Author Michaela Chung of The Irresistible Introvert did a radio interview for The Candy Palmater Show. Although Palmater identifies as an extrovert, she is married to an introvert and shows great interest in learning about introversion. As Chung discussed what introversion is and how she discovered she was an introvert, Palmater shared her disturbing experience at a workshop she attended in the past. She mentioned that as the presenter discussed the different personality types, he wrote the words “introvert” and “extrovert” on the board, and then proceeded to draw a huge X over the word “introvert” and circled the term “extrovert.”
Palmater’s story goes to show that biases and stigmas still occur around the concept of introversion. Although Chung mentioned that author Susan Cain of Quiet was essentially a catalyst for the big movement introverts have joined to be recognized and heard, with the unrelenting power struggles for one personality type to be socially better than the other, the competitive nature has failed to bring the best out of people. As a result, introverts and extroverts are pushed even further away from each other, creating a larger gap on the personality spectrum. So, how can introverts work through these issues of social intolerance? Psych2Go shares with you 5 ways to explain your introversion to others:
1. Master your subject, but also master yourself, because your introversion is a part of who you are.
Do your research! Chung has written many articles about introversion, so speaking about it has become second nature to her when she does interviews about the subject to teach others about the knowledge she has gained. She states that she can speak about introversion with ease, because with the amount of time and effort she has spent learning about it, she feels prepared and well-equipped to talk about it openly —rather than feeling clueless and reluctant. A great place to start is by reading books and articles about introversion and highly sensitive people (which we at Psych2Go offer!) and becoming familiar with Myers-Briggs personality types.
But, it doesn’t stop at being book smart. True mastery is being able to take the information you’ve read about and applying it to your own introversion. When you explain introversion to others, you don’t want to sound like a walking encyclopedia. One effective way at getting people to understand where you’re coming from is helping them relate. Make the content come alive by using the research to back up the experiences you’ve come across in your life. It’s powerful when you can encourage someone to pause, reflect, and think, Wow. I didn’t know so much was going on inside of you. Which brings me to point #2:
2. Become an effective storyteller!
Personally, I love storytelling and often use this as a technique to shed light on important issues. You don’t have to be the next J.K. Rowling or Haruki Murakami, but what really helps make your stories stick to others is the authenticity you provide. You can tell stories about the struggles you experience being an introvert.
There’s no need to sugarcoat the details or worry about using fancy descriptions. Talk about the challenges that you’ve faced and how it has strengthened your passion or desire to do something about it. If you have trouble coming up with good stories to tell, some ideas you may have had experiences in include: how the school system still favors extroversion and how it hasn’t accommodated to your introverted needs, situations where you’ve felt pressured to pretend to be extroverted just to feel socially included, and certain negative dating experiences that happened because your partner wasn’t understanding towards your need for space and alone time.
3. Pick a familiar frame of reference.
It may be hard for others to understand what introversion is, especially if they’ve never experienced it themselves and can only take away what culture and media has projected about it —which can be incredibly misleading. One way to make the topic less foreign is by picking a frame of reference your audience is familiar with. If the person or people you’re talking to take a great interest in pop culture, sports, or traveling, you can use relevant metaphors and analogies that pertain to those subjects. For example, if your audience has a penchant for traveling, you can explain introversion as a constant case of wander lust —except that wander lust exists from within rather than something sought outwardly. You don’t have to be over-the-top with your metaphors. Sometimes, simple is the best and does the trick.
4. Practice open self-expression.
It might be daunting to express your thoughts and share them with the world. As an introvert myself, I understand the struggles with that. But, the best part about being bad at something is that you can always get better at it. To grow more comfortable with communicating your thoughts and feelings, you can practice self-expression in low-risk situations until you can gradually work up to high-risk ones.
For instance, a high-risk setting may be choosing to reveal your thoughts on stage in front of a large crowd. But, a low-risk setting involves telling someone you trust or are familiar with. Just remember that you don’t have to start big to make a big movement. Every movement begins with a small gesture or action.
5. Don’t talk at your audience —instead, talk with them.
You don’t have to turn your introversion talk into a lesson or lecture. Allow open communication to occur. Take turns and bounce ideas off of each other. If you don’t agree with what the other person conveys about introversion based on the findings, research, and personal experiences you’ve come across, don’t be afraid to ask them to elaborate to see where they are coming from. Then, share your own thoughts about why you may disagree with them. It can be a difficult conversation, but it’s an important one.
Sometimes, it might seem impossible to feel understood, but keeping quiet about introversion —especially since it’s something that you clearly care about (otherwise, you wouldn’t have made it to the end of this article) would be like denying a large part of who you are. Build the bridge anyway, despite the ignorant comments you may come across. You can’t force someone to cross it, but the art of persuasion can work in your favor if you learn how to master it effectively —and that starts at the heart of the matter, not against it.
How would you prefer to explain your introverted personality to others? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
Chung, M. (2017). How To Explain Your Introverted Personality to Others. Introvert Spring. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
Edited by Viveca Shearin