I’m not just an introvert. I’m also shy.
I used to think that they were the same thing. But they’re not.
I recorded a video to explain the difference.
For those of you who don’t like video, there’s a short summary below.
(Can’t see the video? Click here.)
Introversion and Extroversion
In a nutshell:
- Introverts spend energy in order to be social; they recharge by being alone.
- Extroverts receive energy from social situations; they recharge with other people.
- Introverts need to think before speaking; extroverts think by speaking
Introversion/extroversion isn’t an on/off black/white thing. It’s a continuum that runs between 2 extremes.
Introverts can have great social skills, be good conversationalists and be friendly with people.
Shyness/Social Anxiety/Fear of People
Worrying about what others might think. Lacking confidence. Feeling self-conscious. Nervous, panicky, palms sweating. Difficulty making eye contact.
This can be situational. Some people might feel no fear at all in attending a cocktail party, but might be nervous during a job interview.
And it’s also a continuum. From outright panic attacks to mild butterflies.
Both introverts AND extroverts can be shy.
Shyness tends to be associated with/confused with/lumped into the same category as introversion because the end result is that a person often chooses to spend time alone and to decline social opportunities. The difference is in the *reason* for this choice:
- For introverts, being around people requires energy.
- For shy people, being around people requires courage.
For people like me…who are both introverted AND shy…it’s a double whammy. To attend a social event, I first have to expend energy overcoming my nervousness. Then…once I arrive I am “rewarded” by having my energy drained even more.