Burlington Psychologist's Guide To Introvert Power

Feb 17, 2014

The differences between introverts and extroverts can be pronounced, especially since the two personality types tend to be attracted to one another.

There’s good news for people on "team introvert", according to Burlington psychologist Dr. Arnie Kozak, the author of  The Everything Guide to the Introvert Edge, who says introverts can use their traits to their advantage.  

Dr. Kozak spoke with VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb.

“Introvert is one of the basic dimensions of personality. It defines how we relate to the world, so an introvert will be more inward looking, introspective and also have a different relationship to relationships. Extroverts tend to like activities and connecting to a lot of people, and have a lot going on. And for introverts, the same sort of commotion and lots of contacts with people might actually feel draining,” Kozak explained.  

The conventional wisdom may have once been that being an introvert would make life tougher in a world that seems to reward outspoken and aggressive people. But Kozak feels otherwise.

“I think introverts are no longer putting up with it. There’s a bit of a revolution going on, and people are saying, ‘hey there’s a lot of value in being soft-spoken and thoughtful and quieter.’ We don’t need to apologize for this and we have a lot to contribute. Now, at the same time, we also have to be mindful in taking care of ourselves because there’s that mismatch and there’s going to be a lot of energy going out and we need to take care of our energy and get a sufficient amount of quiet and solitude in our lives to have that balance,” Kozak said.

That balance also comes to play in relationships. Kozak pointed out in his book that opposites do attract, and the introvert/extrovert relationship is common. Parents and children with different personality types can also be challenging. People in those relationships need to work to balance each others needs.

“The first step is communication and making sure that the extrovert knows what the introvert is about, and that this is their personality, not just them being difficult. And that the introvert understands the extrovert likewise. You just have an appreciation for each other, and then there’s a negotiation process that has to take place,” Kozak said.

Kozak said introverts and extroverts can help stretch each other’s personalities in useful ways, but there has to be an openness to being stretched.

Kozak recommends mindfulness mediations to introverts to help them negotiate everyday life. He also said that introverts need to recognize that while it may sometimes seem that they’re alone, that’s not the case.

“It just happens to be cultural preference here in the states, but if you go to other places like Asia or Scandinavia, that style of behavior wouldn’t be as popular or recognized,” Kozak said.