What is the difference between extroverts vs. introverts?

The terms introvert and extrovert are commonly thrown out for someone who keeps to themselves or, conversely, for someone who is highly social. The truth is that that’s incorrect. Extroversion and introversion live on two opposite ends of a spectrum. The way you get and put out energy helps determine where you fall on this spectrum. But you can fall anywhere on this spectrum, not necessarily at one end or the other. Just because you keep to yourself does not automatically make you an introvert and because of this we will better define extroverts and introverts.

What it means to be more extroverted

People who tend to fall near the extrovert end of things draw their energy from the outside world: the people, places, and things around them. You can determine where you fall on the spectrum by seeing what traits you carry. 

You enjoy working in a group

Extroverted people tend to feel most comfortable when working with other people, whether the task is a work project, party planning with friends, or a school assignment.

You’re always ready to try something new

Extroverts tend to take action rather than ponder. Once you decide to do something, you usually just go for it without worrying too much about what might happen.

You may not spend a lot of time considering all potential outcomes, and people might even describe you as impulsive.

Talking through a problem often helps you solve it

Extroverted people often find it easier to understand and solve problems when they can talk through them, restate them in their own words, or seek input from other people.

Say you’re dealing with a homework assignment, sticky situation with a friend, or tough task at work. Do you talk about it to as many people as you can to get different perspectives? Sort through your thoughts out loud? If so, you’re likely more of an extrovert.

You find it easy to express yourself

Extroverted people usually have little to no trouble expressing thoughts, feelings, and opinions. These can range from minor preferences, such as the foods you dislike, to deeper emotions, including romantic feelings.

Spending time alone can drain you

Extroverted people recharge best in the company of other people. You might move from one social setting to another, like to have people around you most of the time, and avoid spending time by yourself whenever possible.

“If spending time with other people energizes you after a long, stressful day, you’re likely more extroverted,” MacCutcheon explains.

You find the good in everything

Keep in mind that being optimistic doesn’t have to mean you’re relentlessly cheerful and never sad. If something bad happens, it still affects you, but you may have an easier time finding silver linings in a negative situation. You’re also more likely to focus on those and bounce back more readily when something bad happens instead of feeling drained and overwhelmed.

You make friends easily

Extroverted people are generally known to be very sociable.

If you fall on this end of the spectrum, you might:

  • have a large circle of friends
  • enjoy meeting new people
  • find it easy to have heart to heart conversations with strangers or people you don’t know very well

What it means to be an introvert

Individuals that tend to lean o the introverted end of the spectrum sometimes get a bad rap.

It’s often said that they’re:

But these characteristics don’t really have anything to do with introversion, which simply means your energy comes from within — instead of from people and things around you.

You consider things carefully

When faced with a new opportunity, or any big decision, you probably spend a good amount of time thinking it over before you make any plans to proceed.

People with a more action-oriented approach may not always understand why you devote so much time to reflect, but this tendency to look before you leap may help you feel confident you’re making the right choice for yourself.

You prefer to avoid conflict

Generally speaking, introverted people are less likely to strike up conversations with people they don’t know well, or even with people they do know well. This can relate to a preference for internal dialogue and reflection. However, a dislike of conflict can also play a part.

Research suggests introverts often have a higher sensitivity to negative feedback. If you’re worried someone might criticize you or view you in a bad light, you won’t have much interest to put yourself in any situation that leads to that outcome.

You’re good at visualizing and creating

People on the more introverted end of the spectrum often spend a lot of time in their heads. Your friends and loved ones might say you’re always off in your own world, or something along those lines.

You’re a natural listener

If you’re introverted, socializing can drain your natural energy reserves, so you prefer to listen and absorb what’s happening around you.

The myth that introverts are shy or socially anxious stems from this natural tendency to quietly observe.

You need plenty of time for yourself

Needing to recharge your batteries after a long day by enjoying some quiet downtime alone tends to suggest an introverted nature, according to MacCutcheon.

This doesn’t mean you always avoid people, but you probably don’t have a large social network. Instead, you most likely share your available social energy with a handful of close friends.

Since it’s a spectrum you can be both

 If you read all of the traits and realized you have a bit of both you may be an ambivert. Ambiversion describes a personality style that lies somewhere in between introversion and extroversion. If you’re an ambivert, you’re closer to the middle of the spectrum, so you might feel more introverted at times and extroverted at others. There’s no right or wrong so embrace whichever one you are.

Source: Crystal Raypole (2019), Extroverts, Introverts, and Everything in Between; Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/extrovert-vs-introvert.

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