Archive for the ‘introversion’ Category


Ugh, socializing. Here’s how to survive your next shindig, introvert style—you know, minus the social awkwardness.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re shy; spending time alone is a personal preference, like texting instead of calling or eating kale instead of… that really boring lettuce that’s so boring I don’t remember the name of it. That being said, socializing is an important part of the whole being human thing—but the social awkwardness can be a total drag.

Here are 8 strategies you can use to step up your game, while still being your wonderfully introverted self:

1. Practice

The only way to put the kibosh on social awkwardness is to practice being social. Focus on the teeny tiny interactions that typically make you want to tear your skin off and go from there. For example, take the elevator with other people instead of running for the stairs. Gag your way through chit chat with the person standing behind you in the grocery line. Smile and say hi when you pass someone in the hallway at work… without making a face afterward.

And before a (gulp) party, practice what you might talk about when you strike up a conversation with someone new to make it seem like you actually want to be there.

2. Decide which social gatherings are “worth” it

Because socializing uses up a ton of energy, it’s best to decide ahead of time which types of functions are important to you, and which ones you can do without. For example, going to your BFF’s wedding is a no-brainer, while going to her cousin’s half sister’s secretary’s baby shower… well, not so much.

3. Block out quiet time

Make sure you block out time to rest up before and after. Do things that help you relax beforehand, but don’t use up a ton of energy. For example, going for a walk, reading a book, or listening to music. Create a pre-party ritual so when it’s time to go out, you’re ready to put those social skills to the test. Then once you get home, take as much time to unwind as you possibly can, since you just experienced an introvert’s version of a 5K marathon.

4. Bring a partner in crime

Bring an equally introverted friend to the event so you can be there for each other when you need to hyperventilate. Or, bring an extroverted friend who you’re not only comfortable around, but appreciates your social awkwardness and won’t push you into a sea of people (Xanax anyone?). That way you always have someone to talk to, instead of becoming the weird girl in the corner always staring at her phone.

5. Set a goal

Let’s face it: To get yourself out the door, you need to know why going is so important and why you’re about to leave your (full) DVR behind. Whether you’re going out to network for your career, or celebrate a birthday with someone you care about, giving a purpose to the event makes it so that no matter how things go, you’re emotionally fulfilled in the process. Going out for going out’s sake is just not our thang.

6. Find a hiding spot

The second you get to the shindig, make sure to find a hiding spot you can use for privacy in case you ever get overwhelmed by the swarms of people. Ironically, once you find a hiding spot you rarely end up using it—it becomes a comfort just knowing it’s there, which helps you power through any social awkwardness you might stumble across.

7. Plan an escape route

Make sure to have an alternative way home if you drive there with friends, since guaranteed you’re going to want to leave way sooner than they do. Ending up stranded somewhere with a bunch of strangers? Total. Nightmare.

8. Don’t try to be an extrovert

Be crazy and quirky you, because that’s why you were invited in the first place. Your DVR will be waiting for you when you get home.

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Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” brought worldwide recognition to the less overt assets introverts bring to the workplace. While extroversion had historically been regarded as “ideal,” Cain’s book pointed out how office settings often play to the strengths of extroverts. Armed with new insight into the way introverts work best, many business leaders have made adjustments that provide quieter employees an opportunity to shine.

For example, rather than force everyone to participate in large brainstorming sessions, some leaders have started encouraging introverted employees to share their ideas via private email. Similarly, some office managers have created increased opportunities for solitude to allow introverts more privacy. Since most introverts feel exhausted by constant social interaction, these accommodations can help them perform at their peak.

Research confirms that one personality type isn’t necessarily more favorable in the office setting. Introverts and extroverts can both be excellent workers – they just work differently. But, surprising new research suggests working alongside introverts may be detrimental to the careers of extroverts.

What the Research Reveals

A new study that will be published in a forthcoming issue of Academy of Management Journal reports that introverts are less likely to give their extroverted co-workers credit for their work. Not only did introverted participants underrate their extroverted co-workers’ performance, but they were also less likely to endorse them for advancement.
One of the studies involved 178 MBA students at a large university. Each student was assigned to a four or five person team mid-way through the term. Each team had to work together to complete a semester project. The participants completed questionnaires about their team members, the team process, and their own personalities.

Ultimately, introverted participants rated the performance of other introverts higher than the performance of extroverts. Extroverts, however, were not influenced by other employee’s personality traits on their evaluations.

Ultimately, introverted participants rated the performance of other introverts higher than the performance of extroverts. Extroverts, however, were not influenced by other employee’s personality traits on their evaluations.

In today’s world, peer recommendations can be more important than ever. Whether it’s an endorsement on LinkedIn LNKD +1.48% or a comments on a peer evaluation, being held in high regard by your co-workers can certainly have big advantages. Unfortunately, our perception about how our co-workers see us isn’t always accurate (see this previous article: Do Your Counterparts See You As A Pushover Or A Jerk? Study Shows You May Be Oblivious).

While an extrovert may think her counterparts see her as friendly, engaging and enthusiastic, in reality her introverted peers may find her to be loud, attention-seeking, and annoying. As a result, her introverted co-workers may be less motivated to help her advance her career. It’s clear that extroverts may benefit from toning things down a little when interacting with introverts.
Apparently, it really is the quiet ones you have to watch out for. At least, that’s true for extroverts looking for positive peer recommendations from their quieter colleagues.

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.

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Introverts have many wonderful qualities that help them shine in the workplace. They have a capacity for deep thought and meaningful (if fewer) relationships, they are able to intensely focus on important tasks and they have heightened emotional sensitivity, to name a few. But when it comes to supporting the success of their extroverted colleagues, introverts may fall short.

Introverts are more likely to give low evaluations of job performance to extroverted coworkers, according to two new studies. They’re also less likely to give them credit for their achievements or endorse them for raises or promotions, the researchers, led by Dr. Amir Erez of the University of Florida, found.

“The magnitude with which introverts underrated performance of extroverts was surprising,” one of the study’s co-authors, business professor Keith Leavitt of Oregon State University, said in a statement. “The results were very consistent across both studies.”

In the first study, 178 MBA students at a large university in the southeast were assigned to four or five-person project teams for the semester. Halfway through the term, the students were asked to complete questionnaires about their fellow team members, team processes, and their own personalities.

The researchers found that introverts rated the performance of other introverts on the team more highly than they rated the extroverts’ performance. The extroverts’ ratings of other team members, however, were not influenced by the team members’ level of introversion or extroversion.

In the second study, 143 students in a management program participated in a 10-minute online game with three teammates. The participates were not aware that the “teammates” were actually fake and controlled by the researchers. One of the fake team members’ profiles and comments were manipulated during the game to make them seem more introverted or extroverted, but their actual performance on the task didn’t change. The other two were given neutral personalities.

The participants then evaluated their team members and made suggestions about promoting or awarding them bonuses. The introverted participants gave lower evaluations and smaller bonuses to the “extroverted” team member, even though their performance was the same as that of the “introverted” team member. Extroverted participants, on the other hand, gave evaluations and bonuses based on merit rather than personality.

So why do introverts seem to have a bias against their more gregarious colleagues? Introverts may just be more sensitive to others’ personality traits, and may have an aversion to high levels of extroversion or assertiveness, the researchers note.

“Any time we evaluate others, there is a potential for bias, in that we can only remember and process a limited amount of information about that person,” Leavitt said in an email to The Huffington Post. “So, we filter information based upon what is most “useful” to us. Because introverts themselves tend to be lower in assertiveness and thus prioritize harmony, there is value for them in quickly recognizing traits that signal the potential for conflict.”

The research is the first to show how having an introverted personality affects othersin the workplace. Previous studies, however, have shown introversion affects an individual’s own job performance. Introverts may have more trouble concentrating in noisy open-concept offices than extroverts, and therefore may do better in smaller workplaces, or working for themselves.

“At the heart of it, introverts and extroverts respond really differently to stimulation,”Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, told The Huffington Post last year. “Introverts feel most alive and energized when they’re in environments that are less stimulating — not less intellectually stimulating, but less stuff going on.”

This sensitivity may in fact be another reason that introverts judge their extroverted teammates less-than-favorably.

“Extraverts tend to be ‘high stimulus’ people — by talking loudly, passionately, and frequently, they quickly overwhelm their introverted teammates,” said Leavitt. “Accordingly, we found evidence that introverts experience more negative arousal/strong negative emotions after interacting with extroverts, and generally rate them as being less likeable.”

Famous Introverts

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I have always struggled with the question:

“Are you an extrovert or introvert?”

Like most people, I don’t quite fit into either category. In this article and video I want to introduce you to the concept of an ambivert:

Ambivert: n Someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion.

Extroversion and introversion describe how someone reacts to people.

We can also self-select our tendency towards extroversion. Which explanation sounds more like you?

— I am drawn to people, I get energy from social gatherings and am pretty outgoing. (Extrovert)

— It’s draining to be around lots of people. I prefer peace, solitude and quiet time. I usually crave alone time in my free time. (Introvert)

— It depends. (Ambivert)

I will use the terms as labels for the sake of the article, but let’s get one thing straight:

It’s Not a Label, It’s a Spectrum

Instead of thinking about extroversion or introversion as labels, let’s think about this as an extroversion spectrum:


There is an extroversion scale. You can rank low, high or medium. People who fall in the middle of the spectrum are ambiverts.

Why Ambiverts Are Awesome

Many people assume that exotrverts are the best at sales, the best leaders and are the most successful at work — WRONG! Adam Grant, an associate professor at Wharton School, did an analysis of 35 separate studies and found that the statistical relationship between extroversion and income was basically zero.

He conducted a personality survey and collected three-month sales records for more than 300 salespeople, both male and female. The people who ranked right in the middle for extraversion and introversion (ambiverts) turned out to be the best salespeople.

Ambiverts pulled in 24 percent more in revenue than introverts, and a mind-boggling 32 percent more in revenue than extroverts!

Grant guessed that ambiverts seem to strike a balance between the two more extreme personality traits:

“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant said.

1. Are You An Ambivert?

First, lets find out how you rank on the scale. Do you think you might be an ambivert? Or do you know one in your life? Take the free Ambivert quiz.

2. Situational Introversion

Ambiverts typically slide up and down the spectrum depending on the situation, context and people around them. I call this situational introversion.

For example, there are certain locations that make me extremely nervous and quiet — nightclubs, rooftop bars and stereotypically ‘chic’ places make me feel super out of place. Whereas in learning environments like classrooms, workshops or seminars you can’t get me to shut up. I constantly have my hand raised, try to make friends with everyone sitting within 10 feet of me and always ask for extra credit.

If you want to master your people skills you have to build a solid foundation.

3. Find Your Nourishing Locations

I split locations into three categories: Survive, Neutral and Thrive. This is directly from Day 2: Detox Your Life in my Master Your People Skills course:


Right now use this list of common places to find your top three thrive locations — where you are your best self and your top three survive locations — where you dread going.

House Party
Board Rooms
Office Meetings
Coffee Shops
Cocktail Party
Backyard BBQ
Networking Event

When you know where you thrive you can build your schedule and your time around the locations where you can be your best self.

4. Find Your Nourishing People

Who brings out the best in you? People can also effect where we fall on the extroversion scale. Are there people you dread seeing? How about people you can’t get enough of?

Right now, make a list of the toxic and nourishing people in your life:



See every person on that nourishing list: Text, email or call them right now to get together.

See every person on that toxic list: You deserve to be around people who sustain you. Take your life back from toxic people.

5. The Ambivert Advantage

Being able to balance both extroversion and introversion is an asset. See these associated traits by Larry Kim:

-Flexible: Ambiverts can typically be adaptive to context and situations more easily.
-Stable: According to psychologist Hans Eysenck, who coined the term “ambivert” in 1947, ambiverts offer a good balance between the hypersensitivity of some introverts and the domineering attitude of some extroverts.
-Intuitive: Daniel Pink said that ambiverts “know when to speak up and when to shut up, when to inspect and when to respond, when to push and when to hold back.”

6. Amplify Your Ambiversion

Now I want you to leverage your ambiversion! Here’s how:

“The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant said. Know when to flexibly use the traits that serve you.

I want you to take control of who and how you spend your time. I am giving you permission — you do not have to spend time with people or in places that drain you.

Life is too short to spend time with toxic people in draining places!

If you have to see a toxic person — like a family member or co-worker, use time blocking to buffer time with them. If you know you have to see them, be sure to schedule in some recharge time for yourself before or after. You can also have an escape route or excuse ready to go if your time with them runs long. Use scheduling to your advantage by blocking out times and places that work best for your personality.

Remember: There is no right or wrong personality type. The only right thing to do is to live, act and address who you really are. Act on your strengths, purge toxicity and get to know your true self.

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We love to proudly label ourselves as introverts or extraverts. If the Internet has anything to say about it, introverts particularly enjoy categorizing themselves as suchand connecting with fellow introverts (virtually, not in person of course) over their mutual distaste for parties and small talk.

But in reality, few of us fit neatly into either of these personality types. And for those of us who are truly in the middle of the introversion/extraversion spectrum, there’s a name, too. Psychologists refer to such people as ambiverts, meaning that we express qualities and behaviors of both introverts and extraverts, depending on the situation.

To be sure, some people do fall squarely into either the introvert or the extravert camp. But roughly 38 percent may be somewhere in between, personality psychologist Robert R. McCrae told The Huffington Post.

On scales of personality, you can become an ambivert through two routes: You can answer in the middle of the scale on all the items — for instance, you feel neutral about social situations and crowds, and you’re also lukewarm in your enjoyment of staying in and being alone. Or, you can be an ambivert because you oscillate between the two extremes — sometimes you’re the life of the party, and other times you want nothing but solitude.

To some extent, the classification is arbitrary. Judging degrees of extraversion is like judging how tall or short a person is. Any judgment of a person’s height depends on how we define short and tall, just as judging one’s level of extraversion depends on how we define introvert, extravert and ambivert.

Still, those who are able to draw from the strengths of both personality types — the capacity for solitude, focus and quiet self-reflection of an introvert, and the outgoing, friendly and approachable nature of of an extravert — may have the advantage.

“Ambiverts can take the best of both,” personality psychologist Brian Little, author ofMe, Myself and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, told The Huffington Post. “Those who are ambiverts have rather more degrees of freedom to shape their lives than those who are at extremes of other ends.”

Here’s what you should know about ambiverts and the introversion/extraversion spectrum.

Your level of extraversion is all about how easily stimulated you are.

Being an introvert or extravert isn’t just a question of how friendly or social you are. According to the “arousal model,” it’s more a matter of how stimulated you are, particularly in the neuron-dense neocortex of the brain, which acts as the center for higher mental functions such as spatial reasoning, conscious thought, language and sensory perception. At too high a level of arousal, we might feel frazzled, stressed-out and overwhelmed, and at too low a level, we might find ourselves feeling bored and restless.

There’s an optimal level of neocortical arousal, Little explains. While extraverts are below the level of ideal arousal, and therefore need to seek out exciting, stimulating situations, introverts are chronically above the optimal level of arousal (meaning that they have a lower threshold for stimulation). As a result, introverts try to lower their level of arousal by seeking out quieter environments and activities, which has a lot to do with why they are often misconstrued as being antisocial.

Ambiverts, by definition, are right in between the two when it comes to arousal — either because they go back and forth between being over and under the optimal level of arousal, or because they’re usually in the middle at a comfortable level of arousal — so they’re generally comfortable with a balance of both calmer and more stimulating experiences.

Ambiverts are able to harness the fluid nature of personality.

The 19th century American psychologist William James once said that by the age of 30, the personality is “set like plaster.” Some research has supported this claim, and the idea of introversion and extraversion as categories of personality implies that we have relatively fixed traits. But Little argues that our personalities may be much more fluid than we think.

“I think [James] only got it 50 percent right,” said Little. “I think we as humans are essentially half plastered. One of the ways in which we have greater tractability and capacity to shift is through engaging in what I call ‘free traits’ — an introverted person can act extraverted, and they can do this for some period of time, but not for a protracted period.”

To some extent, introverts can behave as extraverts, and vice versa. But if an introvert pushes themselves to act like an extravert for too long — going out and socializing every night, or putting themselves in too many high-stimulation situations — they’re likely to burn out.

An ambivert, on the other hand, consistently moves between the two orientations, and is more able to take advantage of the fluid nature. Having a flexible personality allows the ambivert to better adapt to different situations, and to make the most of various personal characteristics.

“Ambiverts are in that nice zone, in that sweet spot, where they’re able to act out of character as a pseudo-introvert or a pseudo-extravert, without paying the nervous system costs,” said Little.

They have an advantage in certain types of performance.

Psychologist Dan Pink coined the term “ambivert advantage” to describe the ambivert’s superior ability to draw on the strengths of both introverts and extraverts.

In the domain of sales specifically, ambiverts excel — contrary to the stereotype of the charismatic, ultra-extraverted salesperson. Research conducted by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Adam Grant, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that ambiverts are more effective than introverts and extraverts at closing sales. Grant studied the staff of a software company and assessed where each person stood on a 1-7 scale of introversion to extraversion. He found that neither the strong introverts (those who scored 1 or 2) nor the strong extraverts (scores of 6-7) were the most effective salespeople. Instead, the ambiverts were by far the most effective in selling the software.

Grant hypothesized that although successful salespeople do require some degree of assertiveness, strong extraverts may sometimes be too assertive and enthusiastic to close the sale. Ambiverts, on the other hand, may strike a better balance between assertiveness and approachability.

“My research indicates that organizations stand to benefit from training highly extraverted salespeople to model some of the quiet, reserved tendencies of their more introverted peers,” Grant concluded.

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Introverts have been having a bit of a moment in the spotlight lately. (Ironic, since that’s the place they’re least likely to enjoy themselves.) A few dozen Buzzfeed quizzes, a New York Times bestselling book and even a viral TEDtalk have all recently celebrated what life is like on the shy end of the spectrum.

By now most of us have gotten the message that our introverted brethren aren’t actually confirmed misanthropes or constitutionally awkward.

Introversion and extroversion, as personality types, have more to do with how and where a person gains and expends their energy.

Extroverts get charged up around others and wind down when they’re alone, while an introvert’s emotional batteries are refreshed in solitude and used up in social encounters.

Introverts make up about a third of the population, but modern workplace cultures and practices are strongly geared towards the extroverted personality type.

The ways we traditionally assess, identify, and celebrate communication, creativity, and leadership qualities can lead to overlooking the unique and highly valuable ways that introverts can contribute.

Worse, the current workplace environment can stifle the development and expression of those qualities in introverts before they even get started.

This is a huge loss for both introverted employees and the organization as a whole. The good news is that it’s easy to adjust the way you work in order to help introverts shine.

The best bosses already make a point of valuing each worker’s individual attributes, and this is no different.

What Introverts Have To Offer

If you take a look at the qualities celebrated by management manuals and self-improvement books, you’re likely to see the portrait of an extrovert. Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, describes it as:

“The Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight.”

From job listings to annual reviews, the language describing a “perfect” employee with leadership potential is familiar: confident, take-charge, charismatic, upbeat, team player, outgoing, enthusiastic.

While some of these are qualities that many introverts possess in spades, their expression of these traits may be very different than expected, and consequently easy to overlook.

Extroverts are happy to push their ideas forward, speak up in meetings, take a risk on untested innovation, and exploit the power of interpersonal relationships and networking.

The value of this working style is clear in a corporate environment, but a quick look at some of the biggest bungles in the business world will show how terribly wrong things can go without balance.

Unchecked egos, unbridled enthusiasm, and unbounded ambition can cause a divisive and inefficient workplace at best, and corporate scandals at worst. That’s where the introverts come in.

The specific qualities of introverts are a powerful counterweight to extrovert excess. What can look like disengagement or hesitation from a distance is actually deep listening and careful thought.

Introverts also believe in self-management/autonomy, so it makes it easier on both managers and the companies. Here’s a quick CultureTalk on the subject:

What may be dismissed as a lack of enthusiasm is actually a profound respect for other viewpoints. These quiet strengths add an amazing dimension to a team if they are appreciated.

A recent study showed that in many circumstances, introverted leaders actually produce better results than their brasher counterparts, largely because they are willing to give proactive and extroverted employees the room to run with their own strengths and ideas.

This isn’t a matter of one style trumping the other, but of the harmony that a careful recognition and distribution of complementary qualities can bring to an organization.

What We Can Offer Introverts

From hiring practices to the day-to-day workflow right through promotions, bringing out the best in introverts really only requires a slight shift in perspective and a few simple changes.

For example, you don’t have to be an introvert to find meetings challenging. Competing opinions or intense brainstorming sessions can create a pressurized environment for anyone, but for introverted team members they can be completely counterproductive.

Reducing the frequency of meetings and capping the headcount wherever possible can help a lot.

It’s also a good practice to go back around the table a few times to give quieter members a chance to speak up after they’ve had some time to process.

It may be easier for an introvert to contribute one-on-one than as part of a group, so make a point of personally inviting introverted employees to meet with you privately.

As introverts often express themselves better in writing, you may also want to consider asking for follow-up ideas by email after the meeting.

Open plan offices, despite their many weaknesses, are a fact of life in the modern workplace. While the distractions, germs, and inefficiencies of this model are a trial for everyone, they are especially detrimental to the concentration and productivity of introverts, who may be overstimulated to the point of severe stress in this environment.

You may not be able to offer a private office to everyone, but consider setting aside a conference room or other quiet space for certain periods of each day, and make it available to those who could use the time alone to think and process.

Under these circumstances, the creativity of an introvert can blossom, and they may be able to get a lot more done in a lot less time.

It’s also good to remember that the rough-and-tumble nature of a dynamic office can be especially bruising to introverts. Interactions that roll off an extrovert’s back may stick much longer with an introvert: a bit of extra attention to office courtesy can go a long way.

Contrary to stereotype, introverts are exceptional team-players. They may struggle with the social aspects of working in a group, but a recent study found that over time they are ranked higher than their extroverted teammates because of their devotion and focus to the task at hand.

Helping them flourish in a group may mean ensuring that they have time and space away to recharge.

A friendly working lunch may be heaven to an extrovert, but leave introverts feeling drained and cornered: it’s okay if they prefer to eat their sandwich alone in a private corner. They’re not lonely or left-out, they are relaxing and regrouping.

It’s also important for leaders to keep a close eye on the group dynamics. Introverts are not only more likely to be the target of workplace bullying, they are also much less likely to report it or ask for help.

In general, helping introverts feel that they are a valued part of the team is important, but may require a slightly different approach. Introverts love people, and they often love company: they just often relate better person-to-person, in a calm environment, and with plenty of time.

A boisterous breakroom or the cluster around the water-cooler that are so valuable to extroverts in building their “work family” can be intimidating or off-putting to introverts.

Taking time to regularly stop by their desk for a quick check-in, remembering special dates with a quiet card, and inviting them out for a coffee now and then are much better ways to build relationships and foster a sense of belonging.

The care and feeding of introvert employees isn’t rocket science, and introverts are not fragile or exotic specimens. Understanding their habits and ideal habitats, and making a few small tweaks to accommodate their differences can have a transformational effect on a company’s cohesion, creativity, and productivity.

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Dear Extrovert,

First, let me start by thanking you for being in my life. You are the yang to my yin. You get me out more, meeting new people, having new experiences and stretching my comfort zone. You help color my external world with a vast richness that I would never find on my own. In return, hopefully, I show you the vibrant colors that exist inside you. I am an expanding being partly because of you and I am eternally grateful.

But there are some things I need to get off my chest. Because I care deeply about you, I’m afraid that if I tell this to your face, I will see the hurt in your eyes and end up taking back what I really meant or making up half-truths to soften the blow. I’m afraid you won’t understand and my feeble verbal attempts to explain it will only make it sound worse than it really is. And mostly, I’m afraid I will do what I have always done in my life and make your wants and needs out to be more valid than mine.

You see, this is an extrovert world, and I have always felt like a visitor in it. I’m the tourist on the sidelines with the camera hanging around her neck, snapping photos of the loud, screaming players as they push, elbow and shove each other to get control of the coveted ball in the game of life.

I’m not part of that world. The problem is I’ve been told that I’m supposed to be part of it, I’m supposed to want the ball, and worse, I’m supposed to be more like the other players in it. And as much as I tried in the past, I failed miserably. As a child and especially a teenager, I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. When all the other kids vied to sit at the most popular table in the cafeteria, I just wanted to eat my ham sandwich in the corner in peace and quiet. When all the other kids wanted to go to the mall, I just wanted to go home and read my books. When all the other kids had sleepovers, I yearned for the quiet comfort of my own bed.

You might have thought I was shy or stuck up, but the truth is I didn’t care.

Actually, I did. But not for the right reasons. I wanted to be more like you because that’s what everyone told me I should be. I wanted the attention you were getting because that’s what everyone said makes a person important.

Introverts may not want popularity, but they want to be important too.They need to know they are important. And that same attention that energized and gave you a sense of importance, when turned on me, gave me a sense of inadequacy. I knew I was supposed to like the attention, but instead it drained the life right out of me.

That’s because I was pretending to be who the world told me I should be because who I was evidently wasn’t enough.

The world told me that those who raise their hands often, speak up and engage in the class or in the meeting are the ones who are going somewhere, who have initiative and are team players. Those who go to parties every weekend and have 500 “closest friends” are the ones who matter.

And I tried to be one of those people. I tried to play in your game and be a part of your world. I gave it all I had. And frankly, it’s utterly exhausting. Truth be told, all I have is not good enough. It’s not good enough because I’M NOT A PART OF YOUR WORLD. I’M NOT LIKE YOU.

My best will never be good enough when measured by your, or anyone else’s, standards. But that’s a wonderful thing! That means I will never be good enough at being someone I’m not. And I absolutely love who I am. A tree will never be good enough at being a rock, no matter how hard it tried or pretended. A tree is a tree and a rock is a rock, and that, my friend, is good enough!

So now, dear extrovert, I’d like to be unapologetically honest and share MY world with you. I’ve put down the camera and I’m playing smack dab in the middle of my own game, in my own field. And I find that there are many players on this field too, all playing the same game, just for the fun of it, all on the same team, laughing and sharing the ball with each other.

Maybe it’s my 43 years of life experience that has taught me that my world is just as valid and important as anyone’s, or maybe it’s because I’m home alone right now, recharged, energized, feeling frisky, confident and secure in who I am, that I want to let you in to my world. Whatever the reason, here are five things you should know about me.

1) When you invite me to parties, social gatherings, or anywhere there is basically more than two people, I cringe inside. I do. I know. I’m not sorry. You might think it’s a good thing to be invited and I should be grateful, but I’m not. While you’re asking me, I’m thinking of excuses to get out of it and pray that I have a good one by the time you finish your sentence so that it seems genuine. If I don’t come up with one, I’ll tell you I have plans and hope you don’t press further. If you do, I’ll have to be honest and tell you that I plan to be alone. If that’s something you won’t understand or will be hurt by, then don’t press further and respect my response without explanation. I’m not asking you to stop inviting me, I actually appreciate that you like me enough to want my company. I’m just saying that when I turn you down four times out of five, it’s because I’d rather be alone more often than not and sometimes being around others makes me morbidly uncomfortable and ironically, lonely.

2) While you get energy from being around people, my energy depletes around people. It’s just the way it is. I’m probably good for two, three hours tops, then my battery starts flashing red. While you might recharge by surrounding yourself with even more people, I recharge by finding solitude. To me, solitude after an evening of social engagement is like a sweet hot chocolate topped with melted marshmallows after a long hike in a blizzard. On Mount Everest. Naked.

3) When I invite you to my home, I’m not asking you to stay for most the day or (gasp!) overnight. I know you may be too tired to drive home, but if you hadn’t stayed so long, you wouldn’t be so tired. If you’re from out of town, and not in my small inner circle of close friends and family, I’ll help you find a great hotel. If you’re short on cash, I may even help you pay for it. If you’re from out of town and a member of my inner circle, seven days is my max. After seven days, you might find me locked in my room for hours on end with my noise canceling headset listening to nothing but white noise, lying flat on the floor staring at the ceiling and basking in the heavenly space of solitude. If you don’t know if you’re a member of my inner circle, you’re not.

My home is my sanctuary. Only those who mean everything to me are invited in, so if you’ve been invited, you know how much you mean to me, therefore you must also know that this isn’t personal against you. It simply means I need my space. Because of who I am, not because of who you are.

4) When I’m in the middle of doing something and I’m interrupted, I get irrationally homicidal. To be clear, “doing something” basically means “anything.” In other words, when I’m in the middle of anything, like reading, writing, thinking, staring into space, anything, and the phone rings or you knock on the door to ask me a quick question, something inside me rages and a volcano of hot flames and lava erupts from deep within. It’s instant and automatic. And I have no idea where it comes from or how to stop it. All I know is one moment I was at peace, enjoying the bliss of being alone in my own thoughts, and the next, you were there and an enraged fire dragon spewed out of me. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happens. It only lasts a short moment, and if I can get over it without having to understand it, hopefully you can too.

5) Silence is not uncomfortable, it’s welcomed. I would rather ride the elevator up in complete silence than engage in idle chit chat simply to fill the space. I promise I absolutely will NOT be hurt if you don’t ask how I am or if I’m enjoying the weather. If I look uncomfortable while you’re idly chatting with me, it’s because I am. Your chit chat is an intrusion in my space. While you may not hold that space sacred, I do. So if we must talk to fill the space, can we at least talk about something deeper and more meaningful?

How are you?
Good, you?
How was your weekend?
Great, you?

How is that possibly better than the sweet sound of silence?

Now that you know these things about me, maybe we can play together in a blended world where my extreme is as respected as yours, in a game that accepts and appreciates all its players for who they are individually, embracing and recognizing that it’s their differences that bring balance and harmony to this wonderful game of life.

I invite you to express yourself and share a part of you and your world with me, as I did here. I would love to learn more about you. Just don’t call me. A letter would be better so I can read it on my own time in my own space at my own pace. Because that’s how I play ball, and I love that about myself.

All my love,
A Happy Introvert
(OK now stop reading; I need my space.)

Tree Franklyn is a writer, doodler and creator of TreeDoodles. Her books and e-courses inspire women to live life fully by living their truth and finding their inner divine happiness. Download her free e-book, The #1 Reason You’re Not {Bouncing-off-the-walls, Swinging-from-the-stars, Hopping-in-the-clouds} Happy at www.FindYourInnerHappy.com.

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If you’re headed into some important meeting, you might down a cup or two of coffee without thinking much of it, hoping the caffeine will provide your brain with an extra boost. But in his new book on personality science, psychologist Brian Little suggests that for introverts, this strategy may backfire.

Here’s what Little writes in Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, which was just released last week:

After ingesting about two cups of coffee, extraverts carry out tasks more efficiently, whereas introverts perform less well. This deficit is magnified if the task they are engaging in is quantitative and if it is done under time pressure.

For an introvert, an innocent couple cups of coffee before a meeting may prove challenging, particularly if the purpose of the meeting is a rapid-fire discussion of budget projections, data analysis, or similar quantitative concerns. In the same meeting, an extraverted colleague is likely to benefit from a caffeine kick.

Intriguing. Science of Us contacted Little, a lecturer at Cambridge University, to find out more.

Why does coffee seem to have this effect on introverts?
This isn’t my own research, but it’s based on the theory of extraversion by Hans Eysenck and research by William Revelle of Northwestern University. It’s the idea that introverts and extraverts differ in the level of neocortical arousal in the brain — in other words, how alert or responsive you are to your environment. According to this theory, introverts are over the optimal level — that is, more easily stimulated — and extraverts under the optimal level.

It’s more complex than that, but this is a useful model because it allows us to make some predictions. This suggests that performance will be compromised for introverts if they are exposed to stimulating situations, or if they ingest a stimulant (such as caffeine),which pushes them even further away from the optimal level.

So when should introverts have their coffee, then?
Later in the day would be better; at any rate, they should try not to have caffeine right before something like an important meeting, as I say in the book.

Are there other foods or drinks that may have a similar effect on introverts?
Anything that is a central nervous system stimulant (including recreational stimulants). Being in a noisy, overloading place will create a similar effect.

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