Introverts already feel left out a lot of the time.
It doesn’t help that there’s about a hundred myths floating around out there about us and how we see things, why we “act” the way we do (as if we are actually the kind of people who want attention), and when we’re going to “change.”
I always feel a little for the people who discover quickly that we aren’t (going to change). And the reason we aren’t going to change is because it’s our responsibility as much as it is the next person’s to simply be ourselves. To grow, mature, learn, embrace new things yes, but to always remain true to our inner nature & thought life, the same way the extrovert honors their outings and social landscape.
And this is not a bashing session toward extroverts. Some introverts are harder on themselves than other people are on them because they feel so different. And it’s frustrating. And they don’t know how to relay that frustration, so they go the only place they know to go that feels safe – inward.
I saw an article this week on The Wall Street Journal online that literally made my blood boil. I saw the headline and I swear my blood pressure rose immediately. The article boldly proclaimed, “How An Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like An Extrovert.”
Clinch fists. Take a breath.
I almost lost my marbles.
Then….I decided to read it. I understood from a marketing standpoint, the title could have been there to simply draw people in to read, so I waited to have a full-on freak out session.
I didn’t end up having a freak-out session, but I did read the whole article. I remained a little disgusted with the premise of it throughout, to be honest. And if I may be so bold as to say – I strongly disagreed with what they’re calling “research.” I’d like to see the data, the controls, the variables and everything that was involved in them publishing it.
From that article, the author quoted the infamous Susan Cain (who I hope to have on here soon for our Expressive Introvert series):
[quote author=”The Wall Street Journal”]We live in a culture that very much subscribes to the extrovert ideal of being bold and assertive,” said Susan Cain, a former corporate lawyer who wrote a book last year called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” which argues that introverts are unfairly maligned. Rather than trying to get introverts to act more extroverted, she argues that society should be drawing on their natural strengths, which can include being a good listener and working creatively.[/quote]
I love Susan’s work, but this quote and most I see online are giving the connotation that assertiveness is an “extroverted” trait, to which I say “no.” And “no” again.
Assertiveness is NOT an extroverted trait, but rather a form of communication every human being on this planet can learn and use to their greatest advantage – especially the introvert who wants to live more visibly, while maintaining her inner sanctuary.
So…that’s myth #1:
Assertiveness is an extroverted trait.
Assertive communication in and of itself has too many misconceptions, so I can understand why there are even more misconceptions surrounding who it’s available to, who qualifies to use it, and who the “typical” person is who is assertive.
Side Note – *One of my favorite games to play online (well, okay the only one) is Candy Crush Saga. I love that game and yes, am a little bit of an addict. So, what I’m about to say reminds me of “clearing the jelly”.
I have met numerous extroverts who confuse assertiveness with outright rude, disrespectful and boisterous behavior. Likewise, I’ve met my fair share of introverts who are totally rude beyond repair when trying this form of communication.
Those variables, along with the misconceptions, are exactly why introverts who want to be more assertive have a bit of a skewed vision of what this looks like in a healthy environment and way – why they’re often reluctant to embrace it as something that’s possible for them.
It’s akin to raising children. What you model for them has a whole lot to do with how they might behave later. The chances are greater that they will emulate what you do in many ways. But this isn’t just a childlike pattern – it’s a real basis of human psychology. We humans do what we see other humans doing.
This is precisely why introverts can get caught in the “say yes, say no” pattern – yes when we want to say no, and no when we want to say yes.
There are other reasons why introverts may be apprehensive to assertive behavior, but that’s another post for another time. Today, I’d just like to really teach to this and have you know it in your core – assertiveness is a form of communication, not an extroverted trait.
I may get a lot of flack for teaching this, but I can accept that. I believe in this too much to stand away from it. I want you to know it’s 100% okay to learn assertiveness and employ it in your life. You can do it in a healthy, liberating, and beneficial way that serves you well in your introversion.
And while we’re on this subject, let’s move to myth #2.
My need for more refined expression makes me an extrovert wanna-be.
To this statement, I’d like to officially assign the name of a popular, (yet gross in my books) lunch meat name…
Bologna. And more bologna.
I have never met one introvert who actually wants to be an extrovert. Maybe they exist, but I’ve never known one.
Who I have known are introverts who want to be recognized and included just like our extroverted counterparts. We want to learn how to completely maintain our in-depth thought life while being able to express more freely than we traditionally may have with our families, friends, and at work. We want both – to be more expressive and yet, keep the beautiful edge of our own personality, which is quiet thought and meditation on life.
We do not want to be more extroverted.
When I used to try to act like my extroverted friends, I would feel I needed to sleep for days to recover.
I definitely wanna be, but I wanna be me.
Introversion is my crutch and excuse to get through life.
I have read this in books and heard a few people say that introverts use their introversion as an “excuse” to act a certain way.
And okay, to be fair – and because none of us are perfect – there are probably some introverts out there who will use their introvert personality to get through life – constantly throwing it up in people’s faces and utilizing it as a crutch to get their way.
However, knowing this community like I do, those are not the introverts I attract or my business serves.
Furthermore, introversion is not a crutch.
Did you know that psychologists use 5 main traits to classify personalities and the introversion/extroversion evaluation is one of the main ones? Others include openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism.
So….introversion isn’t a crutch – it’s a true personality trait. If anything’s a crutch, it’s the knowledge we are constantly pulling in about who we are (which is frequently overwhelming), why we love what we love and how to live optimally in this overstimulating world, considering our personality. And to me, knowledge has never been anything bad to lean on.
If we have a crutch, it’s likely on everything we’re learning about ourselves to try to live and be a better introvert in a predominantly extroverted Western culture – not on our introversion as a means to “up the ante”. Are there advantages to being an introvert? Absolutely! But there are as many or more that extroverts contain – especially in the corporate world. Trust me when I say we’re definitely not leaning on our introversion to put us more in the game – we’re leaning on what we can know about it to help us stay in it, thrive in it, and be happy while doing it.
Quiet = Silent Judgment
The final myth I’m addressing today is this notion that introverts’ quietness is a sign of silent judgment.
Again, I’m sure there are exceptions, but here in this community, we don’t embrace this way of living as an introvert. We don’t sit back with our arms folded just to judge everything and everyone around us.
I like to talk and walk with introverts who are more conscious of their aptitude for quietness than that. The ones who, like me, know our reserved style at times is just our taking everything in. We don’t need or desire to comment on every little thing, and it drains us to be around people who constantly want acknowledgement of their sentences, thoughts, processes or opinions (or who always feel the need to ask “how do I look?”).
Honestly, we might literally have nothing to say, but it doesn’t mean we’re judging you. We may have something to say in 2 hours once we take it in, but maybe not. It’s just the way we’re wired. And when it does come out, it will more than likely be us asking for more info, not wanting to judge what we’ve heard. (At least this is what I advocate for).
I’d love to hear from you now if you have something to share…
1. Have you ever felt like one of these myths have been applied to you, either in your family, in other relationships or at work?
2. What are some other myths you’d like to add to the conversation here?
Remember, this is not like other places online or that you may encounter who don’t “get” you – this is a community full of introverted women (and men) just like you who are walking this walk together. Your thoughts could truly help someone else with their situation.
Thank you so much for being with me here and rocking your quiet life,
Are you possibly interested in learning more about the 4 communication styles and assertiveness? If so, go here to sign up for when the next class is offered!