Do you like big parties? Well, that makes you a… nope, not necessarily an extrovert…
How about intimate chats with 1-3 close friends? Doesn’t make you an introvert…
What about your energy, how do you recharge your battery for engagement in our world? Now, this, THIS is how you can tell whether or not you are an introvert or an extrovert.
As an introvert the perspective of an extrovert is a bit difficult for me to write about but I want to make sure both sides are portrayed accurately. Yes, most people are shocked by the fact that I’m an introvert. I hear quite often things like “But you are so outgoing” or “You are so expressive and bubbly” or “I would have never thought you were an introvert” among other things. What most people don’t know is while those ways of being are part of my personality, they are also quite draining and often take a lot of quiet time to prepare and/or recover from one of those ‘outgoing’ or ‘bubbly’ interactions.
Most people think introversion and extroversion is about how you present yourself in public settings. To some degree this is true. However, being outgoing does not automatically make you an extrovert and the same goes for being shy or quiet and being an introvert.
So, what does it really mean to be one or the other? Let’s clarify some of the things tied to introversion and extroversion.
Public Presentation and RBF
We have all heard it or been asked why we have it… Resting Bitch Face or RBF. Introverts and extroverts alike can exude and have experienced this phenomenon. However, when RBF is combined with being an introvert or being ‘shy’ or ‘quiet’ there may be accusations of disinterest or even that someone is upset about something.
More often than not with an introvert it is actually just their face regardless of level of interest. This is not to say though that they will not full on light up if something really exciting is presented to them.
Being an introvert in public is fine for the most part but sometimes it can be intensely uncomfortable. Public presence requires a high level of expending energy and preparation for introverts whereas the opposite applies to extrovert. Introverts may have anxiety going into a situation anticipating discomfort even if they have been in the situation and with the same people countless times. While extroverts are not devoid of anxiety both familiar and unfamiliar public appearances tend to be enjoyable and rejuvenating and have the potential to fuel their energy stores. Even when an introvert finds comfort and enjoyment in a public appearance they may need time to re-energize later.
Why does it take so much energy? Well…
For people who are introverts small talk is like torture. We are fully capable of it but it is not our favorite. It often feels forced and redundant rather than introductory or informative. We want to get to the meat of who someone is rather than staying surface level. Going deep with others is a place where we thrive in communication rather than staying on the surface. Because of the discomfort with small talk people who are introverts get the ‘shy/quiet’ label because the say “Hello” and almost immediately move into ‘listener/observer’ mode. But if you talk to an introvert about something in which they are interested or a topic with which they feel comfortable and confident, you might not be able to get them to stop talking. Extroverts however are often more comfortable with most forms or conversation including small talk and starting conversation as well as engaging in conversations with depth.
While extroverts don’t mind large groups and can also thrive in small groups. Small groups or one-on-one is preferred for most introverts for communication. However, the intimacy and connection of the smaller group provides both introverts and extroverts spaces of connection in deeper ways that feel comfortable across the board.
How does the size of the group or the topic of conversation effect energy levels? Well…
Every person’s energy is expended and regenerated in a different ways and combinations of activities or inactivity’s. Extroverts generally charge their energy stores through engagement or being around others. For example, if an extrovert needs to recharge independently they will go to a mall or a place with a lot of activity and energy even if they don’t directly interact or connect with another person. On the other hand, if an introvert needs to recharge and they go to a mall they will only be further depleted. Introverts tend to need lower levels of engagement and sensory activity to recharge. For example, reading books, being in nature for grounding, or watching a show or movie they’ve seen a million times so there are no surprises. These examples may also be enjoyed by an extrovert but if they go to long without connection to or engagement with others the extrovert’s energy stores with then begin to deplete.
It is also important to acknowledge these ways of regenerating and depleting are not exchanges of energy between introverts and extroverts.
So, no, this does not mean the extroverts in your life are sucking the energy out of you and the introverts are not giving up their energy to others! Every person’s energy is individual and separate and we don’t give and take to and from others, we simply use and restore our own energy stores in ways that feel good for us. Additionally, it is not a one size fits all some introvert energy regeneration methods work for extroverts and vice versa.
There is no right or wrong way to recharge your energy it is more about finding what is right for you! When you figure out what you need to regenerate your energy and engage in the world make it happen with regularity and without judgment!
Whether you are an Introvert or Extrovert harness it, manage it, and make it work for YOU!
P.S. Stay tuned for an Extrovert's perspective on Introverts vs. Extroverts.
Our 'What's the Deal With...' series includes posts discussing trending topics and ideas that we find interesting and thought provoking. Any opinions that we may share in these posts are unique to us and we encourage you to complete individual research on any topics that you find interesting as well.