Most of us think of introverted people as being quiet, timid, reserved, shy, sometimes reclusive, sometimes rude. But are they anti-social? The surprising (to extroverts) answer is No.
And most of us think of extroverted people as being the center of attention, the life of the party, happy go lucky, friendly. But always social? No.
The truth is, most of us are not introverted or extroverted all the time. We’re a combination of many personality traits including being introverted and extroverted depending upon the situation.
Scientists tell us that we all have neurotransmitters in our brains that link us to pleasure. Introverts have more acetylcholine neurotransmitters in their brains and extroverts have more dopamine neurotransmitters in theirs. Acetylcholine makes introverts feel good/pleasure when they turn inward, when they’re with one, two or a small group of friends, when they’re alone to think about information or solutions or concepts before making a decision. Introverts need time alone to regenerate the energy they expend in social and/or highly stimulating situations whereas extroverts rely on dopamine which motivates them to seek being in the middle of highly charged situations and external rewards.
At work, introverts tend to work hard to get the job done and mind their own business. They tend not to get involved with office politics or gossip or trying to be the most liked mostly because they don’t want to take time away from getting the work done. That’s not to say that introverts don’t make friends at work…they do make friends and the friendships they have are close ones. It’s also not to say that introverts are shy about presenting themselves or their own point of view. Rather, they prefer to say things that are constructive or meaningful or to say things “when it counts.” To introverts, actions speak louder than words.
In relationships and non-working situations, introverts tend to enjoy spending quality time with one or two people in a space with minimal distractions. And just because introverts need more “alone” time than extroverts, that need to be alone does not translate into their being distant or non-communicative or unloving. In fact, introverts prefer that the people they love have the spotlight, that their partners shine and that they’ll do their best to accommodate their partner’s needs over their own.
Introverts will do what it takes to get the job done, whether that job is socializing with clients or making a speech at a fundraising event or making small talk with their partner’s friends. They may need to regenerate or reboot themselves by themselves afterwards but introverts are more than willing to do whatever it takes…even if it means that someone may mistake them for being an extrovert.