Rachel Goldsmith, MA, MSMFT

In a world of constant interpersonal contact and a fast flow of ever changing information, those who desire a degree of solitude and quiet are sometimes judged harshly. Extroverts, or people who get energized by social situations and new activities, can tend to thrive in this dynamic culture. On the other hand, introverts, or those who feel refreshed and revived by time spent alone or engaged in one-on-one conversation, may feel exhausted or out of place within this environment.

Furthermore, many myths exist about introverts – for example, that they are shy or rude, do not like people, or just do not know how to let go and have fun. These views short change the many adaptive qualities that introverts possess, and in fact, we could all learn from these kinds of people. Here are just three aspects of introversion that extroverts can begin to appreciate and perhaps even adopt that may surprise even the most outgoing person.

  1. Increased time for introspection and reflection. Of course an extrovert can turn inward and reflect on him or herself, but an introvert’s tendency to seek out alone time can lend itself nicely to many more moments of mindful self-examination that can be beneficial in developing insight and awareness. It is likely that most of us could learn more about those around us and ourselves if we took more time to quiet our surroundings and simply be reflective.
  2. Better work-life balance. While an extrovert may jump at any and every opportunity to connect with peers or colleagues (which, undoubtedly, has its rewards), an introvert may decide, for example, to say “no” to a last minute offer to attend cocktail hour and instead have dinner at home with a partner or family. Most of us could benefit from this kind of boundary setting that creates a clear delineation between work and life.
  3. Development of fewer, but deeper, relationships. Introverts often foster a small number of very deep and close relationships rather than maintaining numerous surface-level friendships. While there are plenty of rewarding aspects about having many friends, it is vital to create deep bonds with a few people who you know and who you trust deeply. When you can focus your energy and attention to a select number of people, the relationships are often so much more fulfilling.