8 awesome traits of the introvert

I wrote this post more than a year ago but have since added another strong trait of the introvert. 

When I ask my Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop attendees if they think I’m an introvert or extravert, they usually guess wrong. “But you’re so lively and loud,” they say.

What do they expect from me, Dawn of the Living Dead?

Many people don’t see the eight awesome traits introverts demonstrate. Here they are:

1. The ability to speak in public is the first of eight awesome traits the introverts demonstrate. Those of my attendees who guess wrong about my preference believe that to be an effective speaker, one must be an extravert.

They see my outward personality as an extraverted trait. I don’t blame them for guessing wrong, because society has been under the impression that showmanship belongs exclusively to the extraverts.

2. You want a sincere conversation? You’ll get it with introverts. Our thing is not more is better, as in the number of people with whom we speak. No, we prefer talking with fewer people and engaging in deeper conversation. You’ll know we’ll give you our undivided attention. It’s helpful if we’re interested in the topic.

3. We think before we speak. Dominating a meeting is not our style; we favor something akin to Parliamentary Procedure. That doesn’t mean we don’t have intelligent things to say; we just don’t like to compete with the extraverts who learn by talking.

The problem with our method of communicating is we might not get the opportunity to get our brilliant thoughts out in the open.

4. We rule when it comes to research. We learn best by researching topics on our own and, as such, prefer the computer over dialog. Extraverts learn best by throwing around ideas among their colleagues and friends. We find staff meetings unproductive unless there’s an agenda and some sense of order. Brainstorming is usually a waste of time to us.

5. We hear you the first time. We’re considered great listeners. But we don’t appreciate being talked at. We’re perceptive so you don’t need to stress your point with 10 minutes of nonstop talking. You don’t like caviar, you say. And you had a bad experience eating it when you were a child. Got it.

6. We love to write. Writing is our preferred mode of communication, but this doesn’t mean we’re incapable of talking. We just don’t have the capacity to talk from sunrise to sunset. Writing allows us to formulate our thoughts and express them eloquently. There’s no denying, however, that our workplace favors those who talk; so there are times when we put down the pen and let our voice be heard.

7. We’re just as creative as the next person. Our creative juices flow from solitude, not open spaces where people throw Nerf footballs, eat cookies, and attend wrap sessions until 10:00 pm. If you see us working intently in our offices or cubicles, we’re usually enjoying “moments,” so don’t break our concentration. Nothing personal; we’ll join you at the pool table when our work is completed.

8. We can stand being alone. We don’t need constant attention from others; rather we enjoy the time to think and reflect on life in general. Some might consider this as standoffish, but those are people who require a great deal of stimuli and don’t understand the beauty of Quiet (watch Susan Cain’s YouTube video). We develop long-lasting friendships with fewer people, as deeper is better than broader. Don’t pity us if you have 20 friends and we have only five. We’re good with that.


My MBTI workshop attendees are not far off the mark when they guess I’m an extravert; I do have the ability to put on the Robin Williams act, or revert to a serious Bill Belichick persona. I put 100% into teaching the finer points of the job search, and as a result my exit from the room is quick and toward the stairway to where I can retreat to my computer.

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40 thoughts on “8 awesome traits of the introvert

  1. Nancy Ancowitz

    Well put, Bob. That’s funny about a genre of self-help books for extraverts. You’re right that introverts are a little more than half the population. We’re just the quieter half. And now there’s a growing awareness about our needs, differences, and how we can co-exist and even thrive in this noisy world – as long as we get to take breaks!

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thank you, Nancy. You know the saying that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or something like that. Maybe that’s why extraverts get the attention. Hope you don’t mind that I mentioned you in my article. Your book motivates me to speak on behalf of all us introverts out there. And I hope people have the opportunity to read it.

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  2. Patricia Weber

    Bob, there’s a couple of underlying reasons for all the fuss: online social media and myths. With the internet giving an introvert time to think in a social environment, we’re now able to communicate socially without exhausting ourselves. It’s done on our schedule, when we want and we even get time to process before adding value to a conversation. So, we introverts get to be seen as social. That leads to we’re watching myths get dispelled: that introverts are shy (so are some extroverts), that introverts are anti-social (the operative word in online social media IS social) and several more. As a pioneering business coach for introverts (and reluctant marketers) I applaud you for focusing your blog post on the introvert strengths. In particular thank you for giving the more recent CAPT statistics about the diversity of the I/E in the population.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Patricia. I agree that online social media makes us appear more social. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Is that misleading? Is this the way communications is heading? If so, I don’t think the extraverts would like it.

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      1. Des Collier

        Interesting, and I agree with Patricia about the advantages of communicating on social media. Although a friend of mine was surprised to see me on Facebook. When I asked why, she said,”Because you were always such a reserved, private sort of person.” Nevertheless, I think some extraverts get a kick out of being able to blazon a running commentary on every minute of their day to the world;-)

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    2. Alistair Miller (@IntrovertAtWork)

      I go to a meet up group once a month for introverts in London, and asked people why they liked so use social media. One reply was that they have the time to consider what they are going to say and they can word it exactly how they want, when they are posting something online.

      You don’t get that time normally in social interactions, and introverts can sometimes struggle because they want to digest first before coming back with a response.

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  3. Patricia Weber

    Because the “myth” that we are anti-social exists, in my mind, appearing social (albeit we have our boundaries) will help shift the myth to more of the truth. Not sure what you mean with, is this the way communications is heading.

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  4. Things Career Related Post author

    For introverts, are we leaning more on electronic communications as opposed to personal discussions and interactions. I did business with a woman and we never once spoke on the phone; everything was done through e-mail. Huh? On the other hand, I did business with a man and he finally wrote to me, “Bob, pick up the phone for god’s sake.”

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  5. Patricia Weber

    In my experience, corrupt connections (that’s what I call them) are not a only a function of online social media, or introverts. We just notice it more now. Ever attended a networking event where you KNOW you handed out many cards and heard only from the aggressive, in-your-face-kind-of-salesperson after the event? And THAT is in an email? Nope; introverts can’t claim exclusivity to lack of follow-up with a telephone call, Skype or in-person visit. It’s almost everywhere, by almost everyone.

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  6. Michelle McArthur-Mo (@Jigsawatwork)

    I am an introvert and very proud of it. I have to say that many people do think of me as anti-social as at the end of the working day, all I want to do is have some quiet me time, to recharge my batteries. Picking up on the point about the telephone, in business I much prefer picking up the telephone, I do follow up my contacts with a telephone call. My colleague however who is an Extravert, prefers to email!

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thanks, Michelle.

      I, too, am more comfortable on the telephone and here’s what I think. Talking to someone in person doesn’t allow you an method of escape, whereas talking on the phone gives you an out: “Sorry, gotta go. My meeting’s in five minutes.” They can’t see your lying your ass off.

      E-mail is even more evasive. There’s no dialog and us introverts have plenty of time to think about what we want to write, which, of course, is the right thing.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thanks, Tanya.

      Both can have strengths mentioned, but it’s more difficult for extreme introverts to cross over and be comfortable. Their strengths, one would think, would lean toward written communications and individualistic work.

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  7. Dean Lampman

    On Twitter today: “Don’t think of #introversion as something that needs to be cured” @SusanCain #Toastmasters #PublicSpeaking #Leadership. Your resource list should include “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain. She received the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International at the TI Convention in Cincinnati, August 2013.

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  8. Jeff Mazza

    I am an introvert and enjoy being one. Since I’ve never been an extrovert I’ll never know what I’m missing. I now have a job where I am not in customer service and rarely have to interact with the general public. That’s the main reason why I like my job. I don’t really require anyone to entertain me, I can figure out how to entertain myself. I think as introverts we in a way have it easier as we rely less on others for our fulfillment and meaning.

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  9. Things Career Related Post author

    Sounds like a great work environment for you, Jeff. We may find it easy as introverts if we don’t require entertaining, but there comes a time when we have to interact with people, introverts and extraverts, and have to use our extraverted traits, e.g., small talk. I also enjoy being an introvert but am happy I can use my extraverted traits with relative ease.

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    1. Jeff Mazza

      Yes, I can also chit chat when I have to. If the conversation is inane or I can’t wrap my head around it, I don’t last long. People would not guess I was an introvert, I don’t believe, but I could be wrong. Since I lost my wife last year my introvert side is, I’m sure, much more pronounced. I hope you will check out my site and read some of my posts. I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

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  10. Alice

    Thank you for sharing. Well said. You have made great point, and I have been struggling to communicate this message for some time. I will be sharing your points with quite a few of my ‘extroverted’ colleagues who enjoy poking fun at my need to consider before contributing. I also find the comments about social media interesting, and a compelling argument I can add to my list of reasons for pursuing a second masters degree in Lifespan Communication and Digital Media.

    It makes sense to me….

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  11. Janine Greene

    Thank you for this succinct list of traits of the introvert. I too am outgoing and vocal and love to have fun, but can be accurately described as a learned extrovert. Many don’t understand this and it’s sometimes difficult to communicate that I’d much rather be alone. Often quiet and pensive during meetings, I take great notes and share my thoughts when I have the opportunity to think the options through.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Nope, you’re a true introvert with the ability to exercise your extraverted side when needed. I, like you, appreciate the alone time. At meetings, I realize the need to speak up, even when not called on; but I do think my thoughts out before speaking. We’re a lot alike.

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  12. Pingback: So, You’re an Introvert? Awesome! | R-Career Blog

  13. Pingback: 2 facts about how introverts communicate and network | Things Career Related

  14. Des Collier

    Wonderful. Thanks for putting it out there. Obviously it takes all kinds on a team to get things done. A wonderful description I heard once of an introvert in a seminar is: while everybody else is blundering on building a road through the jungle, the introvert is the one who climbs a tree and gently tries to point out that we’re in the wrong jungle.

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      I love this analogy, Des. Whether it’s a trait of the Thinker–who is generally more practical than the Feeler–or the Introvert, it seems to fall in line with the calm, reflective person who thinks before he/she acts. Then the group starts to listen to the introvert who is always listening and observing.

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  15. Patricia Edwards

    Let’s hear it for the Introverts. I’m sharing my fairly unusual experience with your readers; I was tested as introvert and totally agreed with that conclusion. I always recharged my batteries with down and alone time, speaking engagements and teaching wiped me out; however, once I discovered my passion of career coaching and emotional intelligence – wow – I am now an extravert. I love people and talking “all things career” with them. Wild, huh? :

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  16. Things Career Related Post author

    Hi Patricia. Some would argue that you’re still an introvert but have learned how to adapt to situations where your extraversion side comes out and that you are challenging your preference for introversion. Perhaps you tell yourself to deny the desire to go home and be with family or read a book, but because as a career coach and speaker, you’re supposed to go out after a hard day of work. But are you honest with your preference for introversion? If you took the MBTI and came out an extravert, was it because your work requires you have a preference for extraversion? Or are you an Ambivert? (Oops, don’t tell any MBTI purest I used this bad word.)

    I’d love to hear from you again. But please don’t expect me to respond after 9:00 pm. It’s my time to recharge my battery. 😉

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  17. talkndoc

    Bob, I appreciate your insight into how an individual can adapt to life’s situations and still be an introvert at the core. I love public speaking and can engage in a stimulating conversation with the rest of population, but small talk and crowds are not my forte. When I have to go to a work function or attend a party I do alright but what I look forward to the most is when its all over and I can curl up with my headphones or a good book. I think perhaps the deciding question is, “How does one rejuvenate? It takes a significant amount of energy for me to “mingle.”

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    1. Things Career Related Post author

      I know what you mean. My immediate reaction after a workshop is to find a place where I can rejuvenate until my next one, which is generally half an hour later. To mingle after work must be a matter of intense interest or a commitment; thus I don’t commit often to mingling opportunities.

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    1. Des Collier

      Indeed not, I think the whole thrust of this article and the effect it will have will be to debunk this perception that introversion is bad and extraversion is good or that the two attributes on the continuum are mutually exclusive. Obviously, as with everything, being in the extreme at either end of the scale could become pathological, but generally people vacillate between the two depending on a number of factors such as the context, and the other skills they possess.

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    1. Des Collier

      I would disagree with both of you. “Vert” comes from the Latin “vertere” meaning to turn. “Extra” means outwards or out from. So it is correctly “extravert”. There is only one recorded use of “extro” in English in the word “extrospective”. There is a subtle difference in meaning between “intro” and “intra”. “Intro” means towards or inwards while “intra” means within or already inside. So “introvert” would be correct. But, perhaps this would be better left to the Grammar Geeks next door…

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  18. Chandrika

    Perfect! And introverts are often misconstrued to be very snobbish and arrogant which isn’t true. Introverts are more productive their work as well. Talking wise when needed, is better than jabber jabber like a fool for the sake of it, all the time. We are the wiser lot, anyway!

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