3 things people often misunderstand about Introverts

Dr Angelina Bennet, June 2023 

What is meant by the term Introvert?

Introversion, as defined in the Myers-Briggs Types, is rather different to what we may mean in our everyday use of the word ‘Introvert’. 

In the Myers-Briggs, Introversion is about wanting to take some time to mentally process information before taking action or speaking out.  This can mean that Introverts can often do more listening than talking, or take time to get involved in group conversations.

However, some people misinterpret these behaviours as they are not always aware of what is going on below the surface. 


So here are 3 things that people often get wrong about Introverts:  

1. Introverts are anti-social

When meeting new people or being in groups, Introverts may take time to join in conversations and appear to be observing from a distance rather than connecting with others. It’s not uncommon for people to even describe them as ‘aloof’.

This is not an indication of anti-social behaviour, but a result of the Introverts’ preference for listening to others until they spot something in the conversation that they can easily talk about or connect to.  Most Introverts despise ‘small talk’ and feel very uncomfortable trying to keep up a conversation that they view as superficial.  So, they like to talk about actual topics and enjoy conversations that have a degree of depth to them. That being said, if they find a common interest with someone they are meeting for the first time, they can get into deep conversation and connect very quickly. 

2. Introverts lack confidence

On a similar note, most Introverts tend to wait to be invited into conversations rather than initiating them and may contribute less frequently in discussions. Often they are also more concise and quietly spoken in their contributions.  This can come across as a lack of confidence, when it is, in fact, a result of their tendency to listen more than talk, and to think about what they want to say, particularly when they are with people they are less familiar with.

Confidence is a separate personality trait that can be found in as many Extraverts as Introverts, although Extraverts may experience it on more of an inner level, so it may not be as evident to others when an Extraverted person is lacking confidence.   

3. Introverts are shy 

Most Introverts tend to use fairly closed body language and small gestures as compared to Extraverts; for example, often having their arms folded or keeping their hands held together.  They also tend to be comfortable in their own company for longer periods than Extraverts.  From the outside, this can look like shyness, when it is, in fact a physical expression of the more internalised energy that Introverts have.

Additionally, they tend to require a little more personal space than Extraverts, and can feel overwhelmed by people who get too physically close or who talk at them intensely. Again, this is about having a ‘contained’ energy and not an expression of shyness. Interestingly, a lot of the most elaborate musicians and actors in the world are known to be Introverts; when performing, they can take centre stage and be very out-going.  However, after the performance they are often found taking some quiet time to re-charge.  


To find out more about your own Introversion and Extraversion, why not take the free personality quiz, watch the explainer videos and download your Type report.

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