Who stands out?
If you were to ask anyone to name the public figures that stand out for them – past or present – chances are they’ll come up with some charismatic and memorable characters.
Charisma and confidence are often associated with extroversion so many people therefore believe that being an extrovert is better, or certainly that you need to be one to be a leader and stand out.
But is this really true?
The truth may surprise you.
Rather than being two different personality types, introversion and extroversion are two ends of a spectrum introduced in 1910 by renowned Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung.
The subject of introversion and extroversion often comes up early when I’m working with people who want to enhance their communication skills, particularly those who want to be able to deliver great presentations or a memorable speech.
Some will ask my opinion as to whether I think they are an introvert or extrovert. I’ll often see hope in their eyes as I’m about to respond, hope that I’ll say they are indeed an extrovert or that I can make them into one.
I’ve also had introverts come to me in a state of utter frustration because they’ve held a lifelong belief that they can never become a great communicator, be confident or command a room. They’ve often been passed over for opportunities and fear missing out on more so are desperate for things to be different.
The reality is, how introverted or extroverted you are is part of your make up. But it actually has nothing to do with your ability to communicate or be confident or have charisma, although these things may come more easily to those who are more extroverted as they tend to be more social.
Introversion and extroversion actually have more to do with where you gain your energy from. If you’re introverted, you don’t necessarily avoid spending time socialising with people, but you may find that that you get drained when you do this for too long. So, you then need time alone to recharge.
Those who are more extroverted, in contrast, can feel drained when they spend too much time alone, and are recharged by spending time with people.
It’s as simple as that. It’s all about energy.
So, to find out if you’re more introverted or extroverted, simply ask yourself whether you feel more energised spending time with people or time alone.
More introvert and extrovert traits.
There are also some other traits that can help you identify where you are on the introversion-extroversion spectrum.
- Tend to prefer intimate gatherings or one-to-one conversations over spending time with larger groups.
- Prefer to listen over talking, and like to go deep if they can.
- Would choose to work alone over working with a team given the choice.
- Can feel overwhelmed by crowds, noisy environments and chaos.
- Find themselves retreating inside their mind to think and reflect.
- Can be very observant and, as a result, can be more sceptical and questioning.
- Find big events, larger groups and crowds exciting.
- Enjoy collaboration and team work.
- Love talking and are expressive, sometimes to the point of not being able to hold themselves back.
- To figure out what they think, they will often bounce ideas off others and need to consider their feedback and input.
- Their focus tends to be on people and things that are external to them.
- They crave variety and connection.
And, there's another dimension.
As introversion and extroversion are on a spectrum, there is a mid-point.
This is where you’ll find ambiverts.
This third group was coined by social psychologist, Kimball Young in 1927 to describe a person who has a balance of both introversion and extroversion.
They may sway from one to the other depending on the situation and their needs at the time. They can also benefit from a greater level of flexibility.
When you looked at the lists of traits for introverts and extroverts, did you find yourself having multiple preferences from both?
If so, you could be an ambivert.
A question many ask is, are introverts, extroverts or ambiverts the best? The answer is that none are superior. All three have their own strengths and challenges. Whichever you are, it is part of what makes you an original. It makes you Origineur.
And, our society benefits from a diverse range of personalities, especially in leadership whether they bring different perspectives and influences.
If you are an extrovert or ambivert and you’re getting more energy from spending time with people, you’re naturally going to want to spend more time there and, as a result, your communication skills will be stronger. Extroverts are also more likely to find it easier to be confident, strike up a conversation and have charm. Even so, they will benefit from working on these things.
This natural tendency, though, is no different to how a tall person may have an advantage in tennis. A taller player may find it easier to serve faster and more effectively. But a shorter player, still has limbs and muscles.
They can still work on their skills with the potential to equal or exceed the other player with practice. They may also use their smaller stature to their advantage. It may help them be more agile, for example.
Likewise, an introvert can learn to be a great communicator. They can learn to have impact. And they can use attributes of being an introvert to their advantage. For, example their tendency to be more observant may give them unique perspectives that are interesting in a conversation or memorable in a speech. Being great a listener can mean they learn intriguing things and they can use these insights to stand out too.
Developing your impact as a communicator does not require you to change who you are. Quite the contrary. You should be proud of who you are. It’s about showing more of your true self to people when you are with them, creating genuine connection, helping people relate to you and being memorable for that reason. People who are proud and true to who they are inspire respect.
So, whether you are an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert, embrace who you are. Play to your natural strengths and transform your weaknesses, knowing that you absolutely can stand out and you absolutely can make a memorable impact.
- Introversion and extroversion are not personality types but rather two ends of a spectrum that signify primarily whether you are energised by spending time alone or with people. There are also a number of other typical preferences for each.
- Although you can’t change whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you are flexible and adaptable, especially if you are an ambivert, which is a blend between both. By working on your skills, you can become a great communicator, be confident, stand out and make an impact.
- Be proud of who you are and always be true to yourself. In working on your ability to communicate brilliantly, you should work on how you can be authentic, create a genuine connection, be relatable, memorable and inspire respect.