What’s an Introvert and How Do You Know if You Are One?
When it comes to the word ‘introvert’, it’s safe to say that the world has not always seen it as a positive thing. Introverts are usually classed as shy, introspective people avoiders who do badly in life and business due to their inability to be around people. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
This guide will help you answer questions like, what is an introvert? How do you know if you are one? And we’ll also share some common questions asked by real people, as well as some of our favourite tips on owning your introversion.
What is an introvert?
If you can believe it, Cambridge dictionary defines an introvert as, ‘someone who is shy, quiet, and prefers to spend time alone rather than often being with other people’.
Let’s re-define that to modern standards:
An introvert is someone who enjoys spending time alone without unwanted stimulation or distraction in order to recharge.
Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy.
In fact, introverts and highly sensitive people are a wide a varied type of person, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
What’s the difference between an introvert and an extrovert?
There’s a misconception that being introverted means you’re shy, anti-social and struggle to be around people.
Being an introvert means that your energy is drained when you’re around others and re-charged when you’re alone. This doesn’t mean that introverts aren’t social, struggle to be around other people, or can’t do things extroverts do. It just means that we need a break every now and again.
So, to be an extrovert means that you gain energy from being around others. The simplest way to tell which you are is to think about how you feel after being in a social situation. Do you feel pumped up, or tired?
What are some common introvert characteristics?
I’ve said it before, introverts are wide and varied people, but if you’re leaning towards introversion, you may recognise some of these introverted personality characteristics:
- You enjoy being alone (solitude)
- Being around others drains your energy
- Too much stimulation leaves you stressed (highly sensitive)
- You’re a good listener
- You’re very self-aware
- You get lost in your own thoughts (introspective)
- You’re very observant
And some fun ones:
- You screen your phone calls, even from friends
- You’ve been called an ‘old soul’ from a young age
- You’re constantly talking to yourself in your mind
- You hate small-talk
How do you know if you’re an introvert?
Introverts often grow up comparing themselves to the extroverts in their lives and as a result, end up feeling like there’s something wrong with them because they don’t fit in. The fact is that introverts and extroverts are wired differently, which is not a bad thing at all.
You may have a clue from some of the characteristics we mentioned above, but in order to determine if you’re an introvert or not, the best thing you can do is take a test.
The different types of introverts
If you go by either of the tests above, you’ll know that it’s not as simple as introvert/extrovert. They both have a wide variety of factors that determine the features of your personality. If we go by 16 Personalities (a Briggs type indicator), here are the different types of introverts:
- ISFJ, the Defender: Very dedicated and warm protectors, always ready to defend their loved ones.
- ISTJ, the Logistician: Practice and fact-minded individuals, whose reliability cannot be doubted.
- ISFP, the Adventurer: Flexible and charming artists, always ready to explore and experience something new.
- ISTP, the Virtuoso: Bold and practical experimenters, masters of all kinds of tools.
- INFJ, the Advocate: Quiet and mystical, yet very inspiring and tireless idealists.
- INTJ, the Architect: Imaginative and strategic thinkers, with a plan for everything.
- INFP, the Mediator: Poetic, kind and altruistic people, always eager to help a good cause.
- INTP, the Logician: Innovative inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
If you’ve done the test, leave your result in the comments below.
Common questions about introversion
Being an introvert raises some interesting questions. As a generally quieter type of person, introverts can appear mysterious and hard to gauge. For that reason, some of the below questions are quite common.
Can you be social as an introvert?
It’s a common misconception that introverts prefer to be alone. Sure, introverts will retreat to recharge, but that doesn’t mean they live a life of solitude.
Introverts are not necessarily shy, quiet and withdrawn either. Depending on the individual, introverts can be active and social in their circles. The only thing differing them from a social extrovert is that they will need time to recharge their energy after social situations.
In fact, introverts tend to crave genuine connection with people and thrive on that connection. It’s when social interaction involves surface level talk and interaction that introverts tend to fall back.
Can an introvert become an extrovert?
Typically when asked, this question refers to an introvert wanting to be less shy, more social and more outgoing. As previously stated, being an introvert simply means that your energy is drained when around people or stimulating situations.
There’s no reason why an introvert cannot thrive in a social setting and become a more confident person. Limiting beliefs are likely the cause of these thoughts. If this sounds like you have a read of this article: What is a limiting belief?
Can introverts do well in business?
Introverts have the ability to thrive in the business world, especially if they understand their introverted tendencies and work with them, rather than against them.
Introverts tend to suit roles which allow them to work from home or work alone. Remote jobs and work as a freelancer will usually give introverts the alone time they need to thrive. This isn’t to say that introverts can’t enjoy life in the workplace though, as long as a balance is created, introverts can thrive in any highly stimulating situation.
In fact, some of the most successful business people are introverts:
- Oprah Winfrey
- Steven Spielberg
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Marissa Mayer
- JK Rowling
- Elon Musk
If you’d like to hone your introverted business skills, here’s some further reading:
- How to Utilise Your Introvert Skills for Better Email Engagement
- Introvert Interviews: Creativity and Influence with From Bee With Love
- 5 Things Every Introverted Solopreneur Needs to Succeed
- Introvert Burnout: The Survival Guide
- One Important Skill to Master as an INFJ Business Owner
- Top 20 Introvert Quotes on Business
Some tips for introverts
As an introvert, fitting into an extroverted world can be a challenge, so the following tips are some we think will give you a boost on your introverted journey.
Utilise your self-awareness
Being self-aware means that you have an advantage when it comes to understanding yourself. Use this natural instinct and figure out what direction you want to take your life, your values and desires. Then go for it.
Love your introversion
Your introversion will bring you some challenges, but it will also allow you to get ahead if you use it right. Take a look at your personality test result, see all those positive personality traits you have? Start using them to propel your life forward easily. Stop fighting against your introversion and start embracing it.
Know what overstimulates you
We now know that introverts can get overstimulated and need to be alone to recharge. But depending on the introvert, these situations can vary. Start to notice and keep track of when you’re energy dips so that you can manage it.
If you need to attend lots of events or conferences, make sure to allocate some alone time while there to recharge. Have a demanding job which requires lots of meetings? Make sure you take breaks or talk to a manager to ask for some – the whole team will benefit.
Simplify your life
There’s nothing worse than a burnt-out and overstimulated introvert. Make sure that the things you say yes to, the tasks you’ve added to your to-do list and the path you want to take in life is as simple as it can be.
If you have too much to do, way too much going on and are constantly in busy-mode, this is when introverts fizzle out.
Reduce tasks to their simplest form, analyse if you’re overcomplicating and try to overcome perfectionism to live a simpler life free from stress.
So there we have it, a comprehensive guide on what it means to be an introvert. I’d love to know, are you an introvert? And if so, what do you love most about being one? Leave your answer in the comments below.
Featured image by Sylvie Tittel
The Introvert Solopreneur Playbook
12 days of introvert business lessons you don't want to missStart here