By Allen Prescott
Whenever I tell someone I'm an introvert they usually say,
"But Allen, you're so outgoing. You're not an
introvert." Whenever I tell someone that I created an
introvert discussion group, they laugh and say,
"Did anybody show up?" Many people tell me that introverts
are shy, hate talking to people and always
look like they are angry. My extensive research about
introverts has addressed these myths, which I will
discuss in this article.
First, a definition of introverts. Introverts enjoy being
alone. They like to be around certain people in
small doses -- but for the most part they have to pull back
and need to be by themselves to feel
recharged. Typically, introverts are sensitive to noise,
conversations, and feelings so it can be exhausting
for them to be around large groups of people or an overly
talkative person because they take it all in.
Even when introverts are outgoing, they balance themselves
by being alone.
What about extroverts? Extroverts get energy from being
around people. It is common for them to feel
lonely when by themselves and thus seek people out much of
the time. They don't have to be the center
of attention, however they feel their best and the most
energized in a group. In working on tasks
extroverts do better in a group of people as opposed to
working alone which introverts prefer.
Myth #1: Introverts hate talking to people.
Introverts do not hate talking to people. Instead,
introverts are selective with whom they want to talk
to. Introverts prefer talking to people they already know
and trust. Introverts are very private and will
not reveal themselves to you until they trust you. If an
introvert does not know you, they need to warm
up to you first before opening up.
Introverts dislike small talk; however, if you find a
subject of interest to them, an introvert can talk your
ear off. Sometimes you won't be able to shut them up. Small
talk, to an introvert, is noise, boring, fluff. If
you only want to do small talk then your introverted
conversation partner will probably not want to
participate, which by the way could be incorrectly
interpreted as they do not like you.
Myth #2: All introverts are shy.
Wrong! Myth #1 addresses this by stating, "introverts are
selective with whom they want to talk to."
When an introvert joins a group of people (say, at a
party), they want to first scan the room, look for
someone they already know, get a feel for the various
conversations happening, feel the ambiance, or
hang out at the refreshments area. When an introvert does
talk to someone it's because they want to or
is interested in the subject matter of the discussion.
Let's look at shyness. Some introverts are shy. Some
extroverts are shy. A shy person fears rejection.
They don't talk easily because they feel they will say
something wrong or look stupid. A shy person
usually has low self-esteem. The good news is that shy
people can build their confidence and increase
their self-esteem and gradually overcome their shyness. I
am here to tell you this is possible as I have
learned to do this.
Myth #3: Introversion is the opposite of being outgoing.
I recently discovered that I'm outgoing. I used to think
that because of my quiet and reserved nature of
being an introvert, there was something wrong with me. I
hesitated and held back when meeting new
people (see myth #1). I was a little shy (see myth #2).
However, after I learned the "introvert way," I was
a changed person. I now understand why I'm a little slow to
warm up to strangers. I've taken enough
risks and stepped outside of my comfort zone enough to
overcome my shyness. Along the way I
discovered that I'm outgoing, in my own introvert way. I'm
friendly, I like meeting new people, and I can
make people feel comfortable around me. Sounds like
outgoing to me!
Myth #4: Introverts always look like they are angry.
Ok, lots of introverts have blank expressions on their
faces much of the time. Thus, the introvert's blank
expressions can be interpreted as they are angry. However,
they are not. Well, probably not. Actually,
you really cannot tell until you ask them. Introverts may
respond by saying that they are thinking, or
daydreaming, or just enjoying listening to the
conversations, or perhaps they are angry. Let me explain.
Introverts are inwardly focused. Introverts are taking in
all of the external stimulus around them and
processing it to make sense of it. All of this is happening
internally (their mind). They do not feel a need
to show with their facial expression what is going on
inside. Most of the time they do not even realize
they have a blank expression. Extroverts, on the other
hand, are outwardly focused. They think out loud.
They work out problems by talking about them, usually with
other people. They feel the need to show
what's going on inside them with their facial expressions.
If they are happy, sad, fascinated, surprised,
and yes, mad, they show it with their facial expression.
Most of the time they do not even realize this.
I hope you understand the introvert persona a little
better. I'll address more myths in future articles.
However, I'm really excited to tell you about a very
important topic in the next article. That's the
Extrovert Ideal. Here's a teaser: Our western society
values the extrovert persona more than the
Introvert persona. Therefore, that's what has caused so
many problems for introverts. But more later.
Bye for now.
Prescott is a native Texan, who lived in the greater
area most of his life. In 1985 he met the woman of his dreams and married in
1987. We have two boys ages 24 and 27. Allen is software engineer who
worked on the Space Shuttle program for 12 years at Johnson Space
Center. During a downturn
in he was laid off due to the decline in the price of a barrel of oil. He
found a perfect job in Huntsville,
AL working on the new NASA rocket
called the Space Launch System (SLS). You can contact Allen at