The differences between introverts and extroverts are astounding! They say opposites attract and that's certainly very true; I myself am an extrovert and my husband is an introvert! We commonly associate introversion with shyness or extroversion as the life of the party, but both are generally untrue. We all have introverted and extroverted sides, but one is almost always dominant. If you ever wondered how you can effectively interact with and understand someone who seems so different from you and you just don't understand what makes them tick, then it's probably safe to say one of you is an introvert and the other is an extrovert! Below are some key differences between introverts and extroverts that are not only eyeopening but also helpful in maintaining healthy relationships!
1. Processing Circumstances
One of the biggest differences between introverts and extroverts is how they process circumstances. Introverts can be described as internal processors - their thoughts are always going, circulating, evaluating, and concluding. They may appear to be silent but their minds are loud and active. Extroverts are outside thinkers, i.e. verbal processors. They think outside of themselves, make decisions with others, verbalized a situation, and manage conflict through verbal communication. A good way to think of it is introverts = inward focused, extroverts = outward focused.
A main difference between introverts and extroverts is what energizes them and allows them to be relaxed and rejuvenated. For introverts, this usually means a good book and alone time to recharge. For extroverts, this generally means interaction with friends and family. Whatever causes you to be comfortable with who you are and how you're wired, that's how you determine what energizes you.
Without enough notice, introverts do not like change. There's always a plan, a focused set of goals to accomplish and it's hard to stray from those plans and goals without feeling uneasy and overwhelmed. Extroverts tend to "go with the flow" more readily, are spontaneous, and adapt to change easier. Keep in mind that one personality is not better than the other, just different. Introverts are more task-oriented while extroverts are more people-oriented. And each type of person needs to be cared for properly. We cannot change who we are wired to be!
While extroverts tend to over-share their thoughts and aspects of their lives with many friends, introverted people don't like to share their inner world with a lot of people. Friendship plays a key role in this personality difference because introverts generally have 1-2 close friends who they share deep and intimate parts of their lives with. Extroverts tend to have lots of friends and have more superficial relationships, or they share intimate parts of their lives with several close friends.
5. New Situations
Introverts need time to mentally process new situations before they dive in and interact with people. Even once the feel at ease with a new setting, they will probably walk away feeling drained and needing time to recharge alone at home. That can entail reading a book they enjoy or maybe a movie, but that doesn't include interaction with people. For extroverts, a new setting can be exciting - especially if they meet new people and are able to make good connections. An extrovert will probably leave feeling energized and recharged.
6. New People
It's easier for extroverts to engage in and draw out a connection from new people. They don't have to share similarities with a new person to connect well. Introverts choose their friendships and time spent carefully. Usually the people they surround themselves with are people of similar intellect and interests.
7. Appearance and Spacial Arrangement
Sometimes you can tell different personality traits by simply observing how a person dresses or how their home/office is arranged! Introverts are more simple and practical - they most likely would wear neutral tones and have clean, minimalistic home or office spaces. Extroverts might wear more colorful or eye-catching items and have a more inviting, cluttered and cozy office or living space.
8. Combined Traits
As I mentioned in the introduction, shyness isn't necessarily associated with introversion but with fear. I am an extrovert but find myself being shy in certain situations. I HATE public speaking while my husband, an introvert, thrives on it. It's best not to categorize yourself or others as being only introverted or only extroverted because it can certainly vary. It's more about dominate characteristics and where you thrive most as a person.
You might have a best friend or spouse who's completely different than you as far as what energizes them. That's okay! Introverts and extroverts need understanding and respect from others who differ, and space to let them shine. Don't try to force introverts to be extroverted or vice versa! We are all wired differently and it's good to understand that and reach compromises. If you want your best friend to go to a party with you and she's an introvert, pay attention to her needs to process and observe first! And maybe next time you can have a quiet girls night in.
A good way to determine how you fall on the scale of introversion and extroversion is to take a personality test! Remember that it's rare to be an extreme on either side. Most of us have a little of both personality traits with one dominating. A good test to take is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to see where your personality traits fall. There are lots of free ones out there similar as well. What are some differences between introverts and extroverts that you've picked up on with yourself or people around you? I would love to hear examples!