Understanding Introversion
Mon, April 19, 2021

Understanding Introversion

A shy person does not want to be alone but is afraid to interact with others. An introvert person enjoys time alone and gets emotionally drained after interacting with others / Photo by: fizkes via Shutterstock

 

Shyness and introversion are not the same although they may look the same. A shy person does not want to be alone but is afraid to interact with others. An introvert person enjoys time alone and gets emotionally drained after interacting with others. A classic example of an introvert is Bill Gates—quiet and serious but unperturbed by the opinions of others. On the other hand, Barbra Streisand is a shy extrovert, outgoing but battling with stage fright.

 

Looking Deeply into Introversion

Introversion is a basic personality trait characterized by a preference for quiet and solitary experiences. Introverts do not fear or dislike others and are neither shy nor lonely. They are more energetic and happy with their own inner life than with social events. A roomful of people may be torture for introverts but a one-on-one engagement in calm environments may be a pleasure. The rattle of social interactions is disheartening and draining as well.

Most people mistakenly think that introverts are inherently asocial. However, that is not the case. Introverts are, in fact, more sensitive to social cues and meanings. They are more empathetic and interpersonally connected than their socially vibrant counterparts. The difference lays in the fact that introverts tend to relate better within intimate relationships and are unable to kowtow to the pressures of group dynamics.

Clearly aware of how others relate, an introvert often undertakes measures to shift outside their comfort zone, usually by middle school or high school. However, it is not always the case as some introverts are happier to maintain smaller social circles and calmer interests for the rest of their lives. For example, an introvert may prefer to be alone in their room and may not share their feelings easily. This should not be mistaken for depression. People often worry that a person alone most of the time and does not share their feelings is in some kind of emotional distress. These behaviors may be signs of depression, but in this case, it is not. Introversion is not a response to outside pressures; it is a personality trait. In other words, an outgoing child who becomes silent and withdrawn all of sudden did not become an introvert but may be suffering from depression.

It would be very helpful to read in-depth details about social behaviors, emotions, and expressions of introverts to have a better sense of them.

Introversion is a basic personality trait characterized by a preference for quiet and solitary experiences. Introverts do not fear or dislike others and are neither shy nor lonely / Photo by: Dmytro Zinkevych via Shutterstock

 

The Introverts’ Social Needs and Preferences

People do not outgrow introversion. An introvert child will become an introvert adult. As mentioned, introverts are not asocial, friendless loners, or socially unskilled. They just have different social needs and preferences:

Friendships – Introverts do not make friends easily as these are physically draining for them. They prefer to have one or two close friends although they may have wide acquaintances. Because of this, introverts are criticized for appearing to lack social skills.

Social Preferences – It is normal for introverts to require a lot of personal space. Being around with others sap their energy so they need time alone to regain this. Being alone provides them uninterrupted opportunity to reflect on life. They do not enjoy big parties, and if they do attend, they keep to one or two friends talking about topics they all know a lot about.

Preferred Activities – Introverts enjoy activities they can do alone or with one or two others. They love reading, creative writing, music, and art. They tend to hang back and observe before joining a group activity. They are more comfortable if familiar with the activity or situation.

Social Behavior – Introverts are quiet and serious and do not want to be the center of attention. They do not brag about their achievements and are more likely to be “dumb down” as they are silent about their abilities. In a large group, they tend to be less active with little body movements and facial expressions. They can be animated in comfortable settings like in homes or in the company of close friends.

Social Interaction – Introverts are excellent listeners and less talkers. They make eye contact and are attentive. When they talk, they say what they mean. They dislike small talk and would rather stay quiet than say something insignificant. If interested in the topic, introverts may talk relentlessly. They dislike being interrupted.

Verbal Expression – Introverts would rather write their ideas than talk about them. They need time to ponder answers to questions. Sometimes they feel the need to practice what they want to say before saying it. They have difficulty finding the right words.

Emotions and Emotional Responses – Introverts get emotionally drained after spending time with others. They can become grouchy around crowds. They are territorial and dislike sharing space with others. They find it difficult to share their feelings and get deeply embarrassed by public mistakes.

Helping Introverts

Firstly, introversion is not a disorder requiring treatment. Introverts do not really need help. However, to guarantee their happiness, the following are recommended.

- Accept that introversion is a normal personality trait. Introverts are not social butterflies so expect them to be alone most of the time. They only have a few close friends.

- Respect their need for privacy. Do not push them to engage in social activities they feel uncomfortable with. Provide some quiet time to let them wind down after social activities as these may be stressful for them.

- Encourage them to seek outlets for self-expression like art, creative writing, yoga, or whatever interests them. Chat with them where their interests lie and work with these to bring positive results.

Raising introverts in an extroverted world is a challenge. The key to success is seeing and believing that introversion is a strength to be developed and make use of rather than a burden to be borne. Love and understanding are most needed.