Introvert and extrovert tend to be mislabeled. Often, when people think of an extrovert, they think of a friendly, outgoing person and conversely think of an introvert as a quiet, shy person. These qualities may be true to some introverts and extroverts, but the best way to understand the difference between introverts and extroverts it to consider how a person feels energized and refuels.
My Colleague, the Surprising Extrovert:
Extroverts tend to be most energized when they are around people. Take, for example, a colleague of mine. Recently, we were talking about our energy level at the end of a client filled day. He is a quiet, introspective person who doesn’t use many words to get to his point. He was saying how energized his long day felt. He was excited to go home to have supper with friends and felt very rewarded by the interactions he had with everyone whom he had encountered that day. This surprised me because he doesn’t seem to be the life of the party. He is often quiet in our group interactions and appears very introspective. Someone might describe him as shy until they got to know him. You’re an extrovert if you feel most engaged around other people. You can be a quiet, shy extrovert or an outgoing, gregarious extrovert.
Myself, the Surprising Introvert:
My clients are often shocked that I’m an introvert. I’m a very friendly person and in general am able to strike up a conversation with a random stranger at a party and before we know it, we’re chatting about our souls, our dreams or what makes our hearts sing. I am with people daily, personally and professionally. I facilitate medium sized groups and spend lots of time being social, outgoing and engaged. However, at the end of my day, I’m ready for quiet time. My energy tank is low and I need to make a wise choice about how to re-fuel. As my colleague often heads home to a house full of friends and family, I need to put on my headphones and go to the gym or go on a walk. I need to find times where I can be introspective, reflective and alone. I get my energy from myself, internally. You’re an introvert if you feel most energized after spending time alone and/or with one close friend or partner. You can be outgoing and friendly introvert or a shy, quiet introvert.
To define the terms, I love Liz Longacre’s description of introverts and extroverts:
Extroverts bring the pizzazz and sparkle; introverts bring the mystery and allure. Extroverts are bright and colorful rainbows, immediately capturing people’s attention with their beauty and shine. Introverts are the wind in the trees that touches your soul in profound, contemplative and peaceful (though less visible) ways. Both are beautiful and perfect; they co-exist in harmony.
Tell us, Career Girls, which one are you? An introvert or an extrovert?