is pessimistic and worried, because the world and human beings are not in the least good but crush him. . . ."
Wow, that's a downer. You'll find more ammunition for yourself than for me on that page, though, as apparently psychologists have tried to empirically distinguish shyness, introversion, neuroticism, embarrassability, public shyness, private shyness, and sociability. Naturally in order to fit all those in as distinct concepts they've had to define them quite narrowly as aspects of personality instead of sticking to the broader idea of introversion as a "type."
However, on that page the immediate followup to the Jung quote I quoted (not by Jung, and possibly not referring to his views) is this: "In less extreme cases, introverts are simply more conservative than not, preferring the familiar surroundings of home and intimate times with a few close friends; they husband their energy and would rather stay put than go from place to place."
I think that characterization would be contested as well. So no, there is no coherent consensus. You can see all over this page as well that many of the arguments made here take the same form: accept my definition of "introvert", and my conclusions follow naturally. So the real argument is about the meaning of the word.
I may be missing a better link elsewhere on the page, but the only "article" I see is one person's biased top-ten list inspired by a self-help book. You'll see a big difference between the Google results for introversion and the results for extro- or extraversion. There's a whole lot of boosterism and self-help content for introversion, but not for extroversion. I like some of it, but honestly, I think most of it can be ignored. We should know when we're being pandered to.
I believe that's wrong; the term was introduced by Jung in Psychological Types and thus originates as a technical concept in psychology.
I think the real problem you have is with the loose use of the word "concept" by the parent.
I was assuming the presentation in the parent to apply a reductio style argument without establishing the verity of his premise. My pedantry must be wearing off or something.
Let's see a usage of "introvert" before Jung that has anything to do with personality types.
Wordsworth, "The Excursion", 1814:
--Nor deem that his mild presence was a weight
That pressed upon his brother's house; for books
Were ready comrades whom he could not tire;
Of whose society the blameless Man
Was never satiate. Their familiar voice,
Even to old age, with unabated charm
Beguiled his leisure hours; refreshed his thoughts;
Beyond its natural elevation raised
His __introverted__ spirit; and bestowed
Upon his life an outward dignity
Which all acknowledged. The dark winter night,
The stormy day, each had its own resource;
Song of the muses, sage historic tale,
Science severe, or word of holy Writ
Announcing immortality and joy
To the assembled spirits of just men
Made perfect, and from injury secure.
--Thus soothed at home, thus busy in the field,
To no perverse suspicion he gave way,
No languor, peevishness, nor vain complaint:
And they, who were about him, did not fail
In reverence, or in courtesy; they prized
His gentle manners: and his peaceful smiles,
The gleams of his slow-varying countenance,
Were met with answering sympathy and love.
Similar usage here:
Check out the definition of introversion at the top of the page in this dictionary: "The set of introverting, or the state of being introverted; a turning or direction inward, physical or mental."
Not really relevant to your question since the usage is different, but interesting nonetheless, since it includes not only introversion but extroversion as well, predating Jung by a century and showing that people can be quite flexible about how they understand words like these:
Thanks for this quote. I feel that all of the discussion here of how being an introvert is a quirky personality trait and a fun expression of human diversity makes a mockery of people with social anxiety.
--- guy who never left his home between 2004 and 2008
I'm an introvert myself, and I don't feel social anxiety. I grew up thinking I was shy, since my introversion seemed to be traditionally and socially identified with shyness, but at one point I realized I didn't feel social anxiety at all. It actually seemed to me that extrovert were much more worried about social situations and how they were perceived socially than me.
I don't try to explain my introversion to extroverts because I've noticed most of them don't get it. This makes it hard to use as an excuse, or even as a reasonable reason for your behaviour. I get dragged to social situations sometimes because extroverted people just assume I'll have fun if I just relax a bit, and sometimes I accept because I don't want to be rude. The result is I don't feel anxious or anything like that, I just get bored fast and want to go home soon. If I were actually interested in some activity being an introvert wouldn't get in the way, because being interested in it would keep my interest. It's just that social activities don't usually keep my interest for too long. They just feel like a boring waste of time to me, not something that makes me anxious.
This doesn't mean I don't enjoy social situations sometimes. I enjoy parties and concerts and stuff like that. I'm just the kind of guy who leaves the party early with some kind of excuse, not because of social anxiety, but because I'm starting to get tired and bored with the whole thing. I don't ever use "I'm an introvert" as an excuse, since I know people will not get it. I don't use it and I don't see other people use it to explain why they do certain things or don't do other things.
But are you an introvert?
There's a difference between self-identification and scientific observation.
This is actually LOL because when Jung coined the terms, he meant them to refer to ones relationship with the outside world. A person who explores the world alone is an extrovert, because he looks at the world outside himself. A person who is always surrounded by friends but always worries what they think is an introvert; he's looking inwards.
"What, you don't want to go to the Nicki Minaj
concert?" "Let me explain. You see, I'm an
It's not that I don't like going to concerts. It's really more about whether I feel up to it or not. Most of the time I do since I have plenty of time to recharge during my regular schedule.
I know that once in a while I do like smalltalk, and
when I think about it my ability to enjoy a social
situation has more to do with my mood going into it than
the situation itself. I get bored when I'm not engaged,
and I have difficulty engaging with people because
anxiety and stress make me shut down.
If you're introverted and want some of the benefits of
extroversion, such as a bigger social network for
locating jobs and meeting women, or if you discover that
you really enjoy a hobby that has a large incidental but
unavoidable social component, then you're supposed to
realize those things are "just not you" and go home and
read a book.
Someone can be an introvert without being maladjusted or having an anxiety disorder.
Even though I identify as being introverted, people are usually surprised when I say that I'm introverted. They feel like I am sociable and even extroverted.
A few years ago I gave myself a hard time about it-- why couldn't I keep up with social scenes like others could? Why do parties always burn me out? Identifying as an introvert has explained these facets, and given me the understanding to overcome them when I need to.
I am the definition of introversion (to myself, avoid crowds, do not need to chat with everyone at the party, content with silence that others think is awkward, definitely do not want to ever be the center of attention, like to be alone with my thoughts ...)
"What, you don't want to go to the Nicki Minaj concert?" "Let me explain. You see, I'm an introvert...."
I have been to concerts by myself just because my friends do not like Coldplay, or would not pay a hundred to watch Jay Z, or just wanted to be out of the house. Guess what? I always had a blast.
I have been to the movies alone. My ex girlfriend used to hate me for this one. So now I do not tell anyone I date when I need a freaking night alone at the theather. It's my dirty little secret.
I go clubbing mostly by myself because my friends like to go to places I do not like. On top of that I am shy, but boy do I talk to girls. "It takes one man to talk to girls", you do not need a wingman to talk to girls. You only need a nice smile, and attitude.
I do not like hiking, true, but I do take shorts trips in remote places where it would be advisable to have someone with you. I prefer to do this alone. Danger or not.
I do not like smalltalk, because it is just that smalltalk, but I understand society deals with me as I am so I make an effort to deal with society as it is, hence I do the smalltalk in order to find something that may appeal. You almost always find it within a minute.
EDIT: Introvert does not mean antisocial.
I run marathons, but I'm not athletic. See the contradiction?
It's more like - I run (and win at) marathons, but I can't do relay races because it throws my game off.
So he can't swim, but when he needs to get to the other side of the lake, he beats Michael Phelps.
90% of all disagreements between human beings derive from semantic confusion :)
yep, me too. I find there's a huge difference, to do with what's expected of you. At a movie or a concert, there's no requirement for social interaction, so it takes a lot less energy than, say a party at someone's house. The presence of lots of other people does not in itself make the situation tiring. In fact it can feel liberating to be there but not have any expectations put upon you.
You can also say that the preference of introversion is inconvenient - the fact that you don't like hanging out with these semi-arbitrary people "prevents" you from having fun. To take that to the extreme, it would be pretty convenient to always be unconditionally happy.
EDIT: I do understand it's just an example and there are indeed some activities that need to be done in groups and would often, in practice, be done in groupls of people you don't know or don't know well. But there are also lots of typically multi-person activities that you certainly can do by yourself.
I do lots of solo travel, partially because I'm often traveling solo on business. I find a lot of people cant conceive of heading off by themselves for a weekend or longer, especially in a foreign country.
For example, for the same question "What, you don't want to go to the Nicki Minaj concert?"
An introverted response might be "Hey I really like that kind of music - I just don't want to go with a bunch of people I don't know that well, having to coordinate rides, having idle chit chat, etc. So I'll probably go on my own, and if I run into you guys, that's great. But if I don't run into you guys, hope you have a good time there."
In no way does being introverted mean "staying at home and read a book" or not enjoying life, etc.
And the rock climbing example, why couldn't you rock climb on your own? That seems like a stupid question, but my first instinct as an introvert would just be to go tackle a big cliff on my own - cause I don't really want to meet a bunch of macho folks that I don't know - you know, people do climb K2 on their own, even though it's dangerous, it makes the accomplishment even more intense.
I've done 60 km-100km bike rides in the dark, in the middle of the night, on my own - just so I don't have to talk to people - so I kinda know what it feels like.
He's just saying that some people may be introverts, with a certain type of personality, and that's it. There's nothing wrong with being a type.
That's apparently the real topic of this discussion: whether there's something "wrong" with being an introvert. That's why people are arguing in favor of defining introversion in purely neutral or even purely positive terms, and that's the motivation of the link posted and its source. It's an attempt to paint introversion as a perfectly unproblematic state of being for the introvert. The only people who see a problem with it are extroverts, who just don't get it.
Anything that one-sided is only good for propaganda or cheerleading. If we're going to talk about types and stereotypes, why not be balanced? Why not see things in terms of strengths and weaknesses? There are downsides to introversion, even for the introvert (unless you define away those downsides by changing the meaning of the word.) At some point the introvert will wish he could thrive on the company of others, if only for practical reasons such as the ones I described above. At some point the extrovert, too, will wish he could thrive without the company of others. Pity the extrovert who has to stay home in a quiet house for two weeks tending a sick child! Our "type" or "tendency" or "preference" can be a very inconvenient thing when it conflicts with what we want or need to do.
The problem with strengths and weaknesses is weakness, of course. Nobody wants to admit to it.
This whole "*-trovert" obsession drives people away from understanding conversation because they try to categorize it solely as 'necessary' and 'unnecessary'. What sort of life is it when things are solely necessary or unnecessary?
Personally I don't think the average introvert is rude. I think that not because I redefine what "rude" means, but simply because on average introverts are polite people just like extroverts. Sure, there are socially maladjusted introverts who think that communicative efficiency scales with bluntness. (Hint: making someone feel insulted or defensive is likely to slow you down a lot more than the taking the effort to word criticism cautiously.) Just like there are extroverts that think it's ok to shout someone down or make fun of them until the acquiesce to whatever the extrovert wants. But I don't know that rudeness is more common in either of intro- or extroverts.
I ended a relationship recently, partly because we had huge communication issues. Her thoughts were always close to the surface, I tended to think about things for hours before finding the courage or words to express ideas that were important to me. When I finally managed to say out loud what I'd been mulling over, she didn't always take me very seriously or even let me finish my thought before jumping in with hers. This of course made it even harder to open up to her again. I tried earnestly to explain to her that I needed quiet time daily to process my thoughts and that interruptions were lethal to my ability to communicate. In the end she never seemed to accept that this was a fundamental part of my personality and not some excuse I was giving her. Often she would make sarcastic comments like "Have you had enough quiet time today?" These relatively innocuous comments hurt me more than most of our arguments, simply because it communicated to me that she truly didn't understand me or what I needed to be happy. Maybe we could have established that communication, but the relationship had gone on too long for that kind of refactoring.
After the relationship ended, I suddenly had ten times the social energy. I thought I was burnt out of performing comedy, but suddenly had more then enough energy. I took the time to study social skills and took a hard look at my life and my emotional state. It became clear to me that being introverted had closed me off to not only her, but to all my friends and even family. I realized that my closest friends actually made me LESS social, simply because of the attitudes they held towards meeting new people and society in general.
So I started cutting them out of my life. I began a new effort of being more social. I limited my "deep thought introverted" time to when I was actually alone. When I was socializing, I made sure that I extroverted the entire time. If I felt the urge to check my phone or zone out of the conversation, I recognized that my energy had run out, excused myself and left. I made new friends who viewed me as a social, outgoing person. Their expectations of me helped my momentum. I forced myself to be open with people. I ignored my tendency to withhold personal information, embarrassing stories, or questions that might make me look stupid. I started bantering more with coworkers that I hadn't been close to before. I started reinforcing the believe that I shouldn't feel the need to hide anything about myself.
I was a little confused by the new amounts of social energy I had. My girlfriend had taken up a lot of my time, but after our breakup, I was able to maintain a schedule with at least twice the social hours as previously. Where was I getting all this energy? I realized that what was draining me wasn't being social, it was being uncomfortable. It was the awkward situations, not social situations in general, that were sapping my energy. I couldn't tell the difference because I was in a situation where 90% of my social interactions were uncomfortable for one reason or another. In my relationship, I was constantly worried about giving her the time she wanted to spend with me while giving my time to process my thoughts and work on projects. In general, I was always trying to follow a train of thought in my head, even when out with friends, or in a meeting, or in a friendly conversation, instead of being present and happy to interact with someone else.
The biggest benefit to this change in my life has been the increased sensitivity to my own emotional state, including how much control I had over my own happiness at any given time by means of my own posture, facial expression and state of mind. I realized that just wearing a stupid grin on my face made my happier than any of my academic or professional accomplishments. It was as if my introversion had muted me to my own emotional state. I began to recognize that humans are essentially emotional antennas. Evolution has conditioned us to subcommunicate volumes of information to each other. The emotional state of a person is broadcast and received by everyone around them. Extroverts are much more sensitive to this than introverts. Suddenly I realized why smalltalk, politeness, and so many other things I had never given much value were so important. Other people felt the effects of these things a hundred times more than I had. And they couldn't help it anymore than I could help being introverted.
The reverse of this is also true, by learning to recognize this, I began to pick up much more how other people were feeling. Connecting with people and making them happy begin to give me as much satisfaction as I've ever had from programming or making something work. I'm beginning to reconsider whether technical work is good for my emotional state, or if I am even cut out to be happy while doing it.
Am I truly an introvert? Yes, I still believe I am pretty strongly introverted by nature. Do I think all introverts are closed off? No. I think most introverts, even those more introverted than me, are more successful than I was at maintaining at least a few close friendships. I do believe that learning how to be comfortable in ones own skin is critical to being a happy person. I certainly didn't give this problem nearly as much attention as I should have. If you take anything away from this, I hope that you will consider if you should be giving it more attention in your life as well.
That sounds the like the response someone would make after hearing "I just need a bit of times to myself" quite often.
That said, there are many different styles of programmer and developer, and there are indeed some types which require lots of regular social interaction. I guess for me there has always been a feeling that programming alienates those who have a deep understanding of the subject from those who don't. I think this is because of the unique mindset required to understand how a computer really works at the low level. As a programmer I can break situations and problems down to variables, data types, logical expressions and conditions. Non-programmers are probably perfectly capable of solving the same problem, but as programmers we often approach such problems in a very specific way.
I would definitely count myself an an introvert, prettymuch exactly as described by the article. Social situations feel awkward and draining, while I am most comfortable in a peaceful and solitary environment. Despite this I still long for meaningful social connections with other people, I just struggle to relate to other people whose interests differ so greatly from my own.
And it's a great point about how your friends' attitudes were unexpectedly contributing to your lack of energy for socialization. Over the last several years I've made it a point to spend most of my time with the friends who help me stay in the right frame of mine, instead of the ones who [unintentionally] infect me with their own negativity about new situations. And I find I'm much happier as a result!
Prior to that quote, you mention studying social skills. You also mention cutting old friends out of your life. Which path had a more drastic affect on you? Was it learning new social skills that made you realize you needed different friends, or did the desire for new friends force you to learn new social skills.
How did you go about learning these new skills?
I read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I read Introvert Advantage, both of which were informative. But mostly I watched a lot of videos by Lance Mason. He has a background as an engineer, so he was able to express social concepts in a way that made a lot of sense to me.
The introvert-extrovert axis is a great tool for understanding behavior, but don't just assume that every angle of your personality arises from where you are on that spectrum.
Introvertedness and extrovertedness are different directions on a scale, not absolute points. Introvertedness covers a far milder set of characteristics than those described here.
What the author describes is an extremity of the spectrum and characteristics more usually associated with Asberger or High functioning Autism.
My first job out of collage was with a Big 6 accounting firm as a IT consultant. As part of training, we took the Myers-Briggs test (which places you on the Introvert/Extravert spectrum) and spent an entire day discussing the results. The message of the day was any of the different personality types can thrive and people should be aware of other's personality styles and taylor their interactions given what they know about themselves and what they know about the people they are interacting with. This was/is an important lesson and has been helpful in my career.
They ended the day with a set of two slides that broke down the population of the firm as a whole and the population of the partners in the firm. 80% of the firm were extraverts and >95% of the partners where extraverts. So the other lesson I learned that day, was that if you want to be in a sales-y leadership position, you better learn to behave like an extravert.
I'm squarely in the middle myself, I enjoy being by myself for periods of time working on my own stuff but after a while I need to socialize, and when I've socialized I need some me-time again :)
I just hope people think they're introverted because they lack social skills, being uncomfortable and not enjoying certain social situations doesn't mean one is introverted it only means one has to improve one's social skills.
They're like any skill, something you learn by experience and practice. Perhaps the reason that people think many computer-oriented people are introverted is because they choose to spend time in front of their computer instead of interacting with people (irl) and therefore don't develop their social skills as much.
I play in bands too though, and get a serious, addictive rush from making noise and performing for a lot of people. And I genuinely like people and making friends, but I don't really feel like I'm sharing "me" in a meaningful way unless it's one-on-one or with a very small group. Parties sap my energy, but I go to them because I get to interact with so many people. The only point I take issue with is #9, because I definitely have a thrill-seeking, adrenaline-junkie streak.
There's no script.
P.S. being a shy introvert sucks.
P.s. many introverts loathe themselves
EDIT: I meant American culture, as several people have pointed out other cultures are somewhat different about this.
* There are no agreed upon definitions of the terms
* Just bringing up the terms can derail conversations and turn them into debate on what the words really mean (e.g., like what is happening in this thread)
* The terms cram too many sub-concepts into one
* False dichotomy
* Tends to ignore context (i.e., people act differently in different situations)
* Associated with a bitter Us vs. Them mentality
* The terms can make people feel defensive and closed off
* The words can be self-limiting labels
Full post: http://www.succeedsocially.com/introversion
This seems surprisingly simplistic. Is there actually any serious science to back this?
The most interesting paper I've found is this one from 1990 called The Biological Bases of extraversion: psychophysiological evidence ; which discusses a hypothesis by Sybil Eysenck from 1969.
Essentially, extraversion and introversion are first observed to be personality traits that can be passed genetically. Eysenck's hypothesis was that introverts were more sensitive to stimulation in the reticular activating system. Attempts to confirm this hypothesis have met with mixed success. Eysanck also came up with a personality inventory, similar to the popular MBTI and the "Big Five" inventory used by psychologists.
I haven't yet found anything particularly solid that confirms the connection between those physiological traits and the personality as defined by the Eysanck Questionnaire. Every other paper I have found so far begins by using the Eysanck Questionnaire to sort people into Introverts and Extraverts and does some other tests.
Labels among humans have subtler distinctions behind them, but when people fall in useful clusters, labels can be useful if you bear in mind that they're necessarily fuzzy concepts. My gender is male, I have a fairly nerdy personality, I enjoy hiking and various such outdoor activities -- surely these are potentially useful things to know about me, even if they are not perfect descriptions of me, and do not define my identity.
Labels aren't bad; just too often misused.
A few famous examples: Michael Stipe of R.E.M., George Harrison of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix.
Yeah, they got left off the Myers-Briggs scale. Everyone is either a hermit, or dances on tables after half a cup of coffee.
More modern psychological metrics rate people on an introvertedness (or extrovertedness) scale, which is more or less normally distributed. But Myers-Briggs (which is roughly as old as the belief that you can electroshock queers straight) and crappy pop-psychology tests in women's magazines (and facebook) persist in categorizing everyone into two bins.
Big 5 (a more modern categorization) is a much better descriptive framework. The factors are introvertedness, openness (or curiosity), conscientious (hard workingness), agreeableness, and neuroticism (the tendency to react to negative emotions). Note how they are all factors, not categories? You don't put normal people into bins.
It's a scientific paper so the reading is going to be 'heavy' but if you skip down to page 198 (it's out of a larger journal, actually closer to about 5 or 10 pages in) you'll see that they graph some of the major traits.
- East Asians are generally introverted while everyone else is pretty much 'flat'
- East Asia is also the least "Agreeable" while Africa is the most.
- EA is the least Consientious, while Africa is the most.
- South America is the most open to new experiences while East Asia is the most conservative and resistant to change.
- EA is the most Neurotic, while Africa is the least.
I'm sure there's a lot more in there that's neat in there, but I only did a quick glance.
For a more 'high level' explanation of what the aspects of the big five are: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits is a fine overview, and you can actually do your very own personality inventory online http://www.personalitytest.org.uk/ seems good with a 41 item test, but you can also try some larger ones out there - I've done some 100 item tests online.
Type-A personalities aren't Type-A personalities.
Labels like Introvert are nice and neat, but unfortunately not very realistic.
A couple commenters have suggested that instead of wholly embracing these practices—especially the ones about being rude to people—it's advantageous, for job purposes, to meet women, to learn to at least put up with talking to other people. To be honest it's been kind of entertaining to hear from introverts who view the great extroverted mob like an enemy camp, to be infiltrated—at great personal expense, but to great personal reward—by learning to mimic their ways.
I want to suggest that it's possible to actually learn to enjoy being social and meeting people. You know, for its own sake. While it's true that eventually one will find that they might need to make relationships with other people so they can do camping trips and get laid and such, I have found that actually humanizing people, rather than treating them as ends to means, is more satisfying and healthy in the long run. Further, while it's nice to try to maintain a few close relationships, I think it's more satisfying and healthy to learn to get beyond a simplistic superficial/real binary with your human relationships—and by extension, with other people.
There are lots of ways to be introverted without seeing nearly the whole raft of humanity as psychic vampires, or insensitive extroverts, or simply resource repositories that you need to interact with. If you treat a work relationship or a bank teller with this attitude of, 'I'm not interested in superficial small talk. You only exist to me for the purposes of sending and receiving information or resources', you will not ONLY be alone when you want to go camping, but you will also be spiritually and emotionally impoverished.
The good news is, it IS possible to learn to enjoy talking with other people, even if it's ultimately tiring. I mean, most things in life are tiring. That's the nature of energy—we spend it on doing things. But you can be mindful of your energy level (and I might suggest, blood sugar) without having to abstain from all human contact. In fact, you can even enjoy human contact. The last 8 or so years of my life has been in a large part about learning to enjoy human contact—and I've learned to enjoy it by learning to be _good_ at it. I am now, I am glad to say, a pretty charming guy. I tell good stories, I meet people well, I dress well, I make a good impression. This means that I don't have trouble meeting women or finding partners for the activities that I like, but it also means that I derive actual satisfaction from the practice of social skills. I like exercising my expertise, like most people, and I like the rewards I get—social reinforcement, positive feedback, that sort of thing. And I think that's been the key for me. I didn't decide to embark on a project of self-improvement and socialization because it was necessary for my eventual professional success. I learned to get off on doing a good job at social behavior. Introvert or not, it still _feels good_ to be a charming, likeable person. It just means I take a nap afterwards.
It's also a mistake to believe that extroverts have a large circle of loose friendships and that's it. This can't be further from the truth - everyone has close friends, and much looser acquaintances. It's one of the more annoying aspects of the "introverts are people too" movement - the constant need to put-down extroverts and the persistent claim that extroverts' relationships are predominantly shallow.