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Introverts Are Speaking Up About Things They Wish Extroverts Would Understand (30 Answers) (Interview With Author)
Reddit user Velvetxily asked their fellow internet introverts to share one thing they’d wish that extroverts would understand about them in a viral thread.
Introverts Are Speaking Up About Things They Wish Extroverts Would Understand (30 Answers) (Interview With Author)

There are a lot of myths that come with being an introvert. And there are plenty of things that introverts would love for others to know, just to make things clearer. So Reddit user Velvetxily asked their fellow internet introverts to share one thing they’d wish that extroverts would understand about them in a viral thread. Scroll down, upvote the responses that you agree with, and let us know whether you think you’re an introvert or an extrovert in the comments, dear Pandas.

Bored Panda reached out to Velvetxily and spoke to her about her viral thread, the inspiration behind it, and what she thinks about the dynamic between introverts and extroverts. "I myself an introvert," she admitted, adding that she created the thread to understand how all the other introverts feel about the myths that surround them. "The greatest myth is that introverts are shy and extroverts are not shy. I think it's not about shyness. Introverts gain energy by being alone and extroverts gain energy by being with others."

We also spoke to Dr. Andrew Spark from the Queensland University of Technology, who has done research about the link between introversion and leadership. “It is clear that introverts think about social interaction differently to extraverts, which may result in introverts choosing not to engage in the behaviors that may assist them into leadership roles (despite being perfectly capable of engaging in such behaviors).” Read on for Dr. Spark’s insightful and detailed analysis, as well as his take on the myths surrounding introversion.

“My research on introversion and leadership focuses on how introverts and extroverts think and feel about the behaviors required of leaders in leadership situations. Leadership roles typically require one to act in ways that are generally better suited to extroverts (e.g., to be assertive, social, bold, etc.). For many decades, we have known that extroverts tend to perform better in leadership roles and are selected into leadership roles more often, however, more recent scientific work has been exploring how and why this happens,” Dr. Spark from QUT told Bored Panda.

“In my own work, my colleagues and I found that one of the reasons introverts are not seen to be as ‘leaderlike’ by others is because they think that leadership situations are going to be unpleasant. The technical name for this is ‘affective forecasting.’ Affective forecasting refers to the expectation we have of our future emotions, which is to say that we make a prediction about how we will feel in a future situation.”

He continued: “Introverts are known to underpredict how good they will feel in future social interactions if they forecast themselves acting extroverted (because, perhaps surprisingly, acting extroverted is actually quite enjoyable, even for introverts). Given leadership situations require extroverted behavior, we expected that introverts’ propensity to forecast more negative affect would probably help to explain why they do not rise into leadership positions as much as extroverts. This is indeed what we found.”

Dr. Spark told us that the question now is whether we can change how introverts think about social interaction so that they could have a better chance of rising into leadership positions. He added that this can be important because, in some situations, introverts can be more effective than extroverts. “We simply don’t know the answer to this yet, though, so more research is needed.”

The researcher told Bored Panda that one of the biggest myths surrounding introversion and extroversion is that they’re common. “Because extroversion is a continuum, most people actually fall somewhere around the middle of the continuum. These people are sometimes called ‘ambiverts.’”

Dr. Spark continued: “Also, there is no official cut-off on someone’s score before they are said to be an extrovert or an introvert, however, as a very rough rule of thumb (assuming you really want to divide people up into categories) it would not be unreasonable to say that 15-20% of the population are noticeably extroverted and 15-20% of the population are noticeably introverted. The remaining 60-70% of the population are probably more difficult to pigeon hole and hence may be better thought of as ambiverts.”

According to Dr. Spark, another myth is that introverts can’t be extroverted. “A large body of evidence shows that introverted people actually engage in quite a number of extroverted behaviors in their daily lives as the specific situation demands, despite having a preference to be quiet and reserved. Equally, extroverted people engage in quite a number of introverted behaviors in their daily lives. That said, it is interesting that extroverted people have been shown to sometimes struggle when having to act introverted (e.g., in this study, they experienced a decline in their cognitive ability).”

Bored Panda was also interested to hear Dr. Spark’s thoughts about the link between introversion and having to ‘recharge’ more often from social interactions.

“It is a common assumption that introverts need to recharge more after social interaction. However, the research on this issue is mixed. For example, in this study, scientists found that both introverts and extroverts experienced mental depletion after interacting with others and that this depletion occurred approximately 3 hours after the interaction,” he went into detail.

“It didn’t make any difference if the person was introverted or extroverted. Then again, this study found that introverts experience slightly more negative emotion, tiredness and more feelings of inauthenticity when acting extroverted, despite also experiencing more positive emotion (note that positive and negative emotion are actually different processes rather than being polar opposites, so it is possible to be high on both). The jury is still out on this issue, which might come as a surprise to many!”

Dr. Spark added: “A lot more research needs to be done to understand how and why introverts think differently and whether we can uncover ways to encourage introverts into leadership positions given that they are quite capable of effective leadership in certain situations.”

Velvetxily, who created the original Reddit thread, told us that, in their opinion, the line between introverts and extroverts is this: "[People] feeling happiness and satisfaction with being with themselves are introverts. [People] feeling happiness and satisfaction with being with others are extroverts."

The redditor shared that they live in a suburban area in a developing country where there's a lot of pressure to speak up, have many friends, and to be more social. "Some of them don't even about a term 'introvert.' They always ask 'Why are you so quiet? Why don't you speak freely like others?." I hope that this stigma get removed. I wish that being introvert should be accepted as normal thing in the society."

Velvetxily’s thread was wildly successful. Not only did they get over 15.8k upvotes and a handful of Reddit awards, but their post also started a massive discussion with more than 5.5k comments! That just shows how many misconceptions extroverts might have about their introverted pals.

Myths like the idea that introverts are shy and hate socializing with people end up confusing us. Dr. Juli Fraga told Healthline that introversion and extroversion are personality characteristics that are influenced by nature and nurture. They’re deal more with how we recharge, less with how we act.

“Extroversion and introversion refer to where people receive energy from. Extroverts are energized by socializing in larger groups of people, having many friends, instead of a few intimate ones while introverts are energized by spending time alone or with a smaller group of friends,” the psychologist explained.

Dr. Fraga pointed out that introverts aren’t anti-social or anything like that. They enjoy building relationships and socializing with others just as much as extroverts. However, one thing that’s different is their “tolerance level” for how much socializing they’re comfortable with.

If you’re at a party that goes on for a week straight, you’ll eventually find that you have a limit for how much you can socialize, too, even if you’re the biggest extrovert around. Introverts simply need more breaks from socializing so that they can be fully invested when they’re hanging out with the people that they care about.

Another myth that needs to be busted is that introverts supposedly take fewer risks than extroverts. According to Dr. Fraga, our fears and desires are distinct from being intro- and extroverted.

She also pointed out that people tend to mix confidence and being an extrovert together which creates misconceptions about introverts supposedly being shy. Dr. Fraga said that confidence isn’t about being social all the time and having a huge number of friends; confidence is all about knowing what’s best for you and following through.

Comments (32)
Charlotte Stewart
All the introverts reading this article and not commenting ?
Dynein
Many good and true things in here... and many false generalizations. Introversion really just means "recharges when alone" (as opposed to extroverts who recharge when around people). The bits about how wanting me-time don't translate to depression, shyness, disliking someone etc are absolutely true and ought to be written into the sky or something. The bits like disliking small talk, being direct etc are personal preference and don't universally apply!
Kesam
What has always bugged is the societal expectation and pressure to live up extroverts' ideals. Socializing is seen as a skill you should have to be a good, fun, worthy member of society. I've heard so many people (including myself) say in an apologetic tone that they are "not good at socializing." Well, if socializing is a skill we're supposedly lacking, how about attaching some value to introvert "skills" like being able to enjoy your own company? A lot of people are really bad at that.
Tommy Collins
Thank you for the post, I really enjoyed it and can relate to so much. This is the first time I have ever read a post on introverts and know that so many can appreciate the honesty in this good read.
Metaniel
I'm an introvert working with extravert. A month or so ago she shouted at me, that I'm disrespecting her, because I'm not talking to her and I'm just sitting at work in silence doing my job. HR looked at her like she had a horn on her forehead. My mind went from inside shock to laughter. Everyone around us started to explaining grown up women that not everyone likes to talk a lot. She still claims that I disrespect her. And she expects, that I will magically open up about myself. Nah, bye.
Kesam
So, I learned one thing today: pandas are really introvert animals! ?
Martha Meyer
Most people are not actually what we call extroverts or introverts but on a scale between both.
Alexis D.
how about when I say I'm an introvert, don't say "no you're not!" yes, I am. I just know when I have to play the part of an extrovert and it's freaking exhausting!
Nia
I was rather damaged by my mother, growing up sure but really in my young adulthood. She’d get very outwardly upset with me when, for example, a guest would come into her house for like a party and I wasn’t even given two seconds to greet them. She’d just jump right in, insulting me and greeting them for me. And yet my dad (still married to her) completely understood this about me my whole life, and used my personality to make me see that his friends were just as accepting of me as he is.
Jason Haliburn
Haha.....commenting isn't my thing. I just came to read the content and agree to it. Not here to give my thoughts about it. How lame would that be ....
Stille20
There aren't two kinds of people, "introverts" and "extroverts" you are degrees of either. I get annoyed when the internet talks about "introverts" like they are minority in need of protection.
boredpanDaman
i so much appreciate when i am with someone, and i feel as good as when i am alone. those people i love
Fred and George Weasley
thank god it aint just me. one thing i would add is people not leavving you alone when you SAY leave me alone and mean it
C. Mayo
"When I'm sitting quietly reading a book, I'm actually involved in something and not just killing time waiting for someone to start a conversation with me."
Meyer Weinstock
Just because I am introverted, doesn't mean that I can't talk for 3 hours straight...I mean, that was my job for 25+ years. Now, not so much...
SirPatTheCat
I don't think I'm an introvert (or maybe at least not on the extreme side of the scale) but I am very shy and quiet when meeting new people. I also have a very bad resting face that does not look friendly. Those things combined caused multiple close friends to think that I hated/didn't like them when we first met (which they later told me) haha.
Raine Soo
I have a friend who used to ask me if I was going to celebrate big on special occasions. "Oh, your boyfriend is taking you out on the town for your birthday, right? Oh, he's getting you bunches and bunches of flowers for Valentine's Day, right? Tell me you're not staying in for New Year's Eve?" No, no, and yes. She is all about the 'grand' gesture. As an introvert, I am all about the right gesture. Those two are not necessarily the same.
Kenny Kulbiski
I consider myself an introvert but a post drawing attention to introverts doesn't quite make sense. Why should I defend/ explain myself. Let the extroverts do that. They like that kind of stuff.
Wolfowl
One thing I don't like is people saying "Oh you're so quiet" when I'm just lost in thought or "Why are you in your room, we never see you" when in fact I'm just reading or playing video games and I don't like human interaction, especially in quarantine when I have to be around everyone all the time.
Sill Marien
Some of the above response look like people on the spectrum. No, I'm not judging, I'm telling you to get diagnosed as this can have a very positive effect on your self-understanding and welcome you to the club :)
ISpiltLipstickInYourValentinoBag
Just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean I'm always sad, I just sometimes look that way
Martin Forbes
Having read these comments I personally can't say enough how truly accurate these are for us introverts. Being told to, "stop being so shy" is probably one of the more baffling things that anyone has ever said to me, I wish, I really wish it worked that way but unfortunately it doesn't. When I go out with friends, I'll need to go to the toilets/bathroom frequently depending on how "busy" the night is just to sit on the toilet itself and recharge my batteries emotionally, preparing myself for going back out there to join the group again. It's good to see something like this out there for all personality types to read and hopefully understand.
Nora
I'm just over this whole introverts vs. extroverts debaucle. Isn't everyone? It's getting tiresome.
Alice Laughs
https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/viewpoint-introverts-and-extraverts-in-the-time-of-covid-19.aspx A thoughtful article I'd like to share.
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