A lot of people have this misconception that introversion means shy. They often say that introverted people need to come out of their shell and socialise with others at parties. Well, take a look at this video. It’s called Body Language for Introverts. You’ll notice that I have the top comment at the moment (if you go to the YouTube page for the video). I love how one person goes on a rant about how North Americans are all extroverts, and that’s what makes North America so great and powerful. Too bad for him many major business leaders and actors are introverts.
The video gets off to a really bad start. It equates introversion to people who have social anxieties, always having trouble figuring out what to say, or a lack of confidence. Wrong!
I was once a shy person. Being shy means the above three things. I am not shy now. I’m still introverted, though. What introversion means is that you gain energy by doing more solitary activities, while being in a social situation drains us of energy. We need more solitary time to recharge our batteries, basically.
Let’s look at these three points Vanessa Van Edwards brings up. First, we have social anxieties. Not really, no. That’s what a shy person has. I have no problem being at a social gathering with many people around me. I just prefer to talk to people I know. I’m not nervous at all. If I’m sitting at the side being quiet, people immediately assume there’s a problem and ask me what’s wrong. Nothing’s wrong, I’m just observing. Think of it as information gathering. I’m also studying people’s behaviour, which is extremely useful when speaking to them. I use this information to adapt how I speak with them. Extroverts tend to speak to everyone the same way. Introverts learn to adapt to different people’s behaviour, and I feel we become better communicators in deep conversation.
Second, she says introverts have trouble figuring out what to say. Well, that hesitation that introverts have at the beginning of a conversation is usually something called “thinking.” We’d rather start off saying something that’s not inane or unimportant. We’d rather not do small talk, you see. It’s just talking about the same thing over and over again with different people. We’ve done that conversation, so let’s move on to an actual conversation, please. When we’re in a conversation that is actually about something of substance, we don’t shut up. Really! Take this example. When doing small talk, people will often bring up the weather. Last night, a typhoon passed by. In regular small talk, they might say, “Be careful tonight. There’s a typhoon coming.” “Oh, it’ll be so windy and rainy. You be careful, too.” It’s not really communicating any information that’s useful. There’s nothing being said other than acknowledging that they know the same information. But, put me into the equation, and I say, “Yes, it should be here around 6 pm this evening. The rain is supposed to be the heaviest around midnight, but not so bad. It actually won’t be a typhoon at that time. It’ll be a tropical depression.” That then goes into a rather detailed discussion on both sides about typhoons, hurricanes, tropical storms, etc. What would have normally been a rather meaningless exchange on something we already knew turned into an information exchange that was far more meaningful. That is how introverts like to talk. And we do talk a lot.
The third point is that she says we’re not confident. That is complete BS. Shy people are not confident by definition. Introverts are quite confident, especially my personality type, INTJ. We’re known for being straightforward and often a bit too blunt in what we say. We’re honest, we say what we think, and we’re confident about it. We just say it in a way that has a lot of thought behind it, rather than blurting out something that we might regret.
So, people, don’t confuse introversion with shyness. They are not the same thing. Vanessa Van Edwards does not know what an introvert is. Take this from a real introvert: we are not shy. Quiet, yes. Shy, not all of us.