Letting go of the past is not always easy. Two women with different stories sit in my therapy office. They represent many who struggle with shame. One describes how premarital sexual memories haunt her in the bedroom with her husband. She has tried to put those images out of her head, but they become intrusive […]
A friend of mine once remarked, “You are so outgoing. I wish I was more like that.” She considers herself an introvert and wanted to push herself to be more social. She insists I have the advantage in life because of how easily I make friends and talk to people. But I reminded her, there are pros and cons for both extroverts and introverts. Here are a few pros for introverts that surprised her.
Let’s say you are at a party and trying to size up a few people in the room.
Who would you ask for an opinion? The extrovert or introvert?
Better observers: Do you think this answer seems obvious? After all, the extrovert is interacting with a number of people and must have a read on most of them. But if you answered the introvert, you got it right. As it turns out, introverts are more natural at reading people. The reason? Well, they aren’t spending much of their energy interacting with people, rather they using it to observe others. They notice body language and facial expression. And all that observing gives them insight into people.
Better in a crisis: So while my friend would like to be more socially engaging at the party, she doesn’t realize another strength she has when it comes to watching and observing people. In fact, because of her natural sitting back, she may even be better in a crisis than an extrovert. Here is why. Rather than being chatty with the group, her time is spent quietly assessing the problem and thinking of ways to solve it. Additionally, her quiet demeanor is not upsetting those around her. Rather when the going gets tough and a crisis arises, the introvert gets going in a calm, methodical way. She moves people through the crisis based on her assessments and observations. And because of that demeanor, people usually cooperate. Whereas, an overly assertive extrovert can be too dominating, bristling feathers of those who need to follow.
Better listeners: Introverts are also good listeners. Even though they charge their batteries by being alone, when they do engage with you, they are all in terms of listening. This makes them great friends with whom to process life. Unlike the extrovert who is processing out loud, introverts are processing internally allowing them to really hear what you have to say. And that quality of listening makes a good friend feel supported.
So cheer up all you wallflowers! Focus on the advantages of needing to recharge alone but then engage with others. It’s a beautiful thing!