Tag Archives: introversion

Myths About Introverts

As intro­verts are a minority—a mere twenty-five per­cent of the population—there are many per­sist­ent mis­con­cep­tions about the intro­vert per­son­al­ity among the majority. After read­ing The Intro­vert Advant­age, Carl King decided to com­pile a list of myths about intro­verts, explain­ing why each mis­con­cep­tion is false:

  1. Intro­verts don’t like to talk.
  2. Intro­verts are shy.
  3. Intro­verts are rude.
  4. Intro­verts don’t like people.
  5. Intro­verts don’t like to go out in pub­lic.
  6. Intro­verts always want to be alone.
  7. Intro­verts are weird.
  8. Intro­verts are aloof nerds.
  9. Intro­verts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
  10. Intro­verts can fix them­selves and become Extro­verts.

The list itself is fairly obvi­ous and ped­es­tri­an, but it’s King’s short descrip­tions that are truly insight­ful. For example, here are the explan­a­tions for myths four, five and six:

Intro­verts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an intro­vert to con­sider you a friend, you prob­ably have a loy­al ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a per­son of sub­stance, you’re in.

Intro­verts just don’t like to go out in pub­lic FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the com­plic­a­tions that are involved in pub­lic activ­it­ies. They take in data and exper­i­ences very quickly, and as a res­ult, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and pro­cess it all. In fact, rechar­ging is abso­lutely cru­cial for Intro­verts.

Intro­verts are per­fectly com­fort­able with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They day­dream. They like to have prob­lems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incred­ibly lonely if they don’t have any­one to share their dis­cov­er­ies with. They crave an authen­t­ic and sin­cere con­nec­tion with ONE PERSON at a time.

via Link Banana

Askers, Guessers and the ‘Disease to Please’

Say­ing No to seem­ingly unreas­on­able requests and unwanted invit­a­tions is easy for some and a gruelling men­tal chal­lenge for oth­ers. This dis­par­ity between responses can be explained by look­ing at the beha­vi­our­al dif­fer­ences between Ask­ers and Guess­ers:

In Ask cul­ture, people grow up believ­ing they can ask for anything–a favour, a pay rise–fully real­ising the answer may be no. In Guess cul­ture, by con­trast, you avoid “put­ting a request into words unless you’re pretty sure the answer will be yes… A key skill is put­ting out del­ic­ate feel­ers. If you do this with enough sub­tlety, you won’t have to make the request dir­ectly; you’ll get an offer. Even then, the offer may be genu­ine or pro forma; it takes yet more skill and del­ic­acy to dis­cern wheth­er you should accept.”

Neither­’s “wrong”, but when an Ask­er meets a Guess­er, unpleas­ant­ness res­ults. An Ask­er won’t think it’s rude to request two weeks in your spare room, but a Guess cul­ture per­son will hear it as pre­sump­tu­ous and resent the agony involved in say­ing no. Your boss, ask­ing for a pro­ject to be fin­ished early, may be an over­de­mand­ing boor – or just an Ask­er, who’s assum­ing you might decline. If you’re a Guess­er, you’ll hear it as an expect­a­tion. This is a spec­trum, not a dicho­tomy, and it explains cross-cul­tur­al awk­ward­nesses, too. […]

Self-help seeks to make us all Ask­ers, train­ing us to both ask and refuse with rel­ish; the medi­ation expert Wil­li­am Ury recom­mends mem­or­ising “anchor phrases” such as “that does­n’t work for me”. But Guess­ers can take solace in logic: in many social situ­ations (though per­haps not at work) the very fact that you’re receiv­ing an anxi­ety-indu­cing request is proof the per­son ask­ing is an Ask­er. He or she is half-expect­ing you’ll say no, and has no ink­ling of the tor­ture you’re exper­i­en­cing. So say no, and see what hap­pens. Noth­ing will.

This the­ory ori­gin­ates from Andrea Don­der­i’s fant­ast­ic response to a 2007 Ask Meta­Fil­ter query on deal­ing with unreas­on­able requests.

From this art­icle, Dav­id brings the fol­low­ing to our atten­tion: Sayre’s Law and Par­kin­son’s Law of Tri­vi­al­ity.

Conversational Mannerisms of Geeks

I always put up a men­tal bar­ri­er when read­ing art­icles such as this as I am of the opin­ion that it is dif­fi­cult to suc­cess­fully pro­duce gen­er­al­it­ies about a sub­set of people unless you are quite intim­ate with their idio­syn­crasies.

Philip Guo over­came this bar­ri­er in his art­icle look­ing at the con­ver­sa­tion­al beha­viours of “geeks, nerds, and oth­er highly-smart tech­nic­al people”. These beha­viours:

  • Strug­gling with turn-tak­ing.
  • Obsess­ing over cor­rect­ness and com­plete­ness.
  • Pre­fer­ring exact numer­ic­al responses.
  • Using tech­nic­al terms without check­ing for under­stand­ing.
  • Focus­ing on the how rather than the what or the why.
  • Favor­ing com­plex­ity and detail over sim­pli­city in descrip­tions.
  • Rap­idly enu­mer­at­ing long lists of items.
  • Show­ing a lack of interest in out­ward appear­ances.
  • Evan­gel­iz­ing their favor­ite tech­no­lo­gies.

The Hack­er News thread dis­cuss­ing this art­icle is also worthy of a cas­u­al look.

The Introverted Traveller

Start­ing with the declar­a­tion that “We intro­verts have a dif­fer­ent style of travel, and I’m tired of hid­ing it”, Sophia Dem­bling looks at the dif­fer­ences in how intro­verts and extro­verts travel, and what this means.

I’m always happy enough when inter­est­ing people stumble into my path. It’s a lagniappe, and I’m cap­able of con­nect­ing with people when the oppor­tun­ity arises. And when the chem­istry is right, I enjoy it.

But I don’t seek people out, I am ter­rible at strik­ing up con­ver­sa­tions with strangers and I am happy explor­ing a strange city alone. I don’t seek out polit­ic­al dis­course with opin­ion­ated cab drivers or boozy bond­ing with loc­als over beers into the wee hours. […]

For some of us, meet­ing people is not the sole pur­pose of travel. I travel for the travel. […] It’s good to know that I might be a loner, but I’m not alone.

This is exactly what I needed to read: con­sid­er­ing any extens­ive travel I always feel like I’ll enjoy it less due to my mod­er­ate intro­ver­sion. This art­icle and the cor­res­pond­ing tips make me real­ise that it’s OK.

Like Jason (via), this reminds me of one of my favour­ite essays: Caring for Your Intro­vert (which in turn reminds me of The Nerd Hand­book). I loved these two essays when I first read them, and think of them both often.

The Nerd Handbook and Caring for Your Introvert

Rands In Repose’s Nerd Hand­book is an essay on under­stand­ing geeks; from our insa­ti­able appet­ite for know­ledge to our hard-to-decipher social inter­ac­tion ‘skills’. The Hand­book is at times pain­fully pre­cise.

The nerd has based his career, maybe his life, on the com­puter, and as we’ll see, this intim­ate rela­tion­ship has altered his view of the world. He sees the world as a sys­tem which, giv­en enough time and effort, is com­pletely know­able. This is a fra­gile illu­sion that your nerd has adop­ted, but it’s a pleas­ant one that gets your nerd through the day. When the illu­sion is broken, you are going to dis­cov­er that…

Your nerd has con­trol issues
Your nerd has built him­self a cave
Your nerd loves toys and puzzles
Nerds are fuck­ing funny
Your nerd has an amaz­ing appet­ite for inform­a­tion
Your nerd has built an annoy­ingly effi­cient rel­ev­ancy engine in his head
Your nerd might come off as not lik­ing people

I see a lot of myself here, and I’ll have to remem­ber to send this to any future pro­spect­ive Mrs Mor­gans. In fact, while I’m at it, maybe I should also send them The Atlantic’s art­icle on caring for your intro­vert… they share a lot in com­mon with us.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet con­ver­sa­tions about feel­ings or ideas, and can give a dynam­ite present­a­tion to a big audi­ence, but seems awk­ward in groups and mal­ad­roit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recu­per­ate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accos­ted with pleas­ant­ries by people who are just try­ing to be nice?


If you answered yes to these ques­tions, chances are that you have an intro­vert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him prop­erly.

How can I let the intro­vert in my life know that I sup­port him and respect his choice?

First, recog­nize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a life­style. It’s an ori­ent­a­tion.
Second, when you see an intro­vert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the mat­ter?” or “Are you all right?”
Third, don’t say any­thing else, either.