8 Things That Aren’t True About Introverts

introvertIntroverts get a bum rap sometimes. They really do. And it’s even worse because a lot of times it’s for stuff they don’t even earn. It’s for characteristics that we (generally) attribute to them. Here are some of the culprits.

1. You can always tell if someone’s an introvert.

False. An individual being outgoing and engaging in the workplace does not necessarily mean they’re an extrovert, and someone not being the life of the party (or meeting) all the time doesn’t necessarily make them an introvert. Truth be told, there are probably at least a handful of folks you rub shoulders with pretty regularly that you believe to be extroverts, but in actuality they’re introverts, or vice versa.

2. Introverts generally don’t like people.

This one really bugs me. If you push on the logic behind this assumption, it’s really a bit silly. The argument goes something like this:

Premise: Introverts are quieter than others, and don’t appear to want to be in groups as much as others.

Premise: People who are quieter than others and don’t want to be in groups as much as others may not like people.

Conclusion: Therefore, introverts must not like other humans.

That, ladies and gents, is what we call a non sequitur.

But take it even further. If it’s really those things–being more outgoing and all that–that determine whether people like other people, wouldn’t we then have to say that the people who really like other people are going to be the most outgoing and loudest and most sociable humans on the planet? And if you’re anything less than that, you must not like people as much as they do, right? I mean, that’s the logic being applied to introverts in many cases. Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?

3. Since introverts don’t like people (#2 above), they generally don’t like talking to people.

(Sigh) Argumentum ad ignorantiam.

4. Introverts are shy.introvert-manifesto

While this may be true with some, it’s certainly not true with all. It’s not one of those oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-going-to-do-if-I-have-to-talk-in-public kind of things. It’s often more like one of those man-it-was-awesome-sharing-my-thoughts-with-that-group-but-now-I-need-a-nap things.

5. Introverts aren’t socially adept.

Repeat after me: Being louder doesn’t necessarily equate to being more socially adept. Some of the very best “people people” I know are introverts. And some of the people who are the most deluded about how amazingly socially adept they think they are, are extroverts. True story.

6. Introverts are odd.

Because you’re the standard of normal, right?

7. Introverts are too distant.

What you call distant may actually be them very much in the moment. Listening. Absorbing. Taking in every nuance of what someone is saying and how they’re saying it. Reading body language around the room. Conceptualizing something in their head. They may very well be more “there” than the one who feels the need to talk every two seconds because that one isn’t really paying attention to what others are saying. He’s just counting to two and trying to remember his next line.

8. Introverts would be more effective if they were extroverts.

I used to buy into this one. Now, not so much. I think people are most effective when they’re themselves, whatever that happens to mean. Don’t pressure introverts to be extroverts. Why on earth would you want an organization or team full of extroverts?

Thank goodness for variety.

24 comments

  1. Lisa Kuhn Phillips says:

    Great post, Matt. Ambivert is how I roll.

  2. Excellent post! There are so many incorrect and exaggerated assumptions about introverts. If everyone really understood introverts, we’d all want to be one. ;-)

    • Matt Monge says:

      Ha! Nice. You’re right though–one I wish I’d included, but maybe will do a separate post on, is that introverts don’t or can’t or won’t have fun. :)

  3. Karaoke says:

    I read that most top-level executives are extroverts. And all I could think was no wonder businesses constantly make myopic, boneheaded decisions….

    • Matt Monge says:

      I think more execs think they are or want to be extroverts than actually are, but your point is well taken.

  4. Stacy says:

    This is so true. I remember when I was a teenager, sometimes I was mistaken for being a snob because I was so quiet.

    One great thing about being quiet is that when I do speak up, people pay attention!

    • Matt Monge says:

      Fantastic point, Stacy. It really challenges us to be careful with assumptions, doesn’t it? Folks who happen to be a bit quieter aren’t necessarily snobbish just like people who are loud aren’t necessarily loud-mouthed fools. :)

  5. Heath Davis Havlick says:

    Hurrah! NO ONE believes I’m an introvert, but it’s true. I used to be the kid who crossed the street to avoid small talk, but I’ve learned to adapt (be a “pretend-extrovert”). That’s actually made my life a lot easier out in the world, but I can’t wait to get home and be quiet again. I’m a PR person, so I hope that shatters another myth. :)

    • Matt Monge says:

      Very cool, Heath. There are far more closet introverts out there than people think. There’s just been so much societal and workplace engineering that’s taught us that somehow being extroverted is advantageous, so…we “decide to be extroverted.”

    • katia says:

      hoowww Heath ??? I really need to learn that, I have huge problems at my work for being an Introvert

  6. Ken Gardner says:

    @stacy I’ve had similar experiences as an introvert myself. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but on several occasions I’ve “shocked” some people because they underestimated my abilities. It makes me laugh sometimes when I see people discount other introverts. If they only knew what was going on in our heads…

    • Matt Monge says:

      Too funny, Ken. It goes back to that assumption thing that was mentioned in a previous comment. Just because someone doesn’t blab their genius out loud all the time doesn’t mean it’s not there. :)

  7. Great post Matt! I used to buy into #8 too. Not any more :O)

  8. Alen Mayer says:

    Great post!
    I am an introvert in the most extroverted line of business – selling. Every day people teach introverts to become extroverts, to be louder, faster in sharing their opinion, or “just do it” style of doing business without any thinking involved.
    Introverts commit to idea before speaking, they learn by reflecting on experience.
    Introverts learn by listening. Unfortunately, looks like in today’s business world listening and understanding your client’s needs is overrated. Sales people are still pitching instead of listening and asking questions.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Alen
    Chief Sales Introvert

  9. [...] this post, we talked about how introverts sometimes get a bad rap, particularly in the workplace. I think we [...]

  10. Marc Riley says:

    Interesting post for sure and I know what introverts aren’t, and what not to assume about them, but I guess I don’t really know what introverts are! I’d be interested to see an introverts definition of introversion.
    I may even be one! Certainly have never felt extrovert.
    Apologies for the ignorance, just an interested reader.
    Thanks.
    Marc

  11. [...] comes with its own special social stigma. I recently read a brilliant blog post called, “8 Things That Aren’t True About Introverts.” We aren’t shy, socially awkward, antisocial outcasts. I don’t hate people, I [...]

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  13. Susan Birkenshaw says:

    I know that I’ve lived and thrived in my life as an extrovert but have learned just how much I love to live my introvert skin when my brain is on overwhelm! Love the idea of creating an ambivert club!

  14. [...] think, think. They might even be what some would call a bit of an “odd duck” or maybe an introvert. And just as you’re about to whisper to your colleague that Mr. Ideation over there wastes so [...]

  15. Jacob Schwartz says:

    Another common one that you missed is that a lot of people think we are anti-social. Actually, we are VERY social. If you get us into to deep conversation about intellectual, deep, controversial topics, it’s like wow! It actually speaks! My mother always nags me about how I’m anti-social and I need to “get out” more like the fact that 12 hours at a 1500 student public school isn’t enough.

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