A slightly different Connect post. This is more of an information post about how extroverts can understand and connect with introverts, and hopefully introverts understand and connect with themselves.
Introverts and extraverts may seem the same on the surface, but if you look at the waythey respond to life’s everyday occurrences, differences begin to emerge.
Last month, for example, Science of Us writer Melissa Dahl reported on findings from psychologist Brian Little’s latest book on personality science, Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, which showed that introverts are better off avoiding caffeine before a big meeting or important event.
Little cites the theory of extraversion by Hans Eysenck and research by William Revelle of Northwestern University, explaining that introverts and extraverts naturally differ when it comes to their alertness and responsiveness to a given environment. A substance or scene that overstimulates the central nervous system of an introvert (which doesn’t take much) might cause him or her to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, rather than excited and engaged.
In her 2012 TED Talk titled “The Power of Introverts,” author Susan Cain reiterated this point in her definition of introversion, explaining that the trait is “different from being shy.”
“Shyness is about fear of social judgment,” Cain said. “Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extraverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments.”
Now it goes without saying that most of our societal constructs cater to the former — from open office spaces to loud bars to the structure of our educational system — despite the fact that anywhere from one-third to half of the population has an introverted temperament.
While a person’s introverted or extraverted tendencies fall within a spectrum — there is no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extravert, according to famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung — an introvert is most obvious and vulnerable when he or she is in an overstimulating environment.
Coffee jitters aside, here are 10 ways introverts physically interact with the world around them differently than extraverts.
They withdraw in crowds.
“We hit the 20th century and we entered a new culture that historians call the culture of personality,” said Cain in her TED Talk. “We had evolved from an agricultural economy to a world of big business, and so suddenly people are moving from small towns to the cities, and instead of working alongside people they’ve known all their lives, now they are having to prove themselves in a crowd of strangers.”
The resulting crowd, which is often loud, noisy and congested, easily overstimulates introverts and drains them of their physical energy. They end up feeling more physically isolated than supported by their surroundings, and would rather be anywhere but that sea of people.
Small talk stresses them out, while deeper conversations make them feel alive.
While most extraverts are energized by such interactions, introverts often feelintimidated, bored or exhausted by them. It’s not uncommon in large conversations for introverts to take on the role of the quiet listener and then take time alone once it’s complete. As Sophia Dembling, the author of The Introvert’s Way: Living A Quiet Life In A Noisy World, explains in her book, it ultimately comes down to how a person receives (or doesn’t receive) energy from his or her surroundings. Instead, introverts prefer deeper conversations, oftentimes about philosophical ideas.
Or in this book by Susan Cain:
Amazon US http://amzn.to/1FwmJvR
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/1iEWeJG