What is an introvert? It’s something that many people don’t fully understand and others get wrong. Introverts feel de-energised when spending time with a number of people and will feel energised spending time on their own. Typically an extravert is the opposite.
Also a typical Introvert processes their thoughts internally. In English that is they’re more likely to think quietly before they talk and get their thoughts straight first. An extrovert is more likely to be the other way round, often talking before thinking (or using the talking process to understand their thoughts).
3 key points about introverts.
Typically an introvert will feel as if they lose energy in a group. The larger the group, or the less they know people in the group, the faster the energy loss. This will often mean that introverts want to “leave the party” earlier, or find large meetings far more tiring than extroverts.
Introverts typically process their thoughts internally (more likely to think quietly before they talk). An extrovert is more likely to be the other way round (may talk before they think). This can cause misunderstanding or tension between people in a business (or at home).
Introverts are more sensitive to dopamine and may get socially tired earlier than less sensitive extraverts, as sensory inputs (noise, people, lights) lead to overstimulation. Click to read the paper by Fishman, Ng and Bellugi “Do extraverts process social stimuli differently from introverts?”
What introvert does NOT mean
- Shy: Being shy is not the same thing as being an introvert. An introvert may have a preference for not speaking / interacting in a group of people (they’ll lose energy in doing so). A shy person will lack confidence, feel fearful or worse when asked to interact in the group of people. It is possible to be a shy extrovert!
- It’s not an absolute: There is a scale of strongly introvert, to strongly extrovert, so it’s not an absolute label. Some people will be more strongly introverted than others. This may lead to the statement that some people (presumably in between the two) are introvert extroverts, or ambiverts.
- Introverts are not anti-social: Introverts will, typically, prefer small groups to larger and closer friends to people they don’t really know. That doesn’t mean they’re anti-social, they have a preference for socialising differently to extroverts.
Now you know the answer to “what is an introvert“, what next?
What is an introvert – a definition
Activate Your Introvert is a weekly radio show on issues surrounding introversion in business, to help leaders get more from their firms. This episode explores “what is an introvert”.