Is it better to be an introvert or an extrovert?

by Harry Shelton
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Whenever you talk to people today it doesn’t take them long for them to either proclaim that they are an extrovert or an introvert. The funny thing about it is that when any person claims they are one or the other, they are usually proud of it as if it is the better one to be. Extroverts tell you they are extroverts so you know they love life and are great fun to be around, often the people that claim to be extroverts are just loud. Introverts tell you they are introverts so you know they are not weak and shy, they just don’t want to talk that much. 

The majority of people who use the terms extrovert and introvert have no idea what they actually mean. Many people do use the term introvert as another word for shy which is incorrect and many people do think extrovert just means loud, which is totally wrong as well.

The terms introvert and extrovert are best explained as part of the five-factor model of personality. This model has been developed by psychologists who believe that there are five key measurements to understand a person’s personality. They look at whether a person is an extrovert or introvert, how much empathy they have, how organized they are, how negative they, and how creative they are. By having a spectrum for each of these traits and placing a person somewhere on each spectrum it is believed to give an accurate portrayal of their personality and therefore their strengths and weaknesses. 

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It is important to understand that on each of these spectrums there is no right or wrong side. There are both positives and negatives associated with being on each side. In terms of the extrovert and introvert, it is a complex spectrum that does not simply ask how shy you are. There are many introverts that are shy and many that are very social. The best way I find to think about social introverts is that they simply prefer solitude to recharge their batteries. They may be able to stand up in front of a crowd and give an incredible presentation but when it is all over they would rather go to their room than spend the night out with friends. Introverts and extroverts recharge differently.

In addition, there are many types of introverts.  In most studies, psychologists group introverts into four categories; social, thinking, anxious, and restrained. There are social introverts who prefer to avoid large groups. There are thought introverts who tend to work better alone than in teams. There are anxious introverts who are shyer. There are restrained introverts who don’t like exiting activities but are more relaxed. 

All of this means that the idea of whether extrovert is better than introvert makes no sense. It is true that psychologists who analyzed both introverts and extroverts have found that a higher percentage of happy people claim to be extroverts but that does not mean that introverts are generally unhappy.

The personality traits that an extrovert and introvert have are well suited to many fields. While you may think that an extrovert could be a better manager an introvert is also likely to be very good in this position as they could be great in one to one situations and supporting struggling team members. Extroverts may also be great as they are happy to give speeches and wine and dine the customers for the night to ensure their clients are entertained. 

In the end, what is most likely to succeed is a well-balanced team that comprises both introverts and extroverts. This allows a team (whether a company or some other team) to perform to a high degree as long as they can get the best from everyone.

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