Shyness vs. Introverted
I need to clear something up.
Being an introvert does not necessarily mean you are shy. Even though many dictionaries might state this.. (example Cambridge Online Dictionary)
Shyness indicates a fear of people or social situations. Introverts, on the other hand, simply do not like to spend lots of time interacting with other people.
Introverts do appreciate being around people to whom they are close and can be very engaging in close, one-one conversations. Small talk can be seen as tedious as it means they are exerting energy without connecting.
Introverts will also want to think about something before they offer their viewpoint and this may be seen as being shy in some scenarios. But that is not the case, it is merely the time needed to formulate a connected and meaningful response.
Defining an Introvert
I use the term introvert as defined by Carl Jung's psychological use of the term when he researched personality traits.
You may have come across Jung's work by taking the well known Myers-Briggs personality test. This test takes you through a series of questions that pinpoint where you sit on 4 personality scales.
The first pair of psychological preferences in the test looks at Extroversion and Introversion.
Where do you put your attention and get your energy?
- Do you like to spend most of your time in the outer world of people and things (Extroversion)
- Or do you prefer to spend most of your time in your inner world of ideas and images (Introversion)?
People who are introverted tend to be inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.
Remember: Introversion exists on a continuum with extroversion, and most people tend to lie somewhere between the two.
A commonly heard middle ground term heard "Ambivert", used by those that sit centrally on the spectrum. However an Ambivert is not actually a defining term in itself as we all enjoy spending time with others and spending time alone, depending on the situation and their needs at the moment, it's just a matter of how much. Extroverts need time out too. The only exception would be if you classify as a hermit!
7 Signs You're an Introvert
Don't assume you can guess the introverts around you... as even someone who may seem like a social butterfly at a party can be an introvert - I know, as I am that person. I enjoy meeting people and making new connections, but afterwards I really need to withdraw completely to recover. I call myself a sociable introvert to underline that introverts are not all shy, sure some are, and that's okay if that is you too.
The following are just a few signs that you might be an introvert...
- 1Being around too many people drains your energy. Do you feel exhausted after spending time in large group situations? After a day interacting, you need to retreat to a quiet place and have extended time by yourself? This is a key indicator as introverts EXPEND energy in social situations whereas Extroverts GAIN energy in the same scenario. Again, this does not mean you avoid events altogether, it just means you approach the event differently to an extrovert. The Extrovert may want to talk to as many people as possible, but the introvert is happier connecting with just a few select people. If you find yourself retreating into your shell after big events, there is a pretty big chance you are an introvert.
- 2You enjoy solitude. Being alone builds your energy, you love reading a book and being in your own space. However, this does not mean that you want to live like a hermit and see no-one. You enjoy time with close friends and good conversation.
- 3You have a small group of close friends. Instead of having a large circle of people they know superficially, introverts have a small close circle of friends which are deep, long-lasting relationships. Introverts prefer to interact with people one-on-one than in a large group setting. If your social circle tends to be small and close, there's a pretty good chance you are an introvert.
- 4Too much stimulation leaves you feeling distracted and unfocused. When introverts have to spend time in hectic environments, they can end up feeling overwhelmed. Extroverts thrive in busy environments as there is never a chance to get bored. Many studies show that introverts prefer quite private offices to the open plan office space that favours the extrovert. If this is you, that is another good indication you are an introvert.
- 5You are drawn to jobs that involve independence. This will not come as a surprise having read the above points, but jobs that need lots of social interaction generally do not appeal to introverts as their energy drains too fast. Being independent, where you get to control your diary is by far a better choice. Working as an entrepreneur from your home office or studio is a great choice for an introvert.
- 6You are very self-aware. Because introverts tend to be inward-turning, they also spend a lot of time examining their own internal experiences. Self-awareness and self-understanding is important to introverts, to understand the deeper meaning of their actions. Many introverts are found in the study of Psychology and Sociology for this reason. If you enjoy gaining deep-knowledge about yourself, this is another sign that you could well be an introvert.
- 7You like to learn by watching. Extroverts prefer to jump right in and learn by doing, whereas introverts typically prefer to learn through observation. Introverts like to practice in private first, to build their skills and abilities without having to perform for an audience. Once they are confident, there is no stopping them however. I see this especially in the case of speaking on stage, or going live on Social Media. There is strong reticence at the start, but once the technology is handled, introverts fly as they are so solid with their talents that they share. Because if they weren't, they would talk about it in the first place!
Being an Introvert
If you are an introvert, finding ways to cope when the stimulation from the outside world becomes too much is imperative to avoid burn-out and overwhelm.
Seek out a quiet moment where you can get away from overwhelming noises and recharge.
In the working day as an introvert entrepreneur, knowing when to say NO! and set boundaries to your outward time is very important to avoid burnout.
Nothing is Black and White!
Introversion is not an all or nothing characteristic, and no one type is better than another. The purpose of classification helps us manage our energy and time to suit our personality. We can learn how to cope with the external stimulation and distractions and build in recovery time to your working week after big events will keep you healthier and happier in the long term.
As an introvert in business, you can then set up your business model to reflect your introverted needs. I go into depth in my book The Introvert Way™ Roadmap.
Myers Briggs and Me
I am an INFJ...It stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging. INFJ indicates a person who is energised by time alone (Introverted), who focuses on ideas and concepts rather than facts and details (iNtuitive), who makes decisions based on feelings and values (Feeling) and who prefers to be planned and organised rather than spontaneous and flexible (Judging).
I first realised I was introverted as a teenager, when at the end of the school day I would collapse on my bed and fall asleep before dinner. I would be all in and involved with activities at school, but once home I was desperate to be alone.
I discovered that the main indicator of introversion is where I gain my energy.
And that is being alone.
Working on my own, in my own space is pure bliss.
I love connecting with my family at the end of the day, but I am definitely not hunting out parties to attend on a regular basis. Every now and then is fine - so long as I don't have something important happening the next day.
In reality, Myers-Briggs is a sliding scale and you can move along any of the 4 areas in your life as we all change with age and experience.
Want to see where you come out on the Myers-Briggs test?
Take a simple version here and see which of the 16 personality types you fall into.
Does it sound accurate to you?