The difference between introversion vs. extroversion
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 26 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When describing yourself or other people, you may have used the terms introversion and extroversion. While both introverts and extroverts have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, there are some key differences between these two types that help you determine which best describes you. A successful team is usually made up of both introverts and extroverts, so this is worth considering whether you're a manager or a team member. In this article, we examine the key differences between introversion vs. extroversion, explore which might best describe you and discuss how to deal with these personality types in the workplace.
The origins of introversion vs. extroversion
Introversion vs. extroversion are two general terms used to describe a person's social behaviour. In the world of psychology, there are a number of different theories and concepts that help explain human behaviour. One of the most widely known is Carl Jung's Introvert-Extrovert dichotomy. According to Jung, everyone falls somewhere on a continuum between introversion and extroversion. The introvert-extrovert dichotomy has been widely studied by psychologists in the decades since.
While everyone has both introverted and extroverted qualities, most people tend to lean more towards one end of the spectrum. This explains why some people feel energised by social interactions while others prefer to spend time alone. It also explains why some people are more comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings while others prefer to keep them to themselves.
What is introversion?
Introversion is a personality trait that refers to a person's preference for internal stimulation over external stimulation. Introverts tend to be more inwardly focused and think more deeply about things than extroverts. They're often more reflective and reserved in their behaviour, and they generally prefer quiet settings over bustling environments. While introverts make up only a small percentage of the population, you're likely to come across them in all walks of life. Despite popular belief, introverts aren't necessarily shy or anti-social, but rather they simply prefer to spend their time in quieter, more reflection-oriented activities.
Introversion means focusing on internal thoughts and feelings. Introverts tend to find large gatherings or social situations draining. Many introverts are highly creative, and they often excel in fields that require deep thought and concentration. In today's extroverted world, it's sometimes easy to forget that introversion is a valuable personality trait.
What is extroversion?
Extroversion is a personality trait characterised by a preference for social interaction and stimulation. People who are extroverts tend to be outgoing, talkative and assertive. They often enjoy being around people and thrive in social situations. Extroverted individuals usually prefer being around others and enjoy activities such as attending parties, going out on dates and giving speeches. They may also be more likely to take risks and seek new experiences.
Extroverts tend to get their energy from being around others, while introverts are more interested in spending time alone. While extroversion is typically seen as a positive trait, it's worth noting that there's no such thing as an ideal personality type.
Key differences between introverts and extroverts
Although it's important not to oversimplify the concepts of introversion and extroversion, there are some general differences in how each type might approach basic tasks. For example, when it comes to decision-making, introverts may take longer to come to a conclusion, while extroverts may act more quickly on instinct. Extroverts may be more open to spontaneous communication, while introverts may be more withdrawn or considerate. Introverts and extroverts may also adapt to changing circumstances in different ways, by changing their schedules or relishing new opportunities as appropriate.
Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, but there are some who lean one way over the other. The key is not to generalise. It's not necessarily true that introverts don't like people or that extroverts are excessively sociable, but rather it's a matter of where they get their energy from.
Which personality are you?
There's no single answer to whether you're more extroverted or introverted, but there are a few key questions you can ask to help you work out which personality type you most identify with. For example:
Do you feel energised after spending time with other people, or do you find yourself needing some alone time to recharge?
Do you often find yourself talking more than others in social situations, or do you tend to be more of a listener?
Do you prefer to plan out your personal and professional life in advance with space for social opportunities, or do you prefer to focus on independent activities?
If you find yourself answering 'yes' to most of these questions, you're likely more of an extrovert. If you find yourself answering 'no' to most of these questions, then you might be more introverted. If you answered with a mixture of 'yes' and 'no' or felt that you needed a middle option, you may consider yourself an ambivert instead. An ambivert is someone who doesn't strongly identify as either an introvert or an extrovert. Instead, they tend to fall somewhere between the two personality types.
How to handle the strengths and weaknesses of introversion
Being an introvert has its advantages and disadvantages. Introverts can be great listeners and deeply thoughtful people. They're also usually very good at focusing on one task at a time and having great attention to detail. Introverts are also sometimes overwhelmed in large groups or noisy environments and they may find it difficult to assert themselves or speak up.
If you're an introvert, a few exercises may make things easier for you. They include:
Schedule some alone time every day, even if it's just 15 minutes. This helps you recharge and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Identify situations that trigger your introversion and devise escape routes or coping methods. For example, if you're going to a networking event or delivering a presentation, try to give yourself set times where you can collect yourself and prepare your notes.
While working on group projects, offer to take on sections by yourself so you can occasionally work alone.
How to handle the strengths and weaknesses of extroversion
Extroverts also have strengths and weaknesses. Extroverts are usually seen as outgoing and sociable. These two qualities help them build personal and professional relationships. They may also find it easier to assert themselves and be less easily intimidated. Some extroverts can seem bossy or brash and they may have difficulty respecting personal boundaries. Additionally, their need for constant stimulation may sometimes lead to impulsive decision-making.
The following steps can help extroverts:
Take a moment to be more aware of personal boundaries and think before speaking or acting.
Engage with what you're good at, such as speaking, networking and negotiating, and volunteer to take on these tasks at work.
As extroverts often struggle to work alone, consider working alongside your colleagues, whether you're on the same project or not.
Comparing the benefits of either personality in the workplace
In a working environment, extroverts are typically seen as ideal employees because they're outgoing, confident and able to work well in team settings. Remember that introverts have a lot to offer in the workplace. They're often thoughtful, detail-oriented and good at working independently. In recent years, there's been a growing movement to embrace the strengths of introverts in the workplace. Some organisation are rethinking their office layouts to provide more opportunities for solo work, and they're reconsidering the way they structure team projects. Overall, there's value in both introversion and extroversion in the workplace.
Dealing with introverts at work
Introverts are often misunderstood in the workplace. As they tend to be quiet and more reserved, they're often seen as aloof or uninterested in their colleagues. In truth, many introverts are actually very friendly and may bring unique perspectives to a discussion. The key to dealing with introverted colleagues is to respect their need for alone time and to be patient when communicating with them.
Dealing with extroverts at work
Working with extroverted colleagues can be both challenging and rewarding. While extroverts tend to be very outgoing and sociable, this may make it difficult for others to make themselves heard. Although some extroverts might be fun to work with, at times, it helps to be firm with your personal boundaries. One way to work with extroverted colleagues is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with them. This gives you a chance to voice your ideas without interruption and allows your colleagues to share their thoughts and opinions in an environment where they feel less restricted.
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