No social skills.
Afraid of people.
And yes, a loser.
How do I even survive in the world, if this is what people think of introverts!?!
These were just a few of the words a good friend used to describe an “introvert” when I asked him to define one. He even referred to it as something that may need to be “fixed.”
Now, I love my friend dearly. He is incredibly smart, aware and mature. However, on this point, he’s completely 110% wrong!
Once I set him straight (and as nice as I can be, I can definitely set someone straight!), I recognized that a large part of the reason I feel called to specialize in coaching introverts is because we are a misunderstood, stereotyped bunch. There are stories about introverts – ones made up by others, ones we make up about ourselves – that can hold us back in a predominantly extroverted world. I wish to empower every introvert I know to understand, own and leverage the gifts and strengths that come with being inwardly focused.
What is an introvert? According to the Jung Lexicon, introversion is “a mode of psychological orientation where the movement of energy is toward the inner world.”
So, what does that mean? In simple terms, it means that an introvert is someone who gains energy when alone and drains energy when around too many people.
An introvert can be, as one of my friends puts it, “happy as pie” spending time alone. An extrovert is likely to become bored or lonely after 15 minutes of solitude.
Other introvert traits and preferences include (this is a generalized list; there as many different variations and levels of introversion as there are introverts!):
- Think carefully before speaking or acting
- Prefer to express feelings in writing rather than talking
- Excellent listeners
- Have a selected few deep, close friendships
- Dislike small talk
- Enjoy self-reflection and introspection
- Can have different public and private personas
It’s that last one that trips people up the most. Anytime I’ve mentioned I’m an introvert, I almost always hear “No way! I never would have guessed!” It’s not that I’m a split personality or that what you see in public is not the “real” me. It’s simply that over time, I’ve learned to manage my energy to match the situation. I know how to be super social or spontaneous and still take care of myself and my needs.
All of us, no matter what our orientation, have elements of introversion and extroversion. In my case, it’s a dial by which I can turn the volume up or down as I wish, and my dial default is several notches towards introversion.
One point I want to be crystal clear about: claiming the word “introvert” is not about slapping a label on you, or putting you into this little box. It’s about having another piece of information that can help you understand yourself better, to help you be true to yourself.
If you’re an extrovert, you may be asking, “Hey, what about me? Where’s the love?!?” Rest assured, I love you, too. My mission as a coach, writer, teacher and personal development fanatic is to facilitate self-understanding and empower people to trust their truth. While I may use the word “introvert” a lot, that doesn’t mean that extroverts won’t find value, meaning and insight in my message.
Think of this as the place for introverts and the people who love them.
I invite your comments! Are you an introvert? If so, what’s been most helpful about understanding your personality? What do you find is the biggest challenge about being an introvert? What’s the biggest opportunity or benefit?