Extroverts Versus Introverts: Why Understanding the Difference is Important
When I started college, one of the first things we did in the College of Business at Butler University was take a personality test. Specifically, we took the Myers-Briggs test (which is also available on my Personality page!). In this test, students are analyzed in four areas, Extroversion vs. Introversion, Sensing vs. Intuition, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. Once students have finished the test, they are categorized by one of each of the personality areas. For example, I am an ENFJ and have been throughout most of my life. While all of these are important, I find that a lot of the controversy in life comes between extroverts versus introverts.
There are common misconceptions on both sides, which need to be done away with completely. For example, I’ve heard that all “extroverts are loud and aggressive.” This is not the case. On the other hand, I’ve also heard that “introverts are shy and don’t like people.” This is simply NOT true. Extroverts and introverts simply derive their energy from different places. Extroverts are expressive – they like to get their energy from other people; introverts get their energy internally – they internalize emotions and feelings.
Extroverts Versus Introverts
I recently read this amazing blog post on Wired about the Top 10 Myths About Introverts. 3 of the myths peaked my interest, and I’d like to come to the defense for both sides:
Myth #1: Introverts don’t like to talk.
Simply not true. Like I mentioned earlier, introverts get their energy internally, but this doesn’t mean they don’t like talk. The difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts like to talk about things that are important to them, while extroverts find value in small talk and social conversation as well. There is nothing wrong with either of these things! Sometimes, introverts like to take in the scenery around them, then comment on the situation later to a close friend. Extroverts will more than likely be the life of the party – they like talking to a lot of different people about a lot a different things, but at the end of the day, they crave meaningful conversations as well.
Myth #2: Introverts don’t like people.
This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Who doesn’t have friends or people that they care about in their lives (besides serial killers)? No one. Absolutely no one. Introverts keep to a close knit group of friends, while extroverts have that group and then many acquaintances. Extroverts and introverts find value in different things – in this case, extroverts feel valued by being able to be sociable with many different types of people on different levels of comfortability. If an extrovert was at a bar, chances are, they will say hi to a lot of people that they know and make small talk. Introverts find value in the close relationships they develop with friends – they want to talk about things that are important to them with a close group. Just because I, as an extrovert, like to have acquaintances doesn’t make my relationships with close friends any less important – I just find value in talking with different people that I may not know!
Myth #3: Introverts can fix themselves and become extroverts.
Are you kidding me? While there are some that make the transition (by choice, I might add), there is NOTHING wrong with being an introvert. I love having friends who are introverts – I always know that my conversations with them will be meaningful. This doesn’t mean that my conversations with extroverts aren’t; I love my extrovert friends, who I always have fun with and can let loose. Furthermore, extroverts will also be more vocal about giving me their honest opinion. I find value in both groups of people, as an extrovert myself.
Bottom line is that it’s important to see the value in both. Do you pick your friends based on whether or not they are introverts or extroverts? I don’t think so. Just because one talks more than the other does not mean it’s a bad thing. If you had a whole group of friends that were extroverts, don’t you think it would be hard to get a word in? And on the other side, a whole group of introverts? We choose our friends for similarities and differences.
Appreciate the differences and the similarities! Be aware of how each handle different situations. This will strengthen your relationships instead of hindering them. It shouldn’t be extroverts versus introverts. We truly should be working together.
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