In this wellbeing blog by Fernwood Fitness, they debate the question ‘Are extroverts better at life than introverts?’.
As a fellow introvert Our CEO, Rhonda Brighton-Hall was quoted in the article as an expert in Human Resources.
Read the full article below:
Introvert or extrovert: which are you?
And, more importantly, which is better – at the office, in a relationship or at home with the kids?
Popular opinion seems to lean towards believing that confident, attention-loving extroverts do better at life because the social connections they crave make them happier and healthier.
But it turns out that reserved introverts who prefer solitary activities are just as likely to succeed at work and enjoy positive relationships.
What matters is knowing your personality type and making choices that best support your needs.
Know your type – Extrovert or Introvert?
Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung introduced the introversion-extroversion axis to popular culture in the 1920s.
It inspired the Myers-Briggs personality test that, among other measures, determines whether you’re an ‘E’ (extrovert) or ‘I’ (introvert).
The test remains popular in human resources departments as a component of psychometric testing but Dr Peggy Kern, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne, says there’s very little evidence to support its validity.
Instead, introversion and extroversion is better assessed by the Big Five model that shows personality according to five broad dimensions: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience and extroversion (to find out your type, take the test at outofservice.com).
Extroverts are often thought of as outgoing, and introverts as shy, but this personality dimension actually relates to where we get our energy from rather than what we do with it. “Extroverts tend to be more sociable, so they get their energy more from other people,” says Dr Kern. “They tend to be more active and a bit more domineering, assertive and excitable. Extroverts like to go out and be around people – they’re very comfortable at a party.
“With introverts, it’s not that they don’t like people – often times they connect much better on a one-on-one basis or in small groups – but situations where there are lots of people can be very overwhelming.
Introverts get their energy more from being introspective, so they might be more reserved. Sometimes they can be shy, but not always.
They tend to like to do more solitary activities like an evening at home reading a book or with a loved one as opposed to going out and about on the town.”
The Big Five and Myer Briggs Models
Because extroversion and introversion fall on a spectrum – under both the Big Five and Myer-Briggs models – most people are actually a mix of both types. People for whom neither trait is dominant are known as ambiverts.
“It’s a continuum, so we might be more extroverted or more introverted but a lot of people are in the middle, and in some situations you’ll be more introverted and in other situations you’ll be more extroverted,” says Dr Kern.
The extrovert myth
We often assume people who display more extroverted tendencies perform better at work and develop stronger relationships with other people because social interaction is their fuel of choice.
However, Rhonda Brighton-Hall, a leading human resources expert with 25 years’ experience in senior roles and CEO of MWAH (Making Work Absolutely Human), says people who identify more as introverts are just as likely to be high performers.
“But if you really sat back and observed, you would see just as many great performers who were introverts. The difference is that they would have got their energy before [a] meeting in reflection, thinking about what they’re going to speak about. They’ll come into the meeting with a couple of points they want to make.”
As such, the perception of introverts is changing and is perhaps best illustrated in the wildly popular bestseller by self-confessed introvert, Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. The success of the book, which celebrates the value of introverts, inspired Cain to co-found the Quiet Revolution, a company that aims to unlock the power of introverts “for the benefit of us all”.
Dr Kern agrees that both introverts and extroverts are just as likely to enjoy happy, successful lives. The key is setting up your life in a way that suits your spot on the extroversion-introversion spectrum.
“When we think about how it relates to things like wellbeing and social relationships, both types can be beneficial,” says Dr Kern. “It’s much more about the fit between the person and the situations they’re in, more so than being one type or the other.”
Your authentic self
Brighton-Hall says understanding yourself, knowing how you contribute best and having the confidence to be your “authentic self” will help you to enjoy greater professional success. “If you’re an introvert and you find yourself in a completely extroverted world like an open plan area where everyone is constantly running around, perhaps you might like to work from home for a day to get some writing done,” she says.
“Equally, if you’re an extrovert doing a project with people who are very quiet and you’re not getting anything from them, go and have a couple of stakeholder meetings so you hear from your customers, clients or colleagues.”
When it comes to relationships, Dr Kern says recognising how your needs fit with the needs of people around you will help to balance out differences between groups of friends or couples where one person wants to spend every Saturday night in a noisy bar while the other prefers to binge watch Netflix.
“Recognising that we all have different levels of introversion and extroversion can help us accept others more and understand that you don’t need to fix them because they have a different style.
“With couples, sometimes we’re attracted to similar people and often times it’s opposites that attract. You might have a very extroverted spouse married to an introverted person, so it’s about accepting and appreciating the differences in each other, and understanding that they don’t have to be just like you.”