Strengths of an Introvert
Do introverts or an extroverts experience more happiness? Due to societal pressures and norms, many would assume that extroverts experience a higher quality of life.
In fact, studies from 2008 indicate that extroverts (those who are outgoing, overtly expressive, and social) experienced higher levels of overall happiness when compared to their introverted counterparts.
Furthermore, the majority of CEOs identify as extroverts and many people find extroverts more physically attractive.
However, when it comes to actual performance at work and the quality of intimate friendships, introverts may have the upper hand.
Plus, more recent studies have indicated that not only do introverts possess many strengths that garner them an enjoyable life, but self-acceptance and the ability to to behave as one wishes are greater indications on one’s overall level of happiness.
Whether you are introverted, extroverted, or an ambivert (a combination of extroverted and introverted characteristics), don’t forget that introverts come with their own set of unique strengths.
Biggest Misconception of Introverts
“Introversion is your way, social anxiety is in your way.”Irene Hernandez, introversion researcher
Perhaps the largest misconception about introverts is that they are scared of being around people. Some even assume that all introverts are living with social anxiety and experience anxiety differently than those who are extroverted.
This is not the case.
While introverts may be more prone to anxiety (due to their tendency to be higher in the trait neuroticism), the symptoms of anxiety (apprehension, avoidance, racing heart, dizziness, etc.) can occur in all sufferers, regardless if they are introverts, extroverts, or ambiverts.
What Is Neuroticism?
Neuroticism is one of the five core traits psychological researches often use when it comes to personality.
The “Big 5” Traits are:
1. Openness to experience
As with the other four traits, neuroticism exists on a spectrum and refers to someone who is more likely to show feelings of anxiety, anger, fear, jealousy, and loneliness.
For introverts struggling with anxiety and depression, the original MedCircle series, “The Introvert’s Guide to Conquering Depression and Anxiety” is a must-watch. It features clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula and recent research on introversion.
3 Strengths of an Introvert
Research has indicated many strengths unique to those who are introverted.
Strength #1: Work Ethic
While extroverts often find social gatherings and large events reinforcing, introverts are content to be with themselves. This allows them to focus on, and indulge in, a variety of tasks.
Introverts are effective workers. For one-person tasks that require focus, an introvert may be best suited. For example, writers are often introverted and find the solitude comforting as they write.
Introverts are accomplished students. While studying and coursework can be daunting for some, introverts often find the labor of school to be enjoyable. They are content with their books, some coffee, and a quiet corner of the library.
For college students who are struggling with anxiety and/or depression, the MedCircle original series, “Depression and Anxiety in College Students” is a wonderful guide for both students and supporters, such as parents. This series features triple-board certified clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. Judy Ho.
Introverts are incredibly creative.From musicians to painters, introverts often find themselves in creative spaces. Creating art is frequently a solo experience and this suits the introvert just fine.
Strength #2: Leadership Ability
Typically, leaders are portrayed as verbose, social, extroverted individuals. While this certainly represents many leaders, the introverted leader is often the more successful type.
Introverts are able to connect one-on-one in a very meaningful way. This connection gives them tremendous insight and allows them to lead thoughtfully and intentionally. There are many famous introverted leaders. Some of them include:
- Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft
- Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon
- Elon Musk, Founder & CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
- Sergey Brin, Co-Founder of Google
- Marissa Mayer, Former CEO of Yahoo!
- Warren Buffett, President & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
- Peter Thiel, Co-founder of PayPal
- Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder of Apple
- Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder of Facebook
In this study, researchers found that pizza franchises with introverted leaders were 20% more profitable.
Although introverts can clearly do well in leadership roles, our culture consistently places extroverts in leadership positions. This is likely due to the misconceptions around both extroverts and introverts.
Strength #3: Meaningful Friendship
Introverts can be wonderful friends – especially in friendships where depth and meaningful connection are important. For many, this strength of an introvert is the most coveted.
Typically, extroverts will have far more friends than introverts. However, introverts will often develop closer and more meaningful relationships.
These deeply connected relationships showcase how introverts value intimate interactions with other people- very different than what type of interactions extroverts value.
Introverts are wonderful listeners.
Void of the need for attention and the social spotlight, introverts make compassionate listeners. Their ability to intently listen to those they care about causes others to covet their introverted friends.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists are often introverts.
Introverts Have Low Reward Sensitivity
Having low reward sensitivity means you do not require a lot of “activity” or “stimulation” in order to feel fulfilled. For example, an introvert with low reward sensitivity may find enjoyment with simply a good book and a cozy blanket. On the other hand, an extrovert with high reward sensitivity may require the excitement of a Las Vegas getaway.
There are exceptions, of course.
This isn’t to say that extroverts never enjoy alone time and that introverts never enjoy a weekend in Las Vegas.
Both introversion and extroversion exists on a spectrum and these personality traits are just part of what makes up an individual.
In the middle of that spectrum, there is a third category, referred to as ambiverts.
What Is an Ambivert?
Ambiverts exhibit both introverted and extroverted traits and carry their own unique strengths. Some may refer to ambiverts using the slang term “omnivert.”
Psychiatrist Carl Jung made extroversion and introversion popular in the 1920s. It wasn’t until the 1940s that psychologists and psychiatrists started using the term ambivert.
The director of the Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, Barry Smith, says, “Ambiverts make up 68% of the population.”