For many people (and I’m among them) knowing the introversion theme was an important discovery.
Before I understood what it meant to be introverted, I often asked myself questions about some aspects of my character that seem strange to me because they are very different from what I saw in other people.
- Why after a day of work in the office could not wait to be alone, while the people around me wanted an aperitif with friends?
- Because I prefer to go out with two or three people at a time, and if we are more than five I often feel uncomfortable, while for others it seems that the rule applies: the more we are, the more we have fun?
- Why if I spend an evening with a large company for a while it seems to be going well, until at some point I turn off and can’t wait to go home while everyone around me still seems charged and with the desire to have fun?
- Why do I love spending the weekend at home, reading, doing some business, watching television, playing on the computer, while most people I know consider boring to spend their free time like this?
- Why did I often feel during business meetings that my point of view was not taken into consideration even when I was sure my idea was good?
- Why if I have an agenda full of commitments, even if these are pleasant commitments, do I get anxious and instead feel the need to put a lot of space between a commitment and another?
I found the answer to all these questions a few years ago. I’m a basically introverted person. And this means that:
- I need to be alone
- interactions with other people tire me
- I easily feel hyper-stimulated and get into trouble
- I tend to speak calmly and prudently and this, in certain contexts, makes what I say seem irrelevant.
Getting aware of this was a great help, because the answers I gave myself to these questions before were not exactly cute. They were of the type: you are a lazy person, you are unsociable, you are insecure, you are not very interesting and you cannot be with others. And therefore: you have to change, you have to give yourself a move, you have to learn to be more loose, you have to learn to amounts.
Many introverts give themselves these answers. They start with thinking: what the hell is wrong with me? and they end up engaging in painstaking (and often useless) attempts to change and overcome what – in part with reason – they perceive as a limit.
Mind you: everyone would like to feel comfortable in relationships, deal with relationships with others with an easy, dynamic, confident attitude; express yourself assertively and be taken into consideration.
However, if we try to pass over our needs and our needs by trying to change what seems to us wrong in us, we soon realize we cannot do it.
In fact, only if you know yourself and your needs can you relate effectively to others.
For those who are introverted, it is, therefore, essential to recognize how one is made and understand what the strengths of one’s character are.
But let’s start from the beginning: what does it mean to be introverted? And extroverts?
They are not boxes
Introversion and extroversion are considered to be two main traits of character.
Introversion is the tendency to turn one’s attention inward, to one’s inner world, to emotions and thoughts.
On the contrary, extroversion is the tendency to turn one’s attention to the external world, to what is around us and to the stimuli that come from it.
The first point to understand is that these are not two separate boxes. There are no people completely introverted on one side, and those completely extroverted on the other.
Meanwhile, because introversion and extroversion are always present in every person. All of us, even in the course of a simple day, are in some moments more turned inwards and others more turned outwards. It is a normal dynamic that is part of our life.
There is a tendency, that of being more or less extroverted (or more or less introverted), and must be considered as a continuous line. At one extreme there is the maximum extroversion, at the opposite extreme the maximum introversion, in the center the position that someone has called ambiversion, halfway between the two. Here, every person is placed in a position along this continuum. Maybe at different times in our lives, we can place ourselves in different places, but in general, it is difficult to go from one extreme to another.
Now, if you are definitely extroverted, or on the contrary decidedly introverted, you probably already know it, and you don’t need further tests or descriptions to understand more or less in which position of the spectrum you are.
It’s all about energy
But even before taking a test, it may be sufficient to answer a single question to understand if we tend to be more introverted or extroverted.
The key question is this: where do we get our energy from?
When you feel tired and you need to recharge what activities do you do?
If you need to be among others, to spend an evening with friends, to do group activities to relax or to fill up with energy, then it is very likely that your tendency is towards extroversion.
On the contrary, if you relax and recover energy on your own, staying at home doing quiet activities or walking in nature or doing some other hobby on your own, then it is very likely that your tendency is towards introversion.
The difference between the two types is precisely this: those who are introverted, after socializing – whether with friends, family, or in the professional sphere – feel tired and need to be alone to recover energy.
It is mainly a matter of stimulation: those who are introverted tend to receive and process stimuli more intensely than an extrovert and for this reason, they need long quiet pauses, with few external stimuli, otherwise, they get too tired and start not to feel good.
Apparently, several studies have shown that this difference has physiological and perhaps also genetic foundations.
But is being an introvert a problem?
The answer to this question in my opinion is ni.
No, because there is nothing wrong or problematic about being a little introverted in nature.
Yes, because in our culture extroversion is considered a positive trait, and therefore the way of doing introverts often raises some perplexity and distrust.
It is useless to deny it: the society in which we live has its values and these influence our lives. If in the environment around us being dynamic, sunny, sociable, with a great spirit of initiative is considered positive, we will end up considering it problematic to be more reserved, prudent, lovers of calm and solitude.
If we begin, perhaps even as children, to feel that there is something wrong with us, and that the people around us do not understand (and therefore do not satisfy) our needs, it is clear that our life will be uphill.
One of the areas in which many introverts seem to face difficulties is the professional one. In many work environments it is important, in order to obtain satisfaction and recognition, to know how to value oneself, to express oneself safely and decisively, to be able to cultivate relationships, to know how to ask, to know how to negotiate, to know how to deal with and manage conflicts … all these things in which introverts are generally not good.
On the other hand, if an introverted person finds himself doing a job in which peace, concentration, precision and attention are very important, he will probably find himself very well and will be able to perform at his best.
So what to do?
Awareness is the key.
First understand what our needs as introverted people are and learn to satisfy them. Therefore organize our life and our rhythms in a way that allows us to take those spaces of peace, solitude and reflection that are necessary for us not to go completely into the ball.
Trying at all costs to adapt to other rhythms and other customs – just because they seem to us the most widespread among the people around us – does nothing but push us to live continuously away from our comfort zone, providing us with additional stress, tiredness, discomfort. It’s not worth it. Much better to learn to express our needs, and to set our limits. Kindly decline any invitations, withdraw when we need to recharge the batteries, contract our spaces with your partner, with your work colleagues, with your boss, with your family.
But awareness of our strengths is also fundamental. Because without a doubt the extroverts will be better than us in imposing their ideas, in talking with free rein, in launching into new adventures, in keeping up in social situations. But introverts have other qualities, just as important. Understanding them and being able to enhance them in our lives can really make a difference.
Sylvia Löhken, in the book Introverts and happy: Finding your secret weapon in silence, has identified ten strengths that often go hand in hand with introversion.
Note: not all introverted people have all ten of these characteristics. It depends, because we are all different people and it is always wrong to generalize and try to push people into specific boxes.
But let’s say that basically, if you are an introverted person, you could have some of these qualities. Recognizing them and learning to take advantage of them can represent a turning point in personal and professional life. Let’s see what they are.
The ten qualities of introverted people
Those who are introverted generally proceed with caution, avoid taking unnecessary risks, carefully observe the situation before acting and think before speaking. It has a tendency not to invade the space of others, to show respect and delicacy.
Because of their habit of reflecting and deeply elaborating their experiences, introverted people often have the ability to understand the essentials in situations and to communicate relevant things.
Introverts are often capable of great concentration. They do not need to be continuously stimulated by the new, therefore they are able to apply themselves with great attention to their tasks.
Introverts are probably not aces in conversation, but they have the ability to listen to them. And by listening they can draw important information and build a meaningful dialogue with each other.
Introverted people are often able to cultivate a great inner calm, which provides the basis for concentration, listening, concreteness.
Many introverts are able to reflect on complex problems and to analyze them in detail by finding effective and original solutions.
Loving loneliness also means acquiring a certain independence. Introverts do not constantly need to seek company and conform to the group. This can make them free and able to build a life outside the box if necessary.
Introverted people tend to be persistent: they are capable of dedicating something constantly and for long periods of time.
Propensity to write
It is easy for introverts to prefer writing rather than speaking. This can prove to be an advantage in all those situations where written communication is more effective than oral communication.
One of the characteristics of introversion is the ability to keep the level of conflict low and to mediate between conflicting interests by placing common interests in the foreground.
In the book by Sylvia Löhken, each of these ten points is dedicated to an in-depth chapter with tips to be more effective especially in communicating with others starting from one’s strengths. I would have liked to go a little further too … if it wasn’t that I’m already going beyond the reasonable length for an article.
I’ll try to go back later
Indeed, if there is any topic related to introversion that you want to deepen, let me know in the comments (or even by other ways).
See you soon!