- To spend time with people is a preference rather than a necessity. This is one thing that is consistently misunderstood about introverts. We like to spend time with people, but in small doses. Generally, an introvert is so comfortable with his or her own company, that the need to engage other people isn’t necessary. (Don’t worry. We’ll let you know when it happens.) When we do want the company, we’re 100% committed.
- Listening to other people is a strength. I mean, a person who does not have much to say to begin with will be quiet and allow you to speak freely.
- We notice everything. Introverts are observers. Extroverts look for others to speak their truth. Introverts look for people to show their truth. As an introvert, I learn more about a person by what he or she is silent about, than I do from the words they have spoken. Introverts have mastered the art of non-verbal communication, and while a person’s words may be on target, his or her demeanor tells an entirely different story. (If a person thinks that he or she has us fooled, that is rarely–if ever–the case. We may not be able to call you, but you can guarantee that we have your number!)
- We are adaptable. In order to survive a world that caters to extroverts, introverts have had to learn how to override his or her personal comfort settings. For example, I hate small talk. I’m not a fan of insincere flattery, and I don’t understand the need to gossip because it is just meanness and speculation with no real purpose. However, I have learned to disregard some of the things that make me uncomfortable, to the point where they no longer annoy me. I may hate small talk, but working in retail taught me that I can have several meaningless conversations a day (which occasionally drift into more meaningful topics), without any adverse effects. Now I see gossip as a bonding experience (albeit, a destructive bonding experience) rather than a stupid way for envious and insecure people to feel better about themselves.
- It is easy for us to focus on tasks. I learned to screen out distractions from an early age. I grew up in a very large, very extroverted extended family. At first, it was difficult being “the quiet one”, but having to spend my afternoons in a loud, boisterous household has helped me fine-tune the ability to block out noise and commotion. (Sidenote: I’ve been playing brain-training games on Lumosity for 6 months. My best areas of cognitive function are Memory, Flexibility/Multi-Tasking, and Attention. All are inherent traits of introverted people) Distracted? Not unless I want to be.
- We love deep, soul-searching conversations. Introverts may hate small talk, and the unimportant details of other people’s lives, but discussions that involve weightier topics, like politics, equality, and the meaning of life, are like pure gold. When you need a person to listen to you while you figure out what your life’s purpose is, ask an introvert. We love that stuff.
In a society where the phrase, “He kept to himself” is a euphemism for, “He was bat-crap insane”, introversion is greeted with suspicion. Since we don’t reveal much, people jump to their own conclusions about whom we are. If you really want to know what makes the introvert in your life tick, just ask. Be warned that the full answer may take years to reveal, that is, the introvert trusts you. If you are not a trusted ally, you will only be privy to the version of them that the introvert wants you to see, which brings me to my bonus great thing about introversion: Compartmentalization.