Introverts – common questions

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There are many misunderstandings and myths about being introverted. The following are the most common questions about introverts asked during my research, as well as my answers. If you have more questions about introverts, or questions for introverts, please let me know. I would love to answer them on this page, or discuss them on Activate Your Introvert.

If you are an introvert feeling uncomfortable at times and want to improve your performance in business, you might like coaching for introverts

If you manage a team and want to get more from your whole team, including the introverts, you may like to understand the introvert productivity gap and how to close it.

What is an introvert?

Typically introverts:

  • feel de-energised when spending time with a number of people and energised spending time on their own. Typically an extravert is the opposite.
  • Also a typical Introvert processes their thoughts internally.

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Click here to watch a short YouTube video on the subject

What is the difference between shy and introverted?

Shy and being introverted are not the same thing, although to many people they may appear to be the same. It’s one of the most common myths and questions for introverts. Introverts are normally happy to spend time alone and may get (emotionally) drained after spending a lot of time with others (sp. work or non-close friends). A shy person doesn’t necessarily want to be alone but is anxious/ afraid to interact with others. An introvert may ALSO be shy; but not all introverts are, many introverts have excellent social skills, when they choose to use them and be with people. Introverts can learn tactics so social situations are easier for them, but they will always be introverts. The difference between being shy and introverted may be as simple as whether you can choose to be social without anxiety. A common issue identified in my survey (have you taken the survey?) is that even many extroverts feel less comfortable networking in large groups where they didn’t know many people.

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Why don't introverts like small talk?

Most introverts don’t enjoy small talk (but then there are extroverts who don’t enjoy it either). There are many cited reasons, starting with, “Introverts prefer deeper conversation, normally with a few select friends.”, “It’s fake”, “It get’s in the way of real conversation”. 

Maybe it’s people energy and internal processing, meaning introverts are not likely to feel as comfortable.

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What is an introvert personality?

The introvert personality is identified in many personality theories. An introvert tends to be happy to spend time on their own, (emotionally) drained after spending a lot of time with others (specially work or non-close friends). somebody who will process their thoughts internally not externally and focus on internal thoughts and feelings rather than wanting external stimulation. You may also like to read “What is an introvert” for more details.

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Are introverts antisocial?

No, introverts are not antisocial. It may sometimes appear like this as they can feel de-energised when spending time with people, which could lead them to avoiding social situations. However,  introverts do enjoy socialising.  People with an introvert personality are often more sensitive to social cues than extroverts. Introverts are typically more empathic and interpersonally connected than more extroverted people. Introverts tend to prefer more intimate relationships than being in larger groups and conforming group norms. Groups will normally leave introverts feeling tired or emotionally drained. You might like to read 9 points to help understand introverts

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I don’t like public speaking, does that make me an introvert?

​​No it doesn’t glossophobia is something else altogether. Many introverts love being on stage and some of the best public speakers I know are introverts. In fact, because introverts tend to focus on preparation and thinking things through, they may make better speakers. Being fearful of public speaking is a behaviour, so you can learn to deal with it. Taking it a step further many well-known actors identify as introverts, yet they love being on stage.

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Do introverts dislike being around people?

​​​No. They enjoy (and possibly need) solitude more than more extroverted people, they enjoy being around people in a different way. If your  dislike of being around people is based in fear or anxiety that’s something other than being introverted. 

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Do introverts socialise?

Yes, of course! Introverts enjoy spending time with people as much as extroverts and they are good friends to those they care about. What confuses people and causes this question is that introverts are drained by human interaction, while extroverts are energized by it. If you knew you’d be drained of energy, you might choose which social interaction you went for! If you have overdone the interaction you might suffer from an introvert hangover (click to read more – and how to cure them)

Are introverts more aloof?

​No, although many people think they are. This assumption is because introverts prefer communicating with few people in greater depth, and their (stereotypical) dislike of small talk with a group of people. This can make networking in groups harder for introverts, but there are many tactics to help with this as introverts can make exceptional networkers. Some introverts may come across as aloof as they know their preferences and are not bothered by what others think of them.

What’s all this about energy levels and introversion?

Most introverts relate to being drained of energy by interaction with groups of people and regain that energy by being on their own. This is different to most extroverts who are energised by interaction with others. Jungian psychology views extroverts as oriented to the outside world, and introverts more focused on their inner world. Not many people are one extreme, or the other, and the situation can make a difference as well (family or private groups, v public open groups). There is a scientific basis for the energy issue, as introverts have an increased sensitivity to dopamine.

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I’m an introvert, so I can’t present to others.

Actually, you may make a better presenter than many extroverts. Introverts are often more meticulous in their preparation, research and thinking things through than extroverts. That could give you a great advantage when presenting. Writing something the audience want and appreciate is a large part of being a great presenter.

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Are introverts more negative than extroverts?

No. Introverts may gain energy and motivation by being on their own, this is different to being negative. An extrovert typically doesn’t like being on their own, so we don’t tend to see them when they are less energised/ negative. The myth about introverts being negative is strengthened by the extroverts who don’t like being on their own, assuming that when other people are on their own they must be unhappy.

Are introverts more likely to be depressed?

​There’s no direct link between introversion and depression. This belief may be caused by extroverts who don’t like being on their own, feeling sad when alone, assuming that when people are on their own they must feel the same – and that on your own more must be more than sad. Introverts do tend to spend more time thinking things through and if this is done to excess it could lead towards depression. As an introvert it’s wise to note when you’re being on your own and thinking inwardly too much and having a strategy to do something more positive.

How can I tell if somebody is introverted, or extroverted?

It’s a lot harder than most people think. A preference for spending time alone to recharge the batteries, is not the same as saying one can’t talk the hind legs off a donkey in a social situation. The difference comes after the social event, with the way the introvert acts when they leave that social situation. Introverts do like socialising, but differently to extroverts. You may like to read “What is an introvert”

Are introverts timid?

Like the term shyness, there is a difference between timid and introverted. Because a person is willing to sit quietly, and listen doesn’t mean they are timid. In fact, being good at sitting and listening is often a strength for a business leader. Timid means easily frightened, or lacking courage. Most introverts are not fearful of situations, they simply know what motivates them and what doesn’t. They may choose, or not, to be involved in social situations.

What's the connection between Introversion, extroverts and narcissism?

An extravert is energised when spending time with people, where the introvert bleeds energy and is happy on their own. Extraverts don’t understand introversion. An extravert will assume that company (especially theirs) is always better than no company.

There is a scale of introvert/ extraversion, few people are one extreme or the other. The more extravert somebody is the less they can imagine why someone would need to be alone. In (rare) moments of self-reflection most extraverts I’ve asked think the very idea is invented, even after explanation!

That’s before discussing a trait, often linked with high extraversion, narcissism!

An extravert is no more a narcissist than all introverts are shy. However, many people assume they’re linked as narcissists crave recognition and admiration, which some see as part of extraversion. Narcissists also tend to assertive (bordering on aggressive?) in promoting their own interests (note: their interests, often not the same as the business interests).

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Do introverts lack social skills?

introversion is not a lack of social skills, it is an inclination toward solitude. Introverts are no more (or less) likely to lack social skills that anybody else. Social anxiety is a separate issues and says nothing about social skills. Even great socialisers often have social anxiety.

Questions to ask an introvert.

Some people have asked me about “questions to ask an introvert” and “questions for introverts and extroverts” their aim has been to better engage an others in discussion. If you wonder “how to engage introverts in conversation” you’ll find more answers here. In short asking for their help, showing the structure and purpose to the discussion is more likely to help than working through a list of “small talk” questions. If you know the person and some of the things important to them, base your questions around that. Introverts tend not to like unstructured smalltalk.

How to engage introverts in conversation  

Introversial meaning

What’s the meaning of the word “Introversial”? I’ll be honest and say I thought I had made it up as a name for my introvert discussion forum and weekly leadership briefing. In my head it blended introvert and controversial, a chance for small groups of us to discuss some of the things that people misunderstand about introversion, Later I discovered it exists in some other places on the internet, with similar meaning (except they don’t connect to a regular discussion forum for introverts).

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