Give and Take

The path from interdependence to success

5 Myths About Introverts and Extraverts at Work

Do extraverts outperform introverts in leadership, networking, or sales? Read More

Nailed it!

I can't say enough how much I appreciate this post. I'm going to share it with all of my college engineering students to give them a broader and more realistic idea of their own strengths and potential.

The problem

Is what we understand by introvert and extrovert. Literature has been calling "introverts" people who share certain stereotypical traits, while they call "extroverts" people who share "extroverted" traits. That is just plain wrong.

It is like calling "left handed" people who can write with the left hand. Although it is common and expected, it is wrong to divide based on traits.

Introverts are people who use energy to interact, extroverts get energy from interacting. As simple as that.

But based on definitions usually employed, people think that because they are quiet they are being introvert and then when they socialize they are extrovert. That example is given in QUIET. Again it is like a left handed person, says he is right handed when he opens the door with his right and then switches to be left handed when he writes something on paper.

One has to be able to differentiate between "how we express" introversion/extroversion and "what we are".

Initially I was going to

Initially I was going to argue the point on the first myth, but after considering, I think you're correct. I would far rather be one on one with another person than in an effing party, but it's the amount of stimulation that's the issue. All the phony smiles and boisterous one-upsmanship can't beat a conversation with an interesting person.

I'm also more comfortable speaking to the class than any of my classmates, but it's just because I'm older and have more experience than they do, not because I'm extroverted.

The sales myth doesn't surprise me at all. People do that "exclude the middle" mistake and don't consider that the middle is the largest and most flexible group.

This article also explains some of why I'm so disappointed with most of the "leaders" I've had; they're exactly as described; lots of flash up front, no substance or follow through, and I feel like I can't make a contribution because the prima donna in the spotlight won't shut up.

A few additional considerations

Great post! I am wondering however, how one reliably identifies an introvert vs. extravert (and now ambivert) and whether this process is truly valid. It seems that the categorization process should be examined more closely before interpreting studies that have matched subjects to group based on either self-report, or a questionnaire that attempts to address the multitude of factors that makes an individual who they are. It is great to be able to make comparisons between introversion and extraversion, but some consideration should be given to the possibility that categorizing individuals subjectively and expecting readers to categorize themselves, may not be very meaningful in actuality.


How can you be writing an atricle on "EXTR-O-VERTS" and "INTR-O-VERTS" if you cant spell Extrovert?

I wish I had your job.



If only you had bothered to

If only you had bothered to look things up before mouthing off, you might have avoided making an ass of yourself.


A person who cannot spell kar can be as good a carmechanic as one who can

What is your source for the

What is your source for the claim that Gladwell is an introvert?

Introvert and Extrovert study

I'm carrying out a study on introverts and extroverts for my dissertation. If anyone could fill in this questionnaire it would help me alot with my research. Question 32 is "which is not"

I don't agree with point 1

I personally disagree with point 1. I do enjoy social interaction but it does tire me. I never understood it, I would go to the pub with good friends, have a good time and come home with a splitting headache. In the summer my house is like Piccadilly Circus with so many people coming through, by week 3 I am desperate to be on my own... my extro husband is looking for the next weekend with lots of people.

As for the argument about over stimulation, I personally dislike one on one and prefer a group if I am with people I don't know very well. In a group I am not expected to interact, I can drift off and disengage, conserve my energy. In a one on one situation I have to interact, I have to listen and I have to respond, this is much more exhausting. Over stimulation could be caused by the person being an HSP (highly sensitive person) which is not the same and introverted.

Something I think is important to remember is that just because I am introverted it doesn't mean I am the same all the time. When I have energy I am different to when I am exhausted. i can party and chat away just fine if I have had a couple of days to myself, no-one would know I was innie. But if I have to party 3 weekends in a row I am a frazzled mess.

Everyone changes with their energy levels and you cannot judge a person, or a type of person based on one moment in time.

You put an extrovert in a log cabin, on their own, for a month and they will come back pretty depressed. This is the opposite scenario as putting an introvert in a busy place where they have to interact for a month, it depresses them.

Finally, on the spelling thing. I saw the edit at the end... surely though, if you know the spelling is wrong why follow the crowd of people who spell it wrong just because someone important did? It's like calling a village near me called Althorp "Althrop" just because the queen does. Strikes of a desire to not stand apart from the crowd... something Innies often do quite well ;0)

agree with your disagreement

I also disagree with point one, although I don't have anything scientific to back it up. Based only on my experience, I enjoy social interaction but only in manageable doses.

At the office, most of my peers have a high tolerance for all day meetings, the stimulation of brainstorming and sharing ideas, while I feel drained after two or three hours. It's the same during a typical workday where I see extroverts remain energized and engaged and I retreat to my office with the door closed to focus on individual projects.

So how do we know whether a person is an extrovert/introvert?

now, I really confuse what's the difference between extrovert and introvert in poin 1 ?

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Adam Grant, Ph.D., is a professor at Wharton and the author of Give and Take.


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