Introverts seem to be on the receiving end of a number of unpleasant stereotypes. When people hear the word “introvert,” they tend to picture a person who is shy, reserved, socially awkward. They think of someone who is artistic but has poor social skills and who tends to spend a lot of time alone in their room. This, of course, is nothing but a caricature of an introvert. It is true that introverts tend to be less talkative or outgoing than extroverts, but many introverts are the life of the party and fully capable of talking a friend’s ear off. No one with any sense believes stereotypes wholeheartedly, but some aspects of those stereotypes are more persistent than others. Here are five misconceptions that drive introverts crazy.
“Introverts have no social skills.”Introverts are seen as being socially awkward. The fact that they do not revel in large parties and are less likely to enjoy group outings than extroverts has left some people convinced that introverts simply do not know how to join in and enjoy those things. After all, why would an introvert not have a good time trying to keep up six surface conversations as once in a crush of people? Some people see introverts’ quietness or tendency to stay on the edge of a group as a simple inability to join in. Such people often have good intentions when they try to teach introverts the skill they feel the introverts are lacking, but all it does is insult everyone involved. Introverts have plenty of social skills, and many are highly accomplished speakers. They simply practice their skills a little differently than more gregarious extroverts.
“Introverts are always reserved.”Introverts have a reputation for being shy and reserved. Shyness, however, is born more of insecurity or bad past experiences than introversion. Introverts simply tend to keep their cards close until they are certain that they can trust others. They also have a tendency to dislike small talk or surface conversations. As such, many introverts will keep quiet until they feel that they have something worthwhile to add to a conversation. That said, when people are discussing a topic in which an introvert is interested, an introvert will happily talk the ear off of everyone involved. In addition, there are many introverts who are extroverted introverts. This means that they need quiet time to recharge, but when they are socializing, they act more like an extrovert. They will be the life of the party while they are out, but they will need some time to themselves when they get home.
“Introverts just need help coming out of their shells.”Society tends to put extroversion up on a pedestal. Think about it. Fun, outgoing, strong and independent are all words that people want to have describe them. They are also words that tend to bring to mind a big personality that can dominate a room when the person walks through the door. In other words, the words bring to mind an extrovert. People hear the word “fun,” and they think of wild parties and loud laughter from a large group even if they would personally prefer a small get together with a few close friends. This can lead people to believe that introverts would all be better off as extroverts if they could simply come out of their shells. The sheer number of movies that seem to portray this change does not help. Shyness, however, is not the same as introversion. Introverts do not need fixing because there is nothing wrong with them. Preferring to relax after a long day at work is not somehow lesser than going out with friends. Neither extroverts nor introverts are superior. Both are simply descriptors for a wide range of individuals with their own skills and struggles.
“Introverts can’t lead.”Introverts are generally believed to be quiet and reserved. People think of leaders as being big and bold. In reality, however, not all leaders are loud, not all introverts are quiet and leadership has nothing to do with extroversion or introversion. Introverts are more than capable of leading. Introverts tend to be better listeners and will not compete with others for the spotlight. This enables them to hear other’s concerns clearly and address them. Introverts also tend to have a quiet confidence and rely less on others to discuss matters with when making decisions. Sadly, the idea that introverts cannot lead is a deeply entrenched one that has damaged the careers of numerous introverts.
“Introverts are pushovers.”Given that introverts are normally perceived as quiet and shy, it is no surprise that people assume that introverts are incapable of standing up for themselves. In reality, extroverts are just as likely to be doormats as introverts. Introverts simply look like better targets as they are less likely to be the center of attention. A properly riled introvert, however, will easily give as good as they get. They can, and will, both start and finish fights just like anyone else on the planet.
Introverts are not a single homogenous group. Introversion is a tendency, not an identity in and of itself. There are introverts who fit the stereotype perfectly and those who abandon it utterly and completely. Introverts are just as diverse of a group as any other. After all, labels do not determine how a person thinks or acts. That is dependent on each individual, not whatever identity groups of which they happen to be a part.