Being an extrovert probably isn't what you think -- here's what people often get wrong

  • A stereotypical extrovert is loud, sociable, and the life of the party.
  • In reality, extroversion is nothing to do with confidence.
  • Rather, it’s about seeking out pressure because you need it to function.
  • Both introverts and extroverts can be highly confident people – it just manifests in different ways.

Many people associate with being more introverted or extroverted. It’s not usually a case of being one or the other, as two thirds of people could be ambiverts which are somewhere in the middle. But it’s certainly true that you’re likely to lean one way more than the other.

According to Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist, the definition of extroverts and introverts is often misunderstood. Extroverts aren’t always the life of the party and full of confidence. They simply don’t have enough of a chemical that makes them feel stimulated to do things. So they have to seek out added pressure, like social occasions and deadlines.

“It’s nothing at all to do with confidence,” Blair told Business Insider. “You have lots of extroverts that have to go out but they don’t want to because they think nobody wants to be with them, and they go anyway. But then there are others who go out because they just assume people are going to want to be with them.”

At the same time, there are introverts who are very confident and comfortable with themselves. Then there are those who are low in confidence, who avoid going out, which exaggerates the problem. So being an introvert or an extrovert doesn’t really have any impact on how self-assured you are.

Some people believe extroverts have an advantage in social situations, but in reality they need to seek out these high pressure situations to function.

“They have got to find that pressure outside of themselves in order to get things done, which must be harder,” Blair said. “I’m an introvert, but I think it must be difficult to go out and look for that push and not have it built within you… How self confident you are is completely learnable, so if you don’t have self confidence you can build it up. Then you know what to work on and what to leave alone.”

Confidence can come in many forms. It isn’t just about walking into a room full of people and being able to socialise with everyone. For some, confidence can be choosing to be alone.

“Psychology is all about not what you do, but why,” Blair said. “Two people can go to a party and stay at the party for two completely different motivations. Inside they will be two very different people. One of them is there to have fun, loves people, and knows people love being with them, and the other one is doing it because he knows it’s the only way to get him to go out, but he hates it.”

Blair added that this distinction is important because the actions of extroverts and introverts can sometimes be misunderstood. Also, your extroversion or introversion is heavily influenced by your genes, so it’s not fair to make assumptions about why someone does what they do.

“You feel terrible later because you think you really judged that person and they didn’t deserve it,” she said.

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