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Dealing with intense social interactions is hard for introverts. While communication is essential to life, it can be more exhausting for some people than others based on individual differences. Yet, introverts are still competent as long as there is flexible accommodation.
Introversion is “the state of being turned inward or upon oneself or itself,” and one’s preference or orientation to their thoughts and reflections, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. On the other hand, extroversion indicates the tendency to gain gratification through social engagement.
While introversion and extroversion are two sides of the same continuum, being introverted doesn’t equal being unwilling to engage with the community or care less about interactions.
Introverted people can feel drained and exhausted after navigating their social lives, whereas extroverts draw energy from it, according to Psychology Today. Spending time alone recharges introverted people and prepares them for further social activities.
Korean reality show MBTI Inside demonstrates differences between introverts and extroverts. The show arranges participants’ residence areas based on their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator survey results, a personality assessment tested on their natural psychological preferences.
Extroverted people in the show tend to adapt to unfamiliar situations quickly through active social interactions. They are relaxed and talkative when sharing a room with other people.
On the contrary, introverted ones can get along with silence. They familiarize themselves with the environment through observation. Group communication seems intense and takes significant energy to process.
Professor of Psychology Steve Rouse teaches Personality Psychology.He said introversion and extroversion are not categorical differences but dimensional differences.
“There are some people [who] are extremely introverted,” Rouse said. “There are other people who are extremely extroverted. Most people are really in the middle range.”
Rather than believing that either side is inherently better, we should recognize that both sides of the continuum have their strength and weaknesses.
“An introverted person tends to be more likely to focus on the other person’s interests and needs during a conversation,” Rouse said. “And that is very beneficial because it can build collaboration.”
Oftentimes, the US culture values assertiveness and confidence — two attributes of extroversion. Extroverted, more conscientious and less agreeable men start to have a higher annual income in their 30s, according to a 2018 study on Labour Economics.
“Within the United States, extroversion is more valued than introversion is, even if people don’t overtly recognize that,” Rouse said. “If we look worldwide, though, those assumptions are not held in every culture.”
Additionally, the need for recharge doesn’t always undermine professionalism. Alumna Katai Mutale (23’), Campus Ministries Coordinator of the Hub for Spiritual Life and a Relationship IQ program intern, shared her experience coping with introversion at work.
Mutale said her two positions involve her favorite aspects of communication: interpersonal and spiritual. Yet, she occasionally feels drained.
“As an introvert, I feel most recharged when I’m by myself,” Mutale said.
In the morning, Mutale said she stayed in the chapel to recharge. To balance the exhaustion from work, she uses breaks and less busy hours to reflect and prepare.
Director of Campus Ministries Cameron Gilliam offered his view on expanding the variety of ministry frameworks. He said he considers himself more of an extrovert, but acknowledges that providing options other than public gatherings helps accommodate the wider needs of students.
Gilliam said one-on-one paired mentorship with a faculty or staff presents alternatives to convocations for those who prefer smaller groups.
“If there is some social anxiety that has normally precluded someone’s ability to talk about the weightier things that are going on in their life, a format like one-on-one could maybe unlock some of that ability to have those kinds of conversations that they wouldn’t otherwise,” Gilliam said.
It is important to recognize our characteristics and intentionally adapt them if necessary. Rouse said the responsibility to adjust communication styles falls on different sides of the conversation. For introverts, it is learning to push through discomfort and assert their views.
On the other hand, “The responsibility for extroverted people is to evaluate their presence in a conversation,” Rouse said. “To continually ask whether they are dominating the conversation.”
For the leader of the conversation, especially in formal settings, Rouse said their responsibility is “to not assume that every person is going to feel as equally comfortable speaking up” and to check in on each individual.
“People who are more introverted look for jobs that have the flexibility to allow you to recharge because neither one of them [extrovert or introvert] is bad,” Mutale said. “It’s just the way we’re wired. We all need people in general; it’s just people have different ways to relate to that.”
Satisfying one’s social needs is critical to a balanced mental state, regardless of whether the extent is high or low. Instead of viewing introversion as a barrier to success or excluding introverts from communication positions, institutions should enhance flexibility to help individuals adapt to reach their full potential.
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