Are you an introvert or an extrovert? (And how to use either to your advantage!)

 
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You’ve probably heard the terms introvert and extrovert being tossed around by loved ones, friends or colleagues. You might have an idea of which of these categories speak to you – you’re super loud and bubbly, so you must be pretty extroverted… right? 

Turns out it’s a touch more complex than that. Let’s take a moment to consider what these terms really mean, how they might apply to our lives and, better yet, how we might be able to use our natural disposition towards introversion or extroversion to our advantage. 

Recharging your batteries

First of all, it’s important to shed the somewhat archaic understanding that extroverts are loud and gregarious, while introverts are quiet and shy. While this can be true in many cases, introversion and extroversion are less about how we act in the world and with those around us, and more about where and how we source the energy to do so. 

Think about your life as being powered by a big battery. Essentially, introverts need a different kind of fuel to nourish that battery and keep it charged than their extroverted fellows.  

The extrovert advantage 

What does this mean in practice? Let’s start with all you extroverts out there. Extroverted types tend to refuel their batteries from outside sources – namely from being around other people. Their batteries tend to drain when they’re left alone – so they’re not much for “me time”. 

Extroverts tend to be outgoing, highly social and readily able to express their opinions and emotions. Relaxed and confident, extroverts are even able to lift the sociability of those around them. Not only are they comfortable breaking the ice, making introductions or striking up a conversation – they genuinely enjoy it! 

Not surprisingly, extroverts make for great networkers and team players, and tend to slip into leadership roles with ease. Extroverts are generally doers and approach new tasks with enthusiasm. So long as that social tank is charged, they can take on the world.

While there are clear advantages a-plenty for extroverted types, they will sometimes need to keep their more dominant personalities in check. This is especially true around introverted types – who often have just as important insight to add to a conversation. Extroverts also need to be aware not to rely on feedback from other people to reinforce their self-esteem or self-worth – ultimately this needs to come from inside. 

The secret life of introverts 

Introverts, on the other hand, recharge their batteries by looking inward – spending time alone to reflect and contemplate on the concepts and ideas the come up against day to day. 

That’s not to say all introverts want to live in a cabin the woods – they do genuinely enjoy the company of those around them. But an introvert’s battery charge depletes in social situations – so they’re all about that “me time”.

While extroverts may appear to have the winning chip here, introverts can very much use their inner powers to their own advantage too. 

First off, introverts are more likely to think before they act, reflecting on all sides of a problem rather than going ahead with the first solution that pops into their head. 

They’re more likely to be self-reflexive than their extroverted counterparts, meaning they can learn and grow from mistakes more readily. 

More than this, when the introvert talks, others tend to listen! Having less to say often means when you do speak up, your contributions are often more considered, more insightful, and more impactful to the others around you. 

Whether you draw your strength from being surrounded by others, or from a bubble bath and a good book at home, it’s important to check in and understand your natural disposition. Being aware of your introvert or extrovert strengths and weaknesses will allow you to use them to your advantage in a given situation and encourage you to make the time to recharge – however that works for you.