If you’re an introvert, it’s likely that you’ve been accused at some point in your life of being anti-social. You prefer working alone at school or on the job, and you’re selective about the people you let into your life, usually choosing to have only a few close friends. Although you may be anything but reserved when you feel comfortable with someone, you might be quiet and shy in groups. Yet it’s not that introverts are anti-social, it’s that we’re differently social. Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, in her book, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World, explains:
The social arena is where innie and outie differences show up in bold relief. Extroverts enjoy meeting and talking to lots of different people and generally have a wide range of friends. Innies like other people, but tend to gravitate toward smaller groups and one-on-one situations. The common assumption is that introverts aren’t social. Yet as we’ve seen, innies aren’t necessarily shy, withdrawn, or quiet—especially in comfortable, familiar environments. The confusion stems from the notion that there is just one way to be social. Take a look at how we usually regard socializing, which is through an extroverted lens. The criteria include: Is someone popular? Does he have lots of friends? Does he enjoy parties and seek out group activities?
How do introverts excel at socializing? By doing what comes naturally to them, which is using their up-close-and-personal intimacy skills:
If we take a glimpse through introverted optics, however, we get a different picture: Does your innie have one or two really close friends? Does he value long-term friendships? Does he enjoy one-on-one conversations on topics that matter to him? Does he care about others’ feelings? It becomes clear that the real story is that introverts and extroverts have opposing social skills and inclinations. Outies excel in the Western cultural ideals of being highly visible and out and about, and they are comfortable chatting with lots of people. Innies shine in the underrated and seemingly invisible up-close-and-personal intimacy skills.
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