Recent update

Subscribe to RSS feed

the world favors extroverts

July 14th, 2009 by Mindy Erchull

When we were talking about the Big 5 personality traits, I mentioned that the world tends to favor extroverts, so I’ve learned to mask my own introversion (at least to some extent) to be better able to succeed.  What do I mean by all of this.

Well, let’s start with why the world may favor extroverts.  In general, we are more comfortable with extroverts because they seem friendly and confident; these are characteristics that make us feel comfortable in social and professional situations.  Introverts are more self-contained, and this can be interpreted as rudeness, standoffishness, insecurity, or ineffectiveness rather than a general shyness or discomfort with certain settings.  We don’t want to be around uncomfortable people, and it’s hard to have confidence in others if we don’t believe that they have confidence in themselves.

I am a stereotypical introvert: I prefer small groups to large groups; I’d rather be around people I know well than new people; I crave quiet time; I spend a lot of time ‘living in my head.’  While these characteristics are an intrinsic part of who I am, they don’t always serve me well.  To do my job, I have to talk to people, in both large and small groups, every day.  After all, I need to walk in to classrooms and try to keep students awake.  That’s hard to do if I’m scared to put myself out there.  To be an active professional, I also have to network with people at conferences.  I need to be willing to walk up to a group of people I don’t know and talk with them.  In other words, I need to act extroverted.

I will never be an extrovert (in other words, it will never be one of my defining traits), but I have become more comfortable acting extroverted when a situation demands it.  As I mentioned in class, apparently I’ve become so good a this that a good friend of mine actually argued with me that I was an extrovert rather than an introvert.  I am still an introvert, however.  While I can now network with the best of them, I find it more difficult and draining than would a true extrovert.  At the end of the day, I often just want to eat a quiet dinner by myself without talking to others and spend some time reading a book and reflecting in my hotel room. 

Personality may be somewhat adaptable to certain situations, but I still have a default way of being.

Posted in personality | | 2 Comments

2 Responses to ' the world favors extroverts '

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. Tonia Collins said,

    on July 15th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I can identify with your story. I am also an introvert. Not until my adulthood did I realize there is nothing wrong with this personality type. Extroverts around me didn’t understand my personality and it make them uncomfortable. They tried to change me to accomodate their needs. As a human resource professional,I saw the need to develop training in organizations to help extroverts understand how to communicate with the introverted population. Since then, I’ve written a book called, “Celebrating Introversion: Unwrapping Your True Presence.” It is at the publisher and should be available in September.

  2. ibarra said,

    on November 18th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    i relate to everything you’ve said. what bothers me is that introverts are often viewed as underdeveloped and insecure, as if personality traits are linear and we are all meant to strive to be extroverts. it’s a misconception and it’s hard for people to understand, especially since introverts are often asked to act extroverted in order to function in society while extroverts are rarely asked to do the opposite. after all, society doesn’t care what you do in your private time. thank you for this post!

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.