Which are you? The answer might surprise you.
By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Society understood introverts and extroverts simply. Those who were outgoing and comfortable in social situations were called extroverts. Those who were shy and reserved were deemed introverted. Interestingly, Carl Jung, who first talked about introverts and extroverts in the early 1900s, did not intend that people would be one or the other. He recognized it as a continuum.
During my childhood and early adulthood years, I identified myself as an introvert. It was not a description that I recognized approvingly because others led me to believe that this was not the best way to be. In my mid-adult years, I noticed that I was far more comfortable with people – 1:1 or in groups. I wasn’t certain why this changed, but I recognized that I was not the same person I had been. I began to consider myself more an extrovert and was pleased with the change since societal belief, along with my own discomfort, had led me to believe that extroverts were the proper way to be. How sad that this judgment of introverts/extroverts seems to have habitually continued to this day.
Is any part of my story like yours?
A new recognition of myself has emerged in recent years. I wonder, do you note this familiarity? I still find myself loving the company of others, but I often feel a great need to be alone. It all made sense a few years ago when I read a new (not exactly new, it was what Jung was saying all along) description of introverts and extroverts. The terms introvert and extrovert don’t describe your comfort level or involvement with others, but rather your method for recharging your mind and spirit. Introverts recharge alone, extroverts recharge with other people. With that in mind, how would you describe yourself? Do you want or need quiet after a stressful experience? When you have been with a crowd of people, do you crave solitude or silence? Do you desire the companionship of others to re-energize?
Are you a Sensitive? If you are, then you receive substantial input through visual, auditory, tactile, smell, and emotions during everyday activities. What that means is that it’s common for you to need ‘downtime’, therefore appearing like an introvert. This is not a bad or good thing, but it is important to know if this is who you are. When you are aware of your needs you will have less judgment about your actions. When you release these judgments, you can accept your true self and provide adequate self-care since you will no longer be fighting against your truest inclinations. Self-care means that you realize when you need to take downtime. Plan for it and don’t be embarrassed by it. Accept it.
As youths, introverts can seem invisible and therefore overlooked, or appear weak, and thus become vulnerable to bullying. Introverts reflect on new information at length and react relatively slowly. Extroverts are geared more for action, so they reflect and react at nearly the same time. This difference may lead introverts to be judged, or judge themselves, for not responding quickly enough. Extroverts often have a higher activity level, and their quicker processing and willingness to volunteer may make them stand out socially and academically.
As a result, in the workplace, extroverts are more likely to volunteer for multiple committees, be more social, and take on leadership roles. They may overpower certain clients or colleagues who try to keep things “strictly business”, and they can burnout due to over commitment. Introverts often prefer to work in solitude and can get angry if interrupted. They may wait for an assignment to be refused by others before stepping up. In leadership positions, introverts can utilize their impressive concentration and problem-solving skills, providing detailed, well thought-out plans. They make good diplomats since they are observing from a distance and can remain emotionally uninvolved.
It is important to realize that neither introvert nor extrovert is better than the other. Know who you are and honor your temperament. Recognize, understand, accept and support who you are to experience a greater sense of peace in your life.
- Respect their privacy
- Privately reprimand or teach new skills
- Let them observe new situations
- Provide thinking time and don’t interrupt
- Offer transition time and notifications
- Encourage one similar best friend and don’t force more
- Don’t try to make them an extrovert
CARING FOR EXTROVERTS:
- Respect their independence
- Compliment publicly
- Accept and encourage enthusiasm
- Understand when they are busy
- Let them dive right in
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.