There seem to be more people who buy into introvert stereotypes than there are who believe the stereotypes and myths about extroverts, but that does not mean that there are not painful misconceptions surrounding extroverts. There are also plenty of people who buy into those myths. Some of them are introverts, but others are more introverted extroverts. Regardless of where a person falls on the introversion–extroversion scale, there is no excuse for believing stereotypes wholesale. All that does it hurt others. Here are five misconceptions that drive extroverts crazy when other people believe them.
“Extroverts are attention hogs.”Extroverts are known for being on the gregarious side. Extroversion usually comes with a greater willingness to stand in the limelight and put themselves out there. People who are more introverted, on the other hand, tend to be less comfortable being the center of attention. That does not mean, however, that every introvert is a wallflower or that every extrovert would happily jump on a table and give an impromptu speech. Extroverts tend to enjoy attention, but they are more than capable of stepping aside when it is someone else’s turn to be in the limelight. There is a large different between being comfortable being the center of attention and being willing to step over others to get there. The former is more commonly associated with being an extrovert. The latter simply means the person is a selfish jerk.
“Extroverts are clingy.”Extroverts need to be around people. That is how they get their energy and motivation. If they are left alone for too long, they feel depressed and lonely. Social interaction helps them recharge their batteries and recover the energy they expended at work, dealing with drama in their relationship or handling other emotionally taxing tasks. This means that extroverts are generally more likely to text or call and try to make plans with a person. They are more likely to reach out to others and try to spend time with them. Extroverts crave time with people. That does not mean, however, that they are unwilling to spend time by themselves or that they are incapable of functioning alone. It simply means that if given a choice, they would prefer to be with people. Extroversion is not the reason a person is clingy any more than introversion is responsible for someone being shy or socially awkward. Such things are born more from insecurities or bad past experiences than something as innate as extroversion or introversion.
“Extroverts don’t listen.”Everyone has probably heard the stereotype. Introverts are better listeners, and extroverts are better talkers. There is some truth to this statement, but when taken at face value, such a binary suggests that introverts are incapable of having a silver tongue and that extroverts cannot develop good listening skills. Extroverts are more than capable of being good listeners. For some of them, it may not come as naturally as it does for introverts, but just because someone had to work at a skill does not negate the fact that they managed to develop it. Some of this stereotype might also come from the way introverts and extroverts tend to work through problems. Introverts will sit quietly and work through the problem in their own head which leaves them more likely to listen to a friend and digest what they are hearing. An extrovert, on the other hand, usually does more of their thinking out loud. They like to bounce ideas off other people. This means when a friend is talking to them about a problem, the extrovert might do more talking or ask more questions simply because they are trying to help their friend work through the issue in the same way the extrovert does themselves.
“Extroverts are not creative.”The stereotypes of introverts and extroverts are often drawn along clear lines. Introverts are shy but wildly creative. They are the poet sitting alone by the window crafting beautiful lines. Extroverts, on the other hand, are showy and down to earth. They are a social butterfly but are firmly anchored in this world instead of their imagination. While it is true that creativity requires stretches of the quiet time that comes more easily to introverts, extroverts are more than capable of being creative. They might simply find their creativity in the midst of social stimulation rather than quiet moments to themselves.
“Extroverts are shallow.”If introverts are seen as having a deep, meaningful, secretive internal life, then the flip side is that extroverts are all show and no substance. This, of course, is deeply insulting. Extroversion does not mean that a person is shallow, and it is ludicrous to imply such a thing. Extroverts are usually more comfortable with small talk than introverts, that is true, but being more willing and able to make small talk at a cocktail party does not mean that an extrovert is incapable of or does not crave deeper, more meaningful conversations.
Extroverts are victims of stereotyping just like introverts. The stereotypes may be different, but that does not make them any less hurtful. Extroversion is a tendency, not a personality trait in the way they are normally understood. “Extrovert” may be a label, but it is not a complete identity. It is part of a spectrum that is filled with wildly individual people who all express their extroversion in a different way. They may all be extroverts, but there is no group on earth that is exactly the same. Individuals are too unique for that to be possible.