Is being an introvert positive or negative? It’s an odd, but common question. There are many myths about introversion which show how many people see introversion negatively. The simple answer is that being an introvert is both positive, negative and neither.
It is important to accept being introverted (or not) and understand your skill set. A much better question is how does it facilitate/ block communication between people, and how can you be successful on your terms?
How is introvert negative?
There are many ways some people think negatively about introverts, specially if they believe the negative traits of introverts. Worse is when introverts believe these negative traits about themselves! If you accept a negative label and live down to it, you are doing yourself down. If you take the same label and use it as part of a quick diagnosis and then move beyond it – the label was useful.
The following are often cited as the negative point about introverts. Introverts:
- are weird or stand offish. It’s no more true for extroverts, but it hangs around. I believe it comes from the “people energy” thing, if you know you’re running low on energy you step back and that’s often taken as being stand offish.
- have a harder time standing out on social media. Interestingly “people energy” can be wiped out by social media in the same way as face to face; despite many people saying “social media is good for introverts”. In reality it’s about how you use the platform.
- can get overlooked. This can be a negative, if you let it. If so, it may lead you to being overlooked for promotion or for getting the next job; but it also happens to extroverts. The question is how are you using your network and letting others (including your boss) about what you’re looking for, without trying to show off and sound narcissistic? For networking tips click here, for ideas about staying top of the boss’ mind click here.
- struggle to expand their networks. Size isn’t everything, it’s how you use it! Is it better to have a few great people in your network who you regularly keep in touch with, or many people that who barely know you?
- are shy: No, introversion is not about being shy. If you want tips to be less shy, click here.
- lack confidence: It’s all about context. Introverts can be very confident in the things they know they’re good at. They might not shout enough about those skills. Developing social confidence, as an introvert.
- don’t make good leaders: This one crops up because many of our models of good leaders are loud extroverts who enjoy basking in the limelight and making things up as they go. Is that really what a good leader does? Bill Gates, Richard Branson and many others have shown great leadership abilities, yet remain introverted. We need to think carefully what “good leader” means.
These are not negative points about introverts, unless you choose to allow them to be problems
Positive traits of introverts
On asking over 200 people what they think are the positives of introversion, these are the most commonly cited. Some of the points are also true of some extroverts, and some introverts don’t display all these points.
- good listeners. We can all improve our listening skills, but more introverts are cited as a being good listeners that extroverts.
- think before they speak. Both introverts and extroverts can think clearly, although external processing can be harder to listen to, and being more reflective means introverts tend to think before speaking.
- thoughtful networkers: The general model of networking seems to be know many people and greet them loudly, successful networking involves more thought and focus.
- compassionate leaders: A leader focuses on vision, inspiring the team and is good at allowing the team to take credit. What else would you add to a definition of good leader?
This article didn’t set out to provide a definition of introversion, or talk about the extrovert bias in business, but in by highlighting many of perceived positives and negatives of introversion, it is all about the perceived introvert meaning.
Is introvert positive or negative?
Is introversion positive or negative? It’s both and neither. More importantly consider how we understand and communicate especially with those who have different communication preferences.
Being introverted does not mean you are deep or thoughtful (although many introverts are). Being an extravert does not make you a great leader or mean you have a big ego. Human personality is complex, we all need to get better at looking beyond any labels (which may have some uses, but have many drawbacks).
By understanding the individuals you can get the best out of them — and yourself.
What matters is not extraversion or introversion — but what we do with it. What will you do with your unique skills to help others do more with theirs?
- Toilet Rolls and Introversion: Strange combination maybe, but it's a true and personal story.
- Why do introverts hate small talk? Most introverts and some extraverts don't like it
- When it’s noisy introverts find it harder to concentrate. And some things to do about it
- Curing the introvert hangover. Go on, you've had one too!
Or listening to
In this episode of "Activate Your Introvert" I answer the common question - what is an introvert?