Extroverts have a reputation for being loud go-getters who thrive in today’s fast-paced society. These personality types tend to make their presence known, which can give them an advantage in places like the business world.
“It can be argued that … extroversion is valued over introversion. Within an increasingly technologically-connected world, there are expectations to be socially connected,” said Mark Vahrmeyer, a registered integrative psychotherapist with Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy in the U.K.
But, Vahrmeyer asked, “is extroversion something that we should all aspire to?”
Not necessarily. Experts say that an introverted personality can bring a tremendous amount of unique qualities to the table. But you wouldn’t know it with the way the two personality types are often discussed.
Extroverts can certainly benefit from hopping over to the other side at times. We spoke to an array of mental health professionals and introverts to get their take on what extroverts can stand to learn from their more reserved pals:
1. The skill of gathering thoughts before speaking
Carolyn Ball, a Denver-based psychotherapist and owner of Elevate Counseling + Wellness, said extroverts tend to process by verbalizing, working through their thoughts and coming to conclusions by speaking out loud.
“And extroverts are also quite comfortable floating multiple ideas at once with little regard for finding the right one until they have talked about them for a while,” she said.
On the other hand, introverts are internal processors who need quiet time to reflect on their thoughts and only speak once their idea is fully formed and ready to share.
“Introverts take the time to think through options before speaking and wait until they believe they have something valuable to say before speaking,” Ball said. This helps them to appear “thoughtful and composed,” she added.
2. Not worrying so much about what other people think
Extroverts, Vahrmeyer said, often have a need for social approval. They “seek reassurance about themselves from the external environment, while introverts are less dependent on this,” he said.
This is an area where extroverts can definitely learn from introverts. “The ability to self soothe and be in relationships with themselves” is something to emulate, Vahrmeyer said.
“Being in a calmer and more steady relationship with ourselves opens us up to the possibility of real connection with others without being driven by a need for approval and acceptance,” he added.
3. The value of being a good listener
Introverts tend to be more observant and are much less likely to interrupt others who are talking, which makes them excellent listeners, said Erin Nicole McGinnis, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of East West Holistic Psychotherapy in Los Angeles.
“This means that they can adequately reflect back to the talker that they are being heard,” she said.
McGinnis said that adopting better listening skills can also lead to more profound and productive discussions.
“Since introverts tend to be better listeners, they tend to have deeper and more meaningful conversations. Introverts also tend to dislike small talk because it creates a superficial barrier between people. Introverts are wired for a deeper connection and more vulnerable conversations,” she said.
4. The importance of prioritizing downtime
Joanna Penn, a self-described introvert and author of “Public Speaking For Authors, Creatives And Other Introverts,” wrote in her book about the need to recharge after a big event. When speaking at a conference, for instance, she knows that she’ll feel drained afterward and suggested that people set aside time to recover and recharge in such circumstances.
Ryan Mizzen, an introvert and co-founder of London-based cuddle therapy company, Nordic Cuddle, said he’s personally thrived after learning to say no ― in both a professional and personal capacity.
“Extroverts might be more inclined to always say yes, when they may actually need time for themselves to rest and replenish their energy,” he said, adding that reading is his go-to ritual when he needs some downtime.
5. That it’s OK to be by yourself
Spending time alone for self-growth is a crucial skill that Stephanie Johnson, a senior communications strategist in Dallas, has learned as an introvert.
“Naturally, as an introvert, I spend a lot of time in my own head and with myself,” she said. “I think that this is valuable because it allows us to not allow the tornado of distractions in daily life to overpower the real, core thoughts deep down in the mind that we need to get to.”
Johnson said that in order to be able to grow, she’s learned to be honest with herself, which requires occasional solo time.
“It’s not always pleasant or fun, but it is necessary. When we learn to love who we are ― good and bad ― without the influence of a self-created bubble or distractions from the world around us, we end up finding a real love with us,” she said.
6. The ability to respect boundaries
“Extroverts sometimes will push on an introvert to do things they don’t want to do. An introvert will pick up on that cue very quickly,” said Mary Joye, a licensed mental health counselor in Winter Haven, Florida.
Joye said introverts can teach extroverts the importance of respecting the boundaries of others. “You don’t need somebody to do something with you to enjoy it. You can just share it later,” she said.
7. The importance of hitting pause
Belinda Ginter, a mindset expert in Ontario, Canada, said extroverts have a tendency to move fast because of their boundless energy. While this isn’t necessarily a bad trait, everyone can benefit from slowing down, too.
“Introverts teach us to give ourselves time to slow down, process and think through next steps and also to enjoy the process,” she said.
Ginter added that introverts know that life can be sweeter when you take mental timeouts where you can relax, enjoy and be grateful for all you have accomplished this far. You don’t always have to be doing something.
8. How to be better at making decisions
Introverts reflect before making decisions, said Christine Agro, a meditation expert in New York who also is an introvert.
“Making decisions quickly can result in errors or missing out on better options,” she said, adding that slowing down and reflecting on the decision at hand can increase productivity and lead to greater success.
9. The benefits of slowing down and spending time in nature
“Introverts know intuitively what research has shown: Spending time among green and growing things is a wonderful mood-booster,” said Jean G. Fitzpatrick, a couples therapist in New York.
Johnson agreed. “Nature is my church. I live for my days I can spend in a state park. No pretense. No expectation. Just you and the world around you,” she said. “Listen to the birds or the breeze dancing through the branches above you. Watch the water wave and slap against rocks. Hear a bird in the distance. Just thinking about it is relaxing to me.”
10. The notion that introverts don’t need to be “fixed”
Lorraine A. McCamley, an introvert and leadership coach for “quiet professionals” at Boldly Quiet Consulting, has found that people tend to want to pull introverts out of their shell. But she said people need to learn to see the value in introverts.
“Although Americans ― particularly in the business world ― generally look for and promote [people with] more extroverted characteristics, introverts are not victims or shy or wallflowers,” she said. “We are individuals who tend to navigate the world turning inward.”
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