There are many false and even harmful myths about introversion. Many of us heard throughout our lives that there is something wrong with us and that we need to behave in a more extroverted way. Otherwise, we are just weird.
I like weird. Being a little weird gives you a character, a unique quality. But it must be a weirdness you are proud of, not weirdness glued to you by those who want to hurt you or who have the need to show their superiority. So how do you answer questions and myths about introversion floating out there?
1. Introverts need to be fixed
There is nothing to fix. Introversion is not a disease that needs to be cured. After millions of years of evolution, nature created a human race where half is introverted. It is by design. It means that the process of natural selection led to us being here. Introverts are needed.
2. Introverts are shy
Some of us can be shy. However, we are mixing apples and oranges here. Introversion/extroversion and shyness are different things. An introverted person doesn’t feel the need to talk to others and be the life of the party. A shy person would love that but doesn’t know how. In fact, shy people that genuinely struggle with their shyness are shy extroverts.
3. Introverts don’t like to talk
Many introverts do like to talk. We just often don’t feel like talking. You need to bring up the right subject, something we are passionate about, and we can talk for hours. It is the small talk and generally any shallow conversation without deep meaning where we stay quiet.
4. Introverts are slow to speak, so they must be dumb
Introverts take their time to come up with answers. We like to make sure that what we say actually means something. Introverts think first and then speak, and sometimes after thinking a bit, decide that we have nothing substantial to say, so we stay quiet. There is no correlation between introversion/extroversion and intelligence. In fact, because of our ability to listen, focus, dive deep, and persevere, introverts often attain a better education than extroverts.
5. Introverts lack social skills
It really depends on what you mean by social skills. In fact, I know many introverts who have excellent social skills. They can listen, empathize, can read the room, are witty, prefer social harmony over drama, and are great to be around. They may not be the hilarious, outgoing life of the party, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have social skills.
6. Introverts don’t care about other people
This is just wrong. Not only do introverts care about others, but we can also be fiercely loyal. It may not always be easy for introverts to make new friends, so we do our best to keep those we have. Introverts tend to be more externally oriented than extroverts. Extroverts are more individualistic than introverts. Introverts are more willing to put the good of others ahead of their own to preserve harmony.
7. Introverts are loners
Only because we prefer to renew our energy in a quiet environment doesn’t mean we want to avoid others at any cost. Introverts like to be alone regularly, but like extroverts, we don’t want to be lonely. Even introverts need to feel that we belong and that we are loved. We may go to spend our free time in nature, but we are comfortable bringing a friend. Having the right people around can energize even an introvert.
8. Introverts can’t be good leaders
A couple of researchers, starting with Adam Grant, have already debunked this myth. Introverts make great leaders, especially in a knowledge-based economy. Extroverts are better at leading passive people who need to be told what to do. Introverts are better at leading proactive, creative, knowledgeable people who need someone to help them remove roadblocks. Just look at famous introverts like Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffett.
9. Introverts hate public speaking and are no good at it
Guess what. Extroverts hate public speaking too. However, many introverts are great public speakers because they are passionate about the topic. Public speaking is a performance, an art, and has nothing to do with extroversion. It requires proper preparation and lots of practice. And introverts are great at these things.
10. Introverts are not good at selling
In his research, Adam Grant showed that introverts are as good at selling as extroverts. We are then both beaten by ambiverts who sit in the middle of the extrovert-introvert spectrum and who outsell them all. Selling is not about talking the buying into it. It is about listening, asking the right type of questions, having solid arguments, and telling the right stories while keeping calm and professional.
Putting it all together
So next time you hear someone describing you or other introverts in these terms, don’t take it personally. They don’t know what they are talking about. If you feel like it, you may try to educate them a bit. If you think you would sound defensive, then smile knowingly and let it pass. You know in your heart that you might be a little weird in their eyes, and that is fine. There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing needs to be fixed. As Sue Fitzmaurice said, “being a little weird is just a natural side-effect of being awesome.”
Photo: darksouls1 / Pixabay.com
For more read my blog about management, leadership, communication, coaching, introversion, software development, and career The Geeky Leader or follow me on Facebook and Twitter: @GeekyLeaderThis article is adapted from my book Quiet Success: The Introvert’s Guide To A Successful Career. If you enjoyed it, get a copy today!