We have all gotten a good chuckle out of jokes and memes on the internet regarding the differences between introverts and extroverts. The contrast between the two different personality types is very easy to spot. The difficulty, however, lies in understanding the other personality type. In general, introverts tend to feel that extroverts talk to much or have too much energy. In contrast, extroverts usually feel that introverts are too quiet or too shy.
I had a roommate one time who was majorly extroverted. I am not. This difference in personality caused a good amount of tension between us. He always wanted to talk and socialize, whereas I preferred to be by myself doing something quiet such as reading a book. It irritated him that I was so quiet and so against socializing, and there were times when it got on my nerves that he couldn’t be calm and let me have some peace. Eventually, we came to a compromise in which I would talk to him or play board games with him and my other roommate, and he would give me alone time when I needed it.
Unfortunately, this kind of compromise doesn’t happen as often as it should. This is why I’d like to discuss the differences between the two personality types to help everyone understand each other a little better.
Before we begin discussing the two personality types, it’s important to note that not everybody is either completely introverted or completely extroverted. In fact, every person has some tendencies or traits of each type. Therefore, when we discuss ‘introverts’ and ‘extroverts’, we are referring to which of the traits is most dominant in an individual.
Extroversion is a personality type normally associated with people who are energetic and tend to talk a lot with others. They are outgoing and don’t usually show any amount of shyness. They find stress relief in associating with others and going out and doing things. That is where they ‘recharge’ their emotional and mental energies.
Extroverts prefer to go out and spend time with friends rather than staying at home relaxing with a TV show or a book. This is not because they don’t enjoy those things, they just feel more at home around others. People with this personality type draw their energy from outside of themselves. This causes them to share more about themselves and make friends more easily. They don’t usually have a problem with opening up to others, and interpersonal relationships are easier for them.
Introverts are essentially the polar opposites of extroverts. Unlike extroverts, they seek solitude, peace and quiet. They find strength in the ability to be on their own with their thoughts with no interruptions. It’s not necessarily that they’re unfriendly or antisocial, even though that tends to be how they come across. Most introverts enjoy spending time with others and having conversations with people. They just prefer to keep that in smaller doses.
The key difference between extroverts and introverts is that while extroverts gain their energy from outside sources, introverts gain their energy from within themselves. Because of this, they are much more comfortable relaxing far away from human contact.
Introverts tend to come across as shy, unfriendly, or overly quiet. They don’t mean to seem this way, just as extroverts don’t mean to come across as pushy, overbearing, or too loud.
How to Get Along
After studying the differences between introverts and extroverts, it becomes clear why each group of people tend to be a little annoyed by the other. An extrovert might be offended that their introvert friend would rather stay home than hang out with them. An introvert may be irritated that their extroverted has difficulty giving them a little bit of time to themselves.
We need not be offended, however. It’s really not that other people are trying to be inconsiderate. It’s just very difficult for introverts to understand the need to socialize, and it’s equally hard for an extrovert to understand the need to be alone. Their brains are simply wired a little differently, and they have differing needs.
Neither one of these two groups are better than the other. The difference between the two simply lies in the way in which we find comfort and enjoyment. It is very possible for members of each group to get along with each other. It simply takes some measure of understanding and compromise. As the Wikipedia article on Extroversion and Introversion states, “Acknowledging that introversion and extraversion are normal variants of behavior can help in self-acceptance and understanding of others. For example, an extravert can accept his/her introverted partner’s need for space, while an introvert can acknowledge his/her extraverted partner’s need for social interaction.”
Let’s all do what we can to understand those that have different social needs than we do. This will help us to grow closer to those around us and feel less anger or irritation towards those with whom we associate.