Introversion Versus Extroversion

Ok, I have a joke.  How many introverts does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer? “Why does this have to be a group activity?”

Ok, ok, another one…

I’d like to see the airlines re-do their seating arrangements. Forget first-class, business class, and cargo. Divide the passengers up into extroverts and introverts. Give the extroverts the front of the aircraft; the introverts, the back. I, being an introvert, have my reasons for this. You’ve never heard of a plane backing into a mountain, right?!

Ok,ok, I have one more…

Did you hear about the introvert who lived in the extrovert’s world?

It’s no joke.

Our world, our culture, our society is crafted to favor the extrovert.

What I’m about to write about here should be taken in a generalized fashion, as there are always exceptions to a rule. The world of psychology is no different, and is, quite often, filled with exceptions.

Depending upon the research one looks at, there can be anywhere between a 50/50 split to a 75/25 split, extroverts over introverts. I prefer the latter studies, as it makes the introverts appear more… heroic. (Just sitting here smiling)

Introverts and extroverts (extraverts) are different in quite a few ways, but that’s OK. Neither one is any better than the other. Again, they are simply different ways of fitting in, and each needs the other, ultimately. One might excel in a particular environment, but that is not to say that one individual will react or be the same in all environments. There are far too many variables to consider as to how an individual may act in any given situation. But, again, I’m writing about generalizations. One might find their self at different points along the introvert/extrovert spectrum. I simply want people to know this.

Now, on with the show…

Energy

One way we’re (I’m talkin’ to introverts here, as I are one) different is in how we get our energy.

The extrovert will draw energy from the outer world of experience. Extroverts are energized by things, such as activities, people, and places.

The introvert will draw energy from the inner world of thought. Introverts are energized by ideas, emotions and feelings (premonitions, intuition).

Introverts, in most social situations, will generally be closed off to excessive interactions with other people, making them appear somewhat aloof or standoffish. But, this is not always the case. Extroverts, much to the contrary, are not always as outgoing or as lively as introverts are. If you catch an introvert at the right time and the right place, they can be extremely outgoing and lively. They can be as bright as a supernova, so to say, and this is one thing that drives extroverts crazy. They see an introvert at one particular place and time, and the introvert is as lively as can be, but, the next day at the same time and place, they see the introvert reverted back more closely to his or her ideal temperament, and they just can’t figure things (Ok, one thing… the introvert) out. So, what does the extrovert do? Quite often, they’ll say that the introvert has some sort of “problem,” but they won’t be able to put their finger on what it is, though. More on this in a bit.

Introverts will have to expend more energy in social situations than the extrovert will. The extrovert can actually gain energy in social situations. But, put an extrovert in a room and have them crunch numbers or figure out problems, and their energy levels begin to dissipate, whereas the introverts will begin to pick up and be recharged.

Stimulation

Another way is how we respond to stimulation, which is similar to energy.

Extroverts live to experience a lot, whereas introverts live to know a lot. It’s like the extrovert is a hummingbird and wants to get as far down the path as they can, to smell all the roses, whereas the introvert wants to stop and smell the roses.

Vertical and Horizontal Ways of Being

Introverts will think in depth, while extroverts think in breadth. Think of it this way: The introvert can range into the highest heavens, or the deepest seas, whereas the extrovert is stuck on a plain plane. There are many things to experience on this plain plane, but they simply aren’t experienced as deeply. Now, the caveat here is that we need to remember that while the extrovert ranges far and wide, they can still range up and down on the vertical axis at different places on this axis. It is the same with the introvert. He or she can think higher and/or deeper thoughts on the vertical axis, while expanding along the horizontal axis at different times.

Giving Answers

This way of being is another part of what drives the extroverts crazy. The introverts won’t always give a fast answer, because they want to have a fuller response to a thought or question. They’re thoughtful. They are not aloof, arrogant, or secretive, which are accusations that are, quite often, brought against the introvert. The introvert wants to have a fuller response to something that is given to them, for the benefit of all. The introvert generally has a grasp of the bigger picture, in terms of concepts. If they don’t, they realize that there is much more than what meets the eye, at the moment. Hence, the slow responses. I was in a relationship one time, and was asked a question, and because I delayed in answering the question, by just a few seconds, I was accused of formulating a lie. This could not have been further from the truth, though. I wanted to give a thoughtful and well-rounded response, but I was unfairly accused of trying to fabricate a lie. It was not a pleasant time in my life, although I learned greatly from it. Unfortunately, this type of thing, as well as many other accusations rise up against the introvert.

Think about the tortoise and the hare for a moment. The hare, much faster (the extrovert is, generally, more adept at thinking on their feet) than the tortoise, mocks the tortoise with his over-confidence, putting down the slower individual (the slower responding introvert). Now, my take-away from this fable is not that it is “slow and the sure wins the race.” My take-away from that fable is not to be so damned cocky, over-confident, or arrogant. It doesn’t pay off. It’s also quite a fun thing for the extrovert to underestimate the introvert, especially when the extrovert wanders into the introvert’s areas of expertise. Remember that supernova, earlier? The extrovert doesn’t stand a chance. But, this doesn’t stop them.

Read on.

Introverts have been ridiculed as being shy, schizoid, or highly sensitive (among many other things).  This is NOT the case, generally. Generally, what IS the case is that the introvert is viewed through the glasses of extroversion (whether the viewer is an extrovert or an extrovert wannabe (an introvert who is pretending to be an extrovert)). Because the introvert doesn’t quite fit with what “should be” through the glasses of extroversion, quite often the introvert is made to feel responsible, to one degree or another, for his or her own “shortcomings,” where there are absolutely no shortcomings to being with. Go figure!

Shyness is social anxiety, and it is in the realm of both the introvert and the extrovert. It is simply not something that one group is more prone to than the other, although the introvert is quite often pushed into that mold of thinking, erroneous as it is. Having a schizoid personality disorder is a condition where a person has indifferent to deeper relationships and/or is socially isolated or has apathetic behaviors. Extroverts can be just as prone to this sort of behavior as the introvert, but they are more adept at covering it up (IMNSHO). Being highly sensitive can simply mean that people are more easily upset. It is my experience that it is, more often, the extrovert who is more easily upset than the introvert who is given to thought. An introvert who has thought out a concept or construct can lay a challenge at the feet of the extrovert and that challenge can rattle the cage of the extrovert. What happens, at that point, is that the extrovert calls for reinforcements (lots of them).

Thinking and Talking

Introverts think and talk differently. As I mentioned earlier, introverts can, quite often, have higher or deeper thoughts than the extrovert, and these thoughts just pass right on by the extrovert, when the introvert shares them. The introvert thinks, “They simply don’t understand,” and you can see it in the extroverts face, while the extrovert thinks that the introvert is from some other planet and is speaking some foreign language, even though the introvert is speaking the common language of the land. I’ve been in more than a few situations where I bring up a salient comment (in my mind) in a conversation, and the group largely ignores my offering. Sometime later in the conversation the same thought comes up from someone else, that I spoke of previously, and the group all agrees that it’s a wonderful thought. I’ll sit there and look at them all like, “What took you so long?” (That’s as nice as I can say it, here.)

Perhaps this is the greatest vexation that an introvert causes for the extrovert, and that is to…  slow down and think. A lot of times, introverts (ok, ok…  it’s probably just me) view extroverts like a golf ball that’s been teed off in a tile bathroom. They are just all over the place. When the introvert tries to corral them, in order to have a deeper, more meaningful conversation, the extrovert simply won’t have any of it. The conversation goes beyond the realm in which the extrovert feels comfortable. At that point, again, it’s time for the introvert to start listening for the bugle calls for reinforcements. The introvert, at that point, is seen to be more of a problem than a compatriot. The thing is, though, that this is simply the way things are, and many extroverts will deny this. There are, indeed, some extroverts who are willing to make the effort, and those people are like oases in the desert of life for the introvert.

I could go on and on and on about this, but I’ll give it a rest, for now. What I am hoping this article will do is to cause people think… to cause people to agree… to cause people to disagree, but more importantly I hope it will cause people to try to understand. Our children stand to benefit the most from the emerging understanding of the differences as well as complimentary elements between introversion and extroversion. If they can be shown, early on, about how being an introvert isn’t a drawback, but can actually be a plus, then we’ll have made tremendous progress in helping them fare better in a world that seems to be increasingly crazy. For those of us who are older, we still stand a great chance at learning and growing. If you are an introvert and haven’t heard of the things that are presented in this article, I’d ask you to go out and google introversion versus extroversion. If you are an extrovert, I’d challenge you to do just the vary same thing. Go out and google introversion versus extroversion. The gifts that we can all gain through a better understanding of matters such as this can be a boon in our lives. Things like this can help you when it comes to knowing your mind.

I’ll have another article up about how the differences between introversion and extroversion can benefit the workplace, school room, and personal relationships very soon.


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