Introversion Doesn’t Equal Shyness

I’ve noticed lately that it’s common for people to use the word “introverted” to mean “shy,” and “extroverted” to mean “friendly.” This was underscored in a recent conversation with a friend who said, “When I’m with people, I’m totally engaged. I’m tuned in. But I’m an introvert, so it drains me. I have to recharge before I can be that engaged again.”

This person isn’t shy or reserved. She’s a great communicator and listener. She builds tremendous rapport with her colleagues. And, at the end of the day, she needs time alone to build up that energy to do it all over again.

We do ourselves and others a favor when we distinguish between “how a person gets their energy” and “whether someone is talkative.” They’re different characteristics that don’t always overlap in the way they are often stereotyped. Plenty of extroverts, people who are energized around others, can feel shy around strangers or in a crowd. Many introverts–people who get energy from being alone—are comfortable conversing with strangers and even being in the spotlight. 

I’m an introvert who is talkative in small groups, even around people I don’t know. I regularly lead workshops and meet new people, and, like the client I mentioned above, I’m totally engaged. I love people! And when the day is over, I re-energize by having some time alone.

I’m curious: how would you describe yourself?

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