Sometimes it’s not about whose personality is better. Sometimes, it can be a curse whether you are an introvert, or an extrovert.
When my oldest daughter was in middle school, she got in trouble with a certain teacher for not contributing enough. She had always struggled with being in school, around people, and talking to others. In grammar school, she needed to be the “mail girl” who got to leave class a couple of times a day in order to cope. In middle school, this teacher thought she was looking out the window too much. Now that she is a college student, she does just great.
The reason? She is an introvert, and no one forces her to contribute when she doesn’t have the energy and doesn’t want to. She gets to pick her classes and decide when she wants to socialize and when she doesn’t. The truth is that too much interaction wears her out. She needs time to recharge her batteries.
A good friend and colleague of mine get in trouble for talking too much. She always has boundless amounts of energy and can engage with anyone, at any time. She tends to use a lot of words to say things that some might think could be said in less. She is verbal, upbeat, and constantly looking for someone to talk to and engage with. She gets down when there is no one around to interact with, and she needs to recharge her batteries by making some plans and getting out with people—preferably in a party environment with lots of people and lots of activity!
Who is right? My daughter, the one who would prefer not to engage and be around people all of the time, or my friend, the one who craves and needs interaction? Neither is wrong. Both are “right”, but both also need to understand their own communication styles and learn to work with them and modify them when necessary.
Introverts get a bad rap: They are too cold. They are disassociated and disengaged. They don’t like people, so people often don’t like them.
Extroverts get a bad rap: They are too fluffy. Too filled with joy and enthusiasm. They want the limelight and want everyone to like them.
Introverts are great. They don’t need to be liked.
They don’t like everyone and can be more introspective and even skeptical. They watch what’s happening and pay attention to cues and clues. They don’t miss much because they don’t need to dive in and be involved.
Extroverts are great. They are upbeat and enthusiastic.
They can motivate people and get them excited to be a part of something. Extroverts often genuinely like people and try to find the positives and the good. They are glass-half-full types of people.
Both matter. Both contribute. Both have a role to play. The important thing is to know your style and to know what you need in order to be content and to be happy.
An introvert can be an important member of a team because they observe, they listen, they don’t need constant involvement. An extrovert can be an important member of a team because they infuse the team with excitement and joy. The important thing is that each “side” knows that their approach is fine. It works. It adds value.
Introverts need to recharge with alone time. They need to separate from people and cease participation after too much interaction. Extroverts need to find friends and engage. They need to get out and talk and have some fun.
Rather than try to change and be something you are not, embrace your style, and learn how to find the positives. Learn also how to fuel yourself and know what you need. And most importantly, know how your style plays with others. You might have to explain what’s important to you and surround yourself with people who understand you.
Just know you are “okay” how you are—and you also need to pay attention, learn and modify when it suits you and is necessary.
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There is always going to be a debate about whether introverts are better or extroverts. But, people tend to ignore the fact that sometimes it can be a curse whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Both of them have different kinds of personalities, and both of them function in different ways. Always trying to judge who is better, is really very unfair to both of these personality types.