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Top 10 Introvert Myths

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Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

There’s no shortage of introvert myths.

I enjoy being introverted, and I’ve never understood all the fuss about being an extrovert. If nothing else, isn’t it great that we’re different?

Still, there are plenty of misconceptions about what it means to be an introvert.

Therefore, I was glad to find the book The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World) by Marti Laney, and from there, I found Carl Kingdom, who, based on Laney’s book, has compiled a list of ten widely spread myths about introverts.

Here are excerpts describing these introvert myths:

Table of Contents

    Myth 1: Introverts Don’t Like To Talk

    “This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.”

    I like to talk, and I often lead meetings and workshops. I often get up on stage to speak in front of hundreds of people at the time. I don’t mind standing up in a room full of strangers to make my case. However, if I have nothing substantial to add, I say nothing.

    This is especially true if I already want the social situation to be over.

    Myth 2: Introverts Are Shy

    “Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.”

    This, in my opinion, is the worst introvert myth. I love to give advice, but I also know that unsolicited advice is a waste of breath. And if there’s no interest in what I might have to say, that’s fine, too. I’m not easily offended, and I don’t mind being quiet.

    Myth 3: Introverts Are Rude

    “Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.”

    Well, I’ve learned to fake social pleasantries. It’s exhausting, but making the situation uncomfortable for others might prolong the social interaction. I don’t consider myself rude, but I don’t want to be perceived as rude.

    Myth 4: Introverts Don’t Like People

    “On the contrary, 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.”

    So, I never expect anyone to be excellent at everything. I don’t expect to like every facet of someone’s personality — and I don’t hope anyone to enjoy every aspect of mine. I want to think that I’m pragmatic.

    Myth 5: Introverts Don’t Like To Go Out In Public

    “Nonsense. 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.”

    The more people in a public setting, the more complex I prefer the interaction. This is why I’m not too fond of concerts; enjoying music is a challenging experience and, therefore, best done alone.

    Myth 6: Introverts Always Want To Be Alone

    “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.”

    My thinking goes like this: Since I’m deeply interested in people, especially when it comes to psychologies and behaviours, why wouldn’t I prefer to connect with one person at a time? I don’t see the magic in spreading my attention too thin.

    Myth 7: Introverts Are Weird

    “Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves, and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.”

    I don’t think that I’m an individualist by choice. I think first — and then I compare. And quite often, this thinking turns out to be somewhat different from the norm. Once this process has occurred, I can’t change my mind to conform to existing majorities who have reached different conclusions.

    Myth 8: Introverts Are Aloof Nerds

    “Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.”

    I often find specific activities that spark my interest, and when this happens, I like to dive deeper into them. I can appreciate that other people prefer to breeze through many types of activities; there are benefits to that, too.

    Myth 9: Introverts Don’t Know How To Relax and Have Fun

    “Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.”

    It’s often problematic for my friends to understand that I can be alone and have tons of fun inside my head for hours. It might look isolated from the outset, but that’s only how it comes across.

    Myth 10: Introverts Can Fix Themselves and Become Extroverts

    “A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.”

    Sure, I can fake being extroverted. I often do this. As long as I get to recharge, I don’t see this as a significant problem. We must all adapt to our surroundings — that’s an evolutionary prerequisite. But natural variation is an evolutionary strength, too.

    Jerry Silfwer
    Jerry Silfwerhttps://www.doctorspin.net/
    Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

    32 COMMENTS

    1. Scary how close this description is to my reality. More or less struggled with feeling bad at social interaction my whole life. This list is a great comfort. Thanks!

      Scientist from Sweden 8)

    2. So very true! I’m surprised that there are so many of us out there, though. Would seem that we’re less than 25%.

      Thank you for this post – I’m going to refer to this on my own blog.

    3. Well, I have always considered myself an extrovert, and for the one criteria you mention with a biological basis–not liking a lot of stimulus–I would say I am an extrovert. I enjoy crowds and noise. But on every other criteria, I am introvert. Hate small talk, am loyal to my friends, am considered weird by lots of people. So I would just say a mature, thoughtful extrovert can act like an introvert! 

    4. I have a problem with the diagnose of either or. I am more of an introvert, but since I am very talkative (but as stated above, when I want, about what I want, and with whom I choose), I always get perceived as an extrovert. I would say many people are a bit of both, depending on the circumstances.

      • I’m guessing that this has to be seen as a spectrum. Not only can you be a bit of both, but also be extrovert/introvert in different degrees.

    5. I am a bit taken aback by the fact that this article comes as a surprise/comfort to so many readers – that really shows that the need to learn more is out there! 

      What helped me (a Swedish PhD in engineering living in the US) was to take the Myers-Briggs test pretty early on in my career.  I learned many things about myself, including why I behave and react the way I do in certain situations and why I was bullied in elementary school (you know, the place where everyone has to think, say, and act the same or you are not “in”).

      Another thing that makes life a lot easier for me is that I work in a research company, so most everyone else is an introvert too!  As a matter of fact, in this setting I am probably one of the more “extrovert introverts”… 

      Maybe the greatest help was growing up in a family where both parents are introverts.  At least I wasn’t (that) strange at home…  It was probably hell for my extroverted sisters, though.

      Thanks for a fun, and obviously important,  read,

    6. I fit right in! Except for number 8, I’d say that I’m more perceptive than 80-90% of the population. That comes from listening instead of talking.

    7. In the words of Thåström – “Det är ni som är dom konstiga det är jag som är normal” =)

    8. Kept thinking “Yes! Exactly like that! Finally someone else gets it to!” reading this. Especially 4,5 and 6. And 2. Heck, all of them.

      It’s not about hating social interaction or people, it’s just that I don’t crave it and it’s not my “natural” way of being. I usually try to describe it by saying that being social takes more energy than it gives for me and even though I can truly enjoy interacting with intelligent, interesting people it’s still exhausting (to me, at least) and after a while I need to be on my own and reload. Sort of riding a rollercoaster; as fun as it might be you’re still relieved getting off… ;)

      I’m definitely an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I’m antisocial or socially handicapped. I just… feel more at peace on my own. 

    9. Spot on! I´ve always had a hard time explaining that I like to socialize, just not all the time or with everyone. This kind of put the words on how I feel, exhausted after too much interacting with people. Thanks for posting

    10. Bra inlägg, väldigt befriande!
      Jag är en introvert person men har sedan flera år tillbaka blivit mer och mer extrovert, till en punkt att jag pushade mig för mycket att det resulterade i en deperession. Något jag insett är att vara extrovert för en introvert person kan vara väldigt stressigt, just för att vi lever i ett stressigt samhälle där man värdesätts utifrån sin extroverta sida. Den kräver med andra ord att man ska mata sitt externa ego, genom att vara omtyckt av omvärlden vare sig det handlar om sociala relationer, prestation, utseende osv, något vi introverta inte har ett behov av. Känns skönt att få lite perspektiv på saker som man ibland inte kan koppla själv!

    11. Spot on, then imagine being social introvert combined with a highly sensitive personality :-) for sure you can have an easier Life, but I’ve learned to make Everything to my advantage and really beagun to understand who I am, finally. And am not anymore trying to fit in somewhere I don’t belong. I’m so glad I’m not the only one.

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