I’m an introvert and as the sign says...I’m not shy! I’ve been spending more time in introvert Facebook groups, blogs, and podcasts trying to see as a trained life coach how I can help introverts as well as continuing to clarify this for myself. And one of the things I’ve noticed is we don’t know what an introvert really is or what our particular brand of introvert looks like. We’ve identified with a label but surprisingly for a group that is often in our heads we don’t stop to figure out the intricacies and how this label actually fits us. Or not. We accept the label realizing we have figured something out, but do we go deeper? By just picking out a label do we help ourselves or do we limit ourselves.
I look at introversion/extroversion in terms of how energy is processed. Introvert’s first reaction to any stimulus is to first go inward, and extroverts to go outward. How long they stay there is determined by the individual. And this aspect can be regulated with learned skills so that the time frame can be shortened or lengthen depending on need. Because of this introverts may often take longer to respond to a stimulus and this is why we often find them quiet, reflective, not fond of small talk, and sensitive to the quantity of stimuli coming at them. You could say Don’t worry about walking a mile in my shoes, just try a day thinking in my shoes! I love that! Extroverts who naturally move outward first can be more spontaneous, reactive, and switch from stimuli to stimuli so fast it gives the illusion that they can do many things at once. They can be quite easy to be around too, if you are a people watcher you can be quietly entertained in the corner! Both have their strengths, it’s just the processing of the energy that is different.
This is where society and our labels fail us. When a society favors one side of the spectrum over the other, we loose human resources. When we accept a label but don’t figure out how it truly fits us, we loose human resources. In western society we favor the extrovert. Forcing anyone to work the same way that is best for some is never a great plan! We’ve lost sight of the fact that each individual has something to bring to the table. Maybe you have one person who is great at ideas, one who is good at finding out how that idea is really going to work (or not), one who is good at the execution of the idea, and one who is good at reevaluating and perfecting it. That’s 2 “introverts” and 2 “extroverts” and none of them are the same. However, if none of them have taken the time to know themselves or their strengths, if they are all trying to be the brilliant idea person, the rest doesn’t get done.
Like everything in the world this seemingly binary labeling is actually a spectrum and so I’m happy to also add the term ambivert. One who falls in the middle of these two terms sharing qualities of each. There are so many other stops along this spectrum! Most of us are in the middle somewhere! I encourage people to find your place on the spectrum. How do you process different stimuli? Find your strengths and step out of your comfort zone now and then. Be the best you that you can be and leave the binary thinking behind.