Introverts might not be the life of the party, but that doesn’t mean they’re unsociable or antisocial.
On the contrary, their quiet, introverted nature isn’t an antisocial position at all. It’s simply how they experience society. But it’s easy to misunderstand this, and unfortunately introverts get a bad rap because many people just don’t understand them.
Energy for an Introverted Person
Let’s talk about currency for a moment. You can either spend or obtain currency, right?
Now, think of energy as a type of currency. You can spend your energy or obtain more of it, depending on what you do. For extroverts, they obtain energy when they’re with other people. Introverts, on the other hand, spend their energy when they’re interacting with people.
This means that after hours of social interaction, an extrovert can easily feel uplifted, inspired and positive.
An introvert, though, may feel drained and frustrated, not because they don’t like people, but because people drain their energy stores instead of replenishing them.
Social interactions give energy to extroverts, but these same interactions take energy away from introverts. This key factor distinguishes these two types of people from each other.
But not all social interactions are made equal. And just because introverts don’t like high quantities of social interaction, it doesn’t mean they dislike all of it. Here are some reasons why.
Introverts Do Social Differently
In the words of coach and entrepreneur, Patricia Weber, introverts “do social differently.” Unfortunately, because introverts don’t behave the same way extroverts or ambiverts do, they’re often seen as unsocial.
This unfair judgment is just one of many indications that we live in a world that is designed for, and favors, extroversion over introversion. And because of this, many introverts feel pressured to act more outgoing, and to follow social conventions. They do this to avoid negative judgment.
But not all introverts try to hide their personalities. Here are some of the ways introverts can engage in social settings, and why you might interpret them as unsocial or antisocial.
Introverts Like to Observe
Introverts can certainly become comfortable with the right people, but they’re generally the type to observe the action, rather than be the action. This behavior might make you think they’re not interested, or don’t want to be involved, but this behavior is actually how they involve themselves.
This type of involvement doesn’t mean introverts are merely passive players in a busy world. Approximately 40% of top executives are introverts. So, try to think of social events like theater performances, where extroverts might be the stars of the show, and the introverts act as the directors, audience and critics.
Introverts Like Big Talk
In short, introverts aren’t big on small talk.
Small talk is uncomfortable and unnecessary to them, and because of this, other people see them as snobby.
In fact, you can easily (and mistakenly!) think of introverts the same way Elizabeth Bennet thought of Mr. Darcy: prideful and arrogant. But being introverted doesn’t mean you’re either of these two traits.
Introverts love to talk if it means diving deep into important issues, philosophizing about topics and engaging in meaningful conversation.
They’re usually very imaginative and have a very active mind, and this is hidden behind their quiet, withdrawn nature. You see, their inner world is already so full. And trying to express their thoughts in small talk about the weather just doesn’t cut it for an introvert.
If an introvert can’t engage in deep, meaningful conversation, they’ll feel uncomfortable trying to conform to extroverted expectations and engage in small talk. This can be interpreted as unsocial behavior.
Introverts are not Melancholy
As we know by now, introverts like to be alone. It’s their way of relaxing and recharging. Unfortunately, being alone is often confused with loneliness, and solitude is often paired with sadness. But for an introvert, nothing is further from the truth.
They don’t seek alone time because they’re unfriendly, depressed, or because they dislike people. They simply enjoy hours to themselves, and just need time away from people. In contrast, a truly unsocial person is generally cold and unfriendly to other people.
Introverts Value Friendship
An introvert might not need to spend entire days with their friends, but that doesn’t mean they don’t treasure their friendships.
In fact, introverts are usually very loyal, trustworthy and reliable friends. They tend to be more selective about who they spend their time with. This means, they probably won’t have a huge entourage, but their fewer friendships are genuine.
This distinguishes introverts from unsocial or antisocial people, who simply don’t value their friendships and even sabotage them.
Introverts Aren’t Shy
Introverts are naturally more withdrawn, quiet and private. But society generally prefers the opposite traits: outgoing, expressive and public. Most people think these traits are better and desirable, making the normal and natural characteristics of an introvert seem negative.
In fact, some people simply believe that an introvert is synonymous with being shy. But shyness has to do with shame, embarrassment, fear and being uncomfortable with who you are in front of other people.
None of these qualities define introversion. Introverts aren’t ashamed of themselves, or fear social interaction. They simply don’t interact the same way extroverts and ambiverts do, and this difference doesn’t stem from low self-esteem or low self-confidence.
Introverts are not withdrawn because they feel unworthy. But if many people understand introversion as something that has to do with shame and unworthiness, it’s no wonder that introverts are considered unsocial or antisocial.
Introversion is Flexible
It’s very tempting to take a label and stick to it.
But it’s important to remember that introversion and extroversion exist on the same spectrum, and that there’s a constant ebb and flow between the two. No one is only introverted or only extroverted. Each person has both characteristics. And if you’re somewhere in the middle, you’re an introverted extrovert, or an extroverted introvert, or more simply, an ambivert.
But behind all of these labels, there is so much more to each person’s personality, and it’s important to leave room for that.