Shyness  V  Introversion  

14 April 2013 by Reza Zolfagharifard

The terms introversion and extroversion were first popularised by Carl Jung (Swiss psychologist 1875-1961).  Extroversion tends to be manifested in outgoing, talkative, energetic behaviour, whereas introversion is manifested in more reserved, quiet, shy-like behaviour.  In other words, introversion is characterised by an inward focus while extroversion by an external concentration.

Sad and Shy.jpg

Extroverts take pleasure in activities that involve other people such as parties, community activities and public gatherings.  Extroverts enjoy spending time with others and find it less rewarding or even boring to spend time alone.  They tend to be energised when around other people and are more prone to boredom and loneliness.

In contrast, introverts are energised mostly through self-reflection.  They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing.  Introverts are likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with others.  However, they may enjoy interactions with close friends or relatives.  Introverts are more analytical and prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time.

Shyness however, is different from introversion as a personality trait.  People can be shy regardless of their natural personality type.  Sometimes people take shyness for introversion.  But in fact, introverts are not essentially shy.  Confident introverts have self-esteem, self-assurance and the social skills necessary for interacting successfully with others but simply prefer to be by themselves.  They feel energised, more effective and focused when they are alone.  They don’t become anxious or self-critical when they are with others and the anxiety and self-consciousness common amongst shy people do not happen to confident introverts.  Many shy people on the other hand, like to be with others, to be noticed and accepted but they lack the self-esteem, attitude and skills that could help them manage such pleasant and successful social interactions.

Shy introverts usually are not able to hide their shyness.  But shy extroverts manage to put up a confident face in most situations.  They respond warmly to other people by smiling, laughing and making eye contact and therefore can effectively hide their shyness.  Sometimes, they are so successful that even their close friends don’t know that they experience many of the same sensations and fears that shy-introverts do.

Shy-extroverts are at their best when they are in well-rehearsed roles and in clearly defined situations.  Their shyness reveals itself only when they leave the well-rehearsed roles and the well-controlled environment e.g. the stage.  Some actors, politicians and TV presenters are examples of such shy-extroverts.

Shy-extroverts clearly demonstrate a special aspect of shyness, i.e.  the separation of public-self from private-self.  Studies show that the feelings of shy-introverts and shy-extroverts are quite similar despite the fact that their public selves are so different.

Confident introverts feel comfortable and do not avoid activities that need cooperation of other people.  In fact they can be effective and pleasant team members.  They value friendship and make excellent companions.  They have a few but very good close friends.  They could be empathic, compassionate and approachable as any extrovert can be.  Most importantly, they live a satisfactory, fulfilling and happy life and can be excellent and effective leaders.

On the contrary, highly shy-people (introvert or not) do not feel comfortable being with other people and usually avoid activities that need involvement of others.  In fact, they cannot be effective team members.  Their friendship is often constrained by their self-consciousness that clouds their relationship.  They lack empathy and compassion and only warm up to others in controlled situations and often cannot sustain long-term friendship.  They do not live a satisfactory, fulfilling and happy life and of course, they lack leadership qualities.

People who are either extrovert or introvert could equally be socially incompetent and lack social skills and attitude that are required for a fulfilling and happy life.

Reza Zolfagharifard

Bold Training Club -  20 March 2013


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