Introverts are incredibly fascinating people. Perhaps I feel this way because I have extroverted tendencies. Maybe an introvert would not be mesmerized by a fellow introvert the way that I am mesmerized… but I didn’t always feel this way.
A few months ago, I struggled with my perception of “the introvert.” My experience has been that he is quiet, doesn’t want to talk, makes me feel uncomfortable because he doesn’t want to talk, and it seems he could care less if he knew me or didn’t know me. This didn’t make me feel special, and I want to feel special. So, with this perception, as I came across introverts in my life, I’d give them a certain amount of time and if they didn’t open up to me, I’d move on and find someone new to engage with.
Then I started to notice how many people I am surrounded by – at work, in my family, in public – that were introverts. One of my introverted girlfriends was struggling to find ways to communicate with her significant other. I wanted to be of service to her and because I didn’t know much about introverts, I asked around about books. Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength [affiliate link]
was recommended to me by Life and Career Coach, (and introvert) Adam Rico. Since he is both an introvert and a Career/Life coach, I was sold! I bought the book that day.
This book is incredible! It is written by Psychologist, Laurie Helgoe, PhD. … And guess what? She is an introvert too! To hear about the world from this new perspective has been eye opening.
A few quick things I’ve learned:
- An introvert experiences a high level of mental arousal on an ongoing basis. She seeks to reduce the added stimulation offered by society. By contrast, extroverts who experience a low level of mental arousal, look to society for excitement.
- Introverts have direct access to an internal power – the power to birth fully formed ideas, insights, and solutions. Whereas an extrovert (at least I do this) tends to share ideas when they are barely formed, before they have time to incubate. I’ve had some ideas that I’ve nixed before they even had the chance to turn into something beautiful – simply because the person I shared my idea with shot it down. Not so, for the introvert. He will come to you with a fully thought out, carefully designed plan of action.
- An introvert needs time to think. If you ask him a question and he doesn’t respond immediately, it is not because he does not have an opinion. He is forming the thought in his head before he speaks. Allow time for this silence. Even if it’s uncomfortable for you extroverts. If you try to fill that break in conversation, you may miss out on a highly perceptive opinion. Which brings me to the next point.
- When an introvert speaks, people listen. I found this to be true growing up. There was a boy in my high school class who did not talk very much. Sometimes we’d be in the middle of a classroom debate or brainstorm session and John (name changed for privacy) would open his mouth. A hush would immediately fall over the room. If John was going to say something, we knew it was going to be good, and we wanted to hear it!
- If you really want to get to know an introvert, don’t invite her to a party and tell her it is going to be swarming with people and off-the-hook WILD! She may not show it on her face, but inside she is screaming with terror. Introverts prefer small, intimate gatherings, and the best gathering may even be one-on-one.
- Introverts reflect, while others move ahead. They invent, while others rely on what is established. They create while others consume.
This book has given me incredible insight. I highly recommend it to both an introvert, (so he can claim his inner power and make it work for him) and the extrovert, so she can better understand how to engage an introvert – perhaps start by taking the in-your-face energy level down a notch and chill the heck out. (this last one is a note-to-self).
Questions for my introvert friends: Do you feel like the above information rings true for you? What is a trait that I am missing?