You are probably familiar with the terms “introvert” and “extrovert,” and you may even identify yourself as one or the other, but sometimes people are not aware of the actual meaning of each.
Introvert, Extrovert and Ambivert Definitions
According to Meyers & Briggs, the terms introversion and extroversion were originally coined by the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, to describe the way in which a person finds energy. Extroverts tend to recharge by looking outside of themselves, with other people and external activities, while introverts tend to recharge within themselves, through their thoughts and time spent alone.
People experience moments of both extroversion and introversion, but have a tendency to lean towards one or the other. You could also be somewhere in-between, a term known as an ambivert.
According to an article in the Washington Post, the term ambivert was first used by social scientists in the 1920’s to describe someone who is neither exceptionally introverted nor exceptionally extroverted. The article describes the majority of people as ambiverts.
Misunderstandings in Communication
Communication between introverts and extroverts can sometimes lead to misunderstandings. For example, introverts are commonly seen as shy simply because they are quiet. The reality is that introverts may just be thinking to themselves and are content being quiet. Shyness, on the other hand, is an apprehensive feeling. A shy person does not want to be quiet. Of course, a person can be both introverted and shy, but the two are not synonymous with one another.
Improve Understanding and Interaction
Here are some things for introverts and extroverts to keep in mind when interacting with one another, inspired by an article from Psychology Today:
- Extroverts are more likely to multitask than introverts. Introverts prefer to focus on one project and devote more time to it.
- Introverts tend to spend more time planning and making decisions than extroverts.
- Introverts prefer meaningful discussions over small talk. Introverts should acknowledge that extroverts enjoy small talk.
- Although introverts recharge by being alone, they still enjoy socializing with people. Do not assume an introvert does not want to talk with you.
- If introverts are being quiet during a group discussion it does not mean that they are not paying attention or they have nothing to contribute. An introvert is more likely to take time to listen and process the information before speaking.
- Sometimes introverts will need to later process information they have taken in when they are alone.
- Ambiverts have both introverted and extroverted characteristics.
- None of these personality traits is best. Do not try to change someone who is introverted or extroverted. Keep an open mind so that you can comfortably and effectively interact with each other.
Knowing whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in-between can help you to understand your own reactions and others’ reactions to certain situations in life. Accept yourself and others, and appreciate the perspectives that both introverts and extroverts bring to the table.