The Grapevine

It's A Hard Knock Life: 5 Common Myths About Extroverts That Introverts Probably Believe

Group of friends taking a selfie at the park
Five of the most common myths about extroverts — from being self-centered to being bad listeners — are dispelled to show they’re not as happy-go-lucky as they seem. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Our personalities often fall into one of two categories: introvert or extrovert. To distinguish between the two, we tend to mistakenly use adjectives like "shy" or "outgoing." However, the difference is far more complex, and boxing people into each category has led to hurtful myths and misconceptions.

 It has also led to a rise in literature that speaks more on behalf of “the misunderstood introvert” than the “outgoing extrovert.” The portrait of an introvert, according to Susan Cain, lawyer, self-proclaimed introvert, and author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, is they possess more reserved qualities than their “loud mouth” counterparts. Therefore, it’s “difficult” for one-third to half of the introverted U.S. population to cope in a Western society that values outgoing qualities like smiling and charisma.

Introversion has been romanticized over the years as introverts have come to spearhead their own “quiet revolution” in a noisy world. This has led introverts to an “increasing hostility” toward extroverts, according to Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, who says extroverts have been labeled as “stupid and needy.” While extroverts may appear as complex and diverse through their happy-go-lucky exterior, the truth is introverts aren’t the only ones who are unfairly judged.

A 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that extroverts are more likely to associate the rush of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine with the environment they are in at the time. This means extroverts are more prone to opt for instant gratification and focus more on faces of others than introverts. Introverts pay more attention to small details because they get overwhelmed by a lot of stimulation. Scientific literature about the two personality types has both hurt and helped the understanding of introverts and extroverts.

Similar to introversion, there are many common myths and misconceptions about extraversion that introverts probably believe. Here are the five myths dispelled to help bridge the gap between introverts and extroverts.

Myth #1: Extroverts are always happy.

False: Extroverts tend to display happiness by being overly excited or energetic. It is commonly believed they are usually friendly, outgoing, and surrounded by people, seldom sad, especially in the eyes of an introvert. Although extroverts appear socially savvy and confident, they too have moments of self-doubt, inferiority, and sadness.

This is especially true when extroverts don’t have enough interaction. "I think one of the things I learned that really surprised me was that extroverts say when they don't have enough interaction, they feel sad," Dembling said, USA Today reported.

Myth #2: Extroverts are better for business.

False: Extroverts are found to report higher levels of job and life satisfaction than introverts, but their outgoing demeanor may not always be ideal for certain work environments. They face other challenges at work, especially in an office environment. Dembling says while introverts may struggle with an open floor plan at work, extroverts may dislike working in a cubicle. Extroverts' desire for interaction could possibly curtail their productivity at work and put them in jeopardy of losing their job.

Myth #3: Extroverts are self-centered.

False: Their vocal and energetic nature has been associated with shallowness and selfishness. Introverts are praised for being “gentle listeners,” while extroverts are seen as being loud and only love to hear themselves talk. In reality, extroverts' way of showing concern for others just so happens to be in a boisterous outpouring of emotion.

Since extroverts feel sad when they don’t have enough interaction, according to Dembling, “[t]hey assume that when someone else is quiet, they’re sad.” This means while an introvert is looking for quiet time at their cubicle to recharge and think, an extroverted co-worker may try to tell a joke to get them to go to a happy hour. In this situation, introverts may mistakenly view extroverts as being annoying on purpose. In actuality, "this extrovert really has a genuine concern for you," Dembling said.

Myth #4: Extroverts are bad listeners.

False: Extroverts just like introverts are compassionate and gentle listeners. They are able to develop a back-and-forth conversation with others and tend to make people feel comfortable. They tend to say phrases such as “so tell me more about that” or “what you said was…” to help develop rapport between the person speaking. “Extroverts can be incredible listeners, because they draw people out by their open-ended questions and paraphrasing,” said Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, a certified speaking professional, executive coach and author, Psych Central reported.

Myth #5: Extroverts don’t like quiet or alone time.

False: Extroverts, just like introverts, do need time to recharge. However, they need it in “shorter doses and in different ways,” Kahnweiler said. For example, an extrovert may choose to listen to music with their headphones on while sitting in a coffee shop. This proves each needs their quiet or social time like we all need sleep. While introverts need a weekend for downtime, extroverts just need an evening of downtime after a busy week.

While dispelling these five myths won't change your perception on extroverts over night, perhaps it can help you start to see beyond the loud-mouthed perception, to the person within.

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