Introvert or Extrovert? How to Succeed as Both
You may have heard a lot about the differences between introverts and extroverts. An abundance of online personality tests can — supposedly — let you know into which category you fall based on your answers to a series of multiple choice questions. Popularized by the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, introversion and extraversion are two terms used to define specific categories of personality traits that describe the way you interact with and view the world around you. Traditionally, extroverts are seen as being more socially engaged, outgoing and interested in interacting with the external world, while introverts are often thought to prefer their inner world and spending time alone, and are easily drained by excessive interaction with others. The lines aren’t always so clear-cut, however, and you might find that you identify with some traits of introversion and some of extraversion. Indeed, most people might find that they fall in a gray area, at least some of the time. It’s possible, and even likely, that you can succeed as both, provided you learn to develop all of your personality traits — even the hidden ones — to the fullest and avoid allowing yourself to be pigeon-holed into thinking you’re simply one or the other.
Cultivate Your Less-Dominant Side
The art of balance is crucial for a happy, healthy and well-rounded life. Everyone has traits of introversion and extraversion — no one is a “pure” introvert or extrovert. Even if you’re an introvert who shirks from social engagements, no man is an island, and you probably enjoy occasional interactions with others — with those few with whom you can cultivate meaningful relationships. On the other hand, no matter how extraverted you might be and how much you thrive on interactions with lots of people, everyone needs solitude to rest and recharge from time to time. If you lean too much on your personality type and neglect your less-dominant side, you might find that your life lacks balance — and that’s not healthy for anyone. For example, if you’re an introvert, you might consistently decline invitations from friends or to parties. While as an extrovert, you might see solitude as a weakness. Instead of going to extremes, take time to discover and appreciate your lesser-known traits.
Succeeding as an Introvert
Introverts may have an especially hard time when they over-identify with their personality type and allow this to have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Admittedly, introverts are often miscast as “loners” or “anti-social” by those who don’t fully understand and appreciate the unique gifts people with this personality type have to offer. If you tend to lean toward the introvert end of the spectrum, realize that it’s OK to be the way that you are. Don’t allow your self-esteem and self-perception to be negatively affected by the opinions of others. At the same time, realize that sometimes, it’s OK to need help from the outside world. Work on developing your talents and strengths and realize that if everyone were the same, the world would be an awfully dull place.
Succeeding as an Extrovert
It’s been said that there are more extroverts than introverts in the world and indeed, the world often seems like it caters more to those who identify as extroverts. Still, if you want to succeed as an extrovert, it’s important to learn to create harmony in your life and to turn down the volume from time to time. Sometimes, it’s OK to sit on the sidelines and allow others to shine. Realize that your high-energy style can sometimes be draining on others. Appreciate your talents but try to keep a healthy balance. For example, since extroverts are often capable and enthusiastic problem-solvers, your natural instinct might be to jump in and say the first thing that comes to mind, instead of allowing others an opportunity to participate. Your enthusiasm might inadvertently come across as dominating or controlling – and of course, this most likely isn’t your intent. Try to pause from time to time and consider the consequences of your actions and words. At the same time, realize that the answer doesn’t always come from the external world — sometimes, it comes from within.