Are you an Introvert?

Introversion is a basic personality trait or psychological preference which is used to describe people who gain energy from quiet reflection and spending time by themselves and expend energy in order to associate with large groups of people. This is in contrast to extraversion which is a personality trait used to describe people who gain energy from interacting with other people and do not need quiet reflection to recharge. Many people are rarely one or the other and usually display characteristics of both introversion and extraversion. It should be noted that introverts do not necessarily dislike interacting with people and are generally not shy or lonely, but that social interaction drains their energy. The former is known as social anxiety, and while those with social anxiety may also be introverts, the two are not “bundled” together. Social anxiety is also generally considered a personality disorder whereas introversion and extraversion are personality types. Social anxiety can cause several other issues such as substance abuse or anti-social behaviour and can be treated by various programmes such as social anxiety coach or social therapy.

The defining characteristic of introversion is the fact introverts gain energy in solitary reflection and expend energy in social gatherings. This generally results in an individual having a limited capacity to engage in social events or participate in large groups before being tired. Afterwards, they must regain their energy by resting or through quiet reflection and may appear distracted or distressed without the opportunity to do so. Introverts are generally the first people to leave after a party or gathering. As mentioned above, introverts differ from socially anxious people or shy people as the latter want to engage in social behaviour but are unable to whereas introverts are content with not socialising or prefer to socialise in smaller groups.

Many cultures of the world tend to reward assertiveness or expression which come more naturally to extraverts. Therefore, introverts may face certain disadvantages in various settings, notably academic or corporate settings. However, there is no scientific evidence that introverts are less satisfied with life compared to extraverts and that their happiness is usually derived from more internal through processes than external stimuli. Hence, introversion, as a personality trait, cannot be said to be either good or bad. While extreme social anxiety can hinder personal development, introversion has no such effect. Introverts are also able to maintain social relationships without difficulty although they may find it difficult to start such relationships resulting in them having fewer friends on average than those who are extraverted. While it is not possible to one to change their personality trait it is possible for introverts to learn the social behaviour exhibited by extraverts and act accordingly, within limits, to appear extraverted.

Introverts may also find it difficult to express themselves in professional or academic settings which may appear as incompetence, but most can counteract this through hard work and planning around social events so that they can prepare adequately. Most organisations are also seeing notably improved performance among introverts who are in managerial positions as their ability to distance themselves from social factors and make decisions become more apparent.

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