In this very complicated world, being an introvert can be a huge struggle. In this posts, I will offer all the introverts out there some advice on how to thrive in a world designed for extroverts.
How to thrive as an introvert in a word designed for extroverts
‘Introvert’ is a word commonly used to describe our personality. An introvert, which is the opposite of an extrovert, is someone who is generally considered to be shy, quiet, reserved and thoughtful.
According to the type theory of personality, which includes assessments such as the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, we can only be either introverted or extroverted. According to a study by Myers-Briggs Organization, introverts make up 50.7% of the United States general population, and extroverts only 49.3%.
However, the trait theory of personality, which incorporates theories such as the Big five, argues that introversion/extroversion is in fact a spectrum. Trait theories of personality proposes that we can sit anywhere along this spectrum and a study by the American Trends Panel in 2014 found that 12% of all respondents described themselves as very extroverted, while 5% considered themselves to be very introverted. However, a huge 77% of all respondents described themselves as falling somewhere between the two extremes.
Whichever personality theory you prefer (trait or type), it doesn’t change the fact that many introverts will still struggle in a world designed for extroverts. A world that is designed to suit those who are outgoing, loud and like to be the centre of attention.
So, sit back, relax and learn the top tips on surviving in a world designed for extroverts…
Know your strengths and how these will help you thrive as an introvert
Like with anything in life, knowing your strengths can help you feel more confident. Each personality type (or trait) behaves and interacts differently. What one person is good at, the other lacks and vice versa.
Knowing the advantages of being an introvert can help you feel more confident in situations that challenge your comfort zone. Some of the main strengths that many introverts have include:
- Being able to keep calm and collected when working under pressure
- Having a quiet and empathetic temperament
- Being thoughtful and always taking the time to think before they speak
- Being observant and therefore having the excellent ability to read the room
- Managing emotions incredibly well
- Being creative thinkers and always taking the time to think things through
- Introverts are good decision makers as they prefer to rely on facts, opposed to opinions
Take a break
As an introvert, you may feel a little overwhelmed and exhausted when interacting with others. Based on this, you may need to take regular ‘breathers’ in order to re-energize and refocus.
At a party, you can do this by going to grab another drink. Or, perhaps you could take a solo trip to the bathroom or head outside for a minutes to grab some fresh air. In a business meeting or networking event, you can take five minutes to yourself by excusing yourself to grab a glass or water or to go to the bathroom.
And hey, don’t worry about vanishing for a few minutes. You’ll actually be surprised at how many people wont even notice if you’re away. They’re probably an extrovert… and they’re probably too busy talking about themselves!
Know when to say no
It can be tempting to book into many social and business events and not know when you’re stretching yourself too far.
Although being sociable and attending networking events is incredibly beneficial, it is undeniable that as an introvert, you will need to have some alone time to recharge your batteries. One of the most important skills that we can all learn (extroverts included) is to say no to events and take some time to be alone.
With this comes being selective about what events you attend. Like an iPhone on low power mode, conserve your energy for when you really need it. Pick the most important events that you will actually benefit from attending, such as your best friends birthday, a wedding or an important networking event, and then say NO to everything else. That way, when these important events come up, you’ll be feeling refreshed and ready to be pushed outside of your comfort zone.
Speak to an extrovert
Despite all humans being made up of the same stuff, an extrovert and introverts perception of the world and their communication style is incredibly different. For example, a study found that extroverts and introverts have very different verbal communication styles. Specifically, extroverts tend to communicate in more abstract terms. Whereas introverts are far more likely to focus on concrete facts.
We could all do with understanding each other a little better. So, find yourself an extrovert who is willing to talk to you (trust me, this won’t be hard!) and get them to explain to you how they see the world. By understanding the world of an extrovert, you can be more mindful of their social needs and more understanding of the way they behave.
Similarly, it will be beneficial to speak to extraverts to explain your social needs. Tell these extraverts how your perception of the world is different to theirs and how you recharge your batteries.
Don’t let extroverts overpower you
Following this piece of advice is especially important in work meetings. Introverts tend to prefer to sit back and absorb the information, take it all in and get to know the facts before speaking up. But in a world profusely designed for extroverts, it is important to learn how to share ideas when you have them.
‘Fake it till you make it’ is a great way to think about this. Don’t let opportunities pass you by because the person next to you is louder than you. For the occasional moment in meetings, fake that you’re an extrovert. Be loud and grab the attention of others. You deserve to be heard!
Find a job that suits your temperament and allows you to thrive as an introvert
Let’s face it, you can do all of the above over and over again. You can speak to every extrovert in the world. You can learn and utilize all your strengths. Or, you can fake being an extrovert in meetings.
But, you cannot (and you shouldn’t either) spend your whole life trying to be someone you’re not.
Find a job that supports your social needs. Sales, for example, is notoriously suited to extroverts who thrive off their interaction with others and a fast paced environment. Whereas working with numbers or data is more suited to an introvert.
Here, at the Career Project, we believe that matching your job to your personality (as well as looking at your skills and interests) is the key to a fulfilling career. Check our our career guides to find careers best suited to the strengths of an introvert.
On a similar note to this: find friends who match your temperament. You may always feel left behind or struggle if you are surrounding yourself with extroverts who want wild parties and loud dinners. Sometimes opposites attract, but sometimes its worth seeking friendships with those who are on the same page and enjoy the same things.
So there you have it. Six top tips designed to help introverts thrive in a world designed for extroverts.
As always, let me know about your experiences. Are you an introvert trying to survive in a loud and busy world? Do you have any tip to share with other introverts who are struggling?