This is the fourth in a weekly series debunking myths about introverts. (See last week’s post.) The basis of the 10 week series is the article written by Carl King. I will show his thinking, add mine and then encourage all of you to contribute your thoughts on the subject.
Don’t know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Take Susan Cain’s quiz.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Carl: Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Chris: Up until recently I was one of the thousands of people who thought Introvert = Shy. I’m not shy, therefore I couldn’t be an introvert. I continued to think that even after watching Susan Cain’s TED talk, nodding in agreement the whole way through. Even after starting to read her book, Quiet. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finally break that old association and begin to allow myself to acknowledge the introvert I am.
Here’s a news flash for you: EXTROVERTS CAN BE SHY! Yes, indeed, it is true. Remember that the definition for each is how you feel your energy depleted and renewed. So anyone can be shy, extrovert, introvert and anywhere in between. Being shy means you feel socially awkward, anxious, and self-conscious. It’s an emotion.
I like that Carl said introverts need a reason to interact. That’s what makes us seem so shy. If I have a reason, I’m warm, sincere and personable. I can make strangers feel instantly comfortable and many of them end up telling me the stories of their lives. I recently mentioned that I’ve been worn out training people from India and having to be the extrovert at work for weeks in a row. But for all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my Indian counterparts. We shared many funny and heartwarming stories. We had a common interest in the work we do, and I am fascinated with other cultures, so we had plenty to talk about. I’m going to miss them when I move on to my next assignment.
I volunteer with The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families. This is an organization that truly values its volunteers. They throw a big appreciation dinner for us every year, held in a fancy hotel in downtown Portland. Will you find me there? Absolutely not. Too many strangers in one space. Eating with lots of people I don’t know. Noisy. Crowded. Nope, not for me. Even though we all have something in common, there is only so much conversation you can have about grief. After that, there is only small talk. We all know how introverts feel about small talk. The Dougy Center make me feel valued in many other smaller ways, and that is just fine with me, thank you very much.
Now if you were to put me in a setting where I had to talk about The Dougy Center to a room filled with strangers, I would have absolutely no problem doing that. It’s an organization that provides incredible value to families in need all over the world. I’m proud of the work we do. I would wade in, shake hands and talk people’s ears off. Sure, I’d be exhausted at the end, and need some serious down time, but would I be shy? Not in the least.
One more example: if you were to invite me to something way outside of my comfort zone, let’s say to a dinner with the President at the White House, would I be shy? You bet I would be. Shy and introverted. Feeling socially awkward and completely out of my league. But I’d just ignore the President and talk to Michelle Obama and then I wouldn’t be shy any more.
So when I think about how I’ve come to understand the introverted = shy discussion, those are the examples from my life that helped me see the distinction. What stories do you have to share?
Have a quiet day!
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Hi. I’m Chris. I’m an introvert. Look for my ongoing series debunking the introvert myths (Sunday) and introvert cartoons (Wednesday), plus anything else interesting that I find in the meantime. Come and share with like-minded introverts. I also contribute to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.