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Thread: Shyness and Introversion: Are They Really the Same?

  1. Shyness and Introversion: Are They Really the Same?

    Shyness and Introversion: Are They Really the Same?
    By Jerry Kennard, HealthCentral
    April 4, 2017

    Over time I’ve noticed that many people will interchangeably use the terms “shyness” and “introversion,” as though they are one and the same. In this post I’ll explain why I don’t believe they are.

    A good place to start is by examining why the two get confused in the first place. Shy people and introverts tend to steer clear of socializing, but often for very different reasons. Shy people are typically anxious about creating a bad impression, or of exposing themselves to unwanted scrutiny. They probably want to make more friends and to be at ease in social situations, but they don’t know how or they are preoccupied about things going wrong.

    I’m an introvert, but I’ll qualify that by saying I’m not an extreme introvert. It’s more accurate to take account of the situation and the context I’m in. In my time I’ve been a health professional and an academic. I’ve regularly given talks to packed lecture theatres. I don’t find particular difficulty in social situations, although my tolerance threshold can be low. Given the choice, I’ll opt for my own company, or that of a close friend or relatives, over a party or social gathering.

    Like so many introverts I’m not shy about meeting people, but I draw my energy from time alone.
    This is a key difference between people who are introverts and those who aren’t. The psychologists Louis A. Schmidt and Arnold H. Buss describe introverts as “low on social approach and low on social avoidance.” In other words, social interactions aren’t exactly on our priority list, but neither are we afraid of them.

    When introversion and shyness works against us
    Introverts, on the whole, are a fairly self-contained bunch. Up to a point this is fine, but there are circumstances where it can work against us. In his blog post People Who Interview Well, Adrian Furnham, Ph.D., makes the point that serious-minded introverts can portray themselves as lacking in confidence, or being socially unskilled. These people really only blossom in one-on-one situations where they are given time. Otherwise, as Dr. Furnham writes, they can be disadvantaged and seriously misjudged.

    A shy or introverted classification doesn’t matter a great deal to the outside world. The fact that there may be some overlap between shyness and introversion is another fact that is easily brushed aside. But shy people and introverts need to be aware of the bias against them. People who are more outgoing tend to be regarded as more competent, likable, and intelligent than the quieter types. As an introvert or shy person you may disagree with this — but does your opinion even count?

    Overcoming barriers
    Be aware that whether you’re a calm introvert, anxiously shy, or indeed a shy introvert, you may be mistaken for being overly submissive. In competitive environments it’s important to adapt. This might take more effort and may feel uncomfortable, but it’s a price many of us consider worth paying. For example, I think it is. So, my main bit of advice is this:

    Behave with confidence.
    Often just behaving confidently will make you feel more confident. Practice your body language by not slouching, keeping your head up, and maintaining eye contact when speaking to people. And when you do have something to say — don’t mumble.

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  3. #2

    Re: Shyness and Introversion: Are They Really the Same?

    Be aware that whether you’re a calm introvert, anxiously shy, or indeed a shy introvert, you may be mistaken for being overly submissive.
    I don't think I am mistaken for being overly submissive,but I am mistaken for being snobby and snooty and have heard that quite a few times through the years.

    If I meet someone and they start talking to me,and if I think there's really no chance I will ever see them or talk to them again,like some random person at the store,in the waiting room at the doctors office,etc.,I have no problem being friendly and chatting.But if it's someone that may possibly end up being a part of my life in any way,like someone that's going to be in the same weekly group as I am,go to the same church,work together,etc.,it's extremely hard for me to talk to them.I have to gradually get to know them before I can even have a conversation with them.It takes quite awhile to let my guard down and then once I do I am completely comfortable and talk....alot.

    People mistake that for being snobby though,they don't understand that it just takes me awhile.I think I have missed out on alot of potential friendships because people don't stick around long enough for my guard to go down,they don't take the time to get to know me and for me to know them.I understand where they're coming from though,if I talked to someone and they only responded with one or two word replies,I would think they didn't want to talk to me too,I would probably think they're snobby too.But it hurts sometimes because I am definitely not a snob,but I have heard people say that I am.

    I do best in very small groups of people,I would much rather hang out in a back yard in front of a bonfire with a few close people than go out somewhere.And I don't mind being alone,not all the time,but I'm okay with it.
    You will never change anything that you are willing to tolerate ~Myles Munroe

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