1. Introverts Don’t Like to Be Social
This is probably the most pervasive myth about introverts out there. Introverts are often seen as lonesome and completely independent figures, whereas extroverts are portrayed as clingy and needy. The truth is, however, that all people benefit from and enjoy social interactions, and this has been proven time and time in psychological research.
Humans are a social species, after all, and being accepted as part of society feels great for both introverts and extroverts. The only difference between the two types is that generally speaking, introverts do require less social time than extroverts and tend to value the quality of interactions over the quantity, preferring face to face conversations rather than loud social gatherings. In other words, introverts recharge their energies by being alone or with a close someone, while extroverts recharge by engaging in social activities.
2. If You’re Shy, You Must Be an Introvert
Shyness and introversion are not the same things, and neither are confidence and extraversion. When a person is shy, they usually experience anxiety and discomfort in social situations. As a result, they might become more reclusive, whether they want it or not. Introverts, on the other hand, don’t shy away from social situations per se, they just like to recharge in a more calm and private atmosphere.
In fact, many introverts are very confident, just think about some famous introverts, such as Meryl Streep or Bill Gates. Both of these famous people are excellent communicators and love to be the center of attention, despite having an introverted nature. Conversely, many extroverts may feel shy in social situations they find uncomfortable, and acting that way certainly doesn’t make them introverts.
3. Only Extroverts Can Become Good Leaders
Leadership research from the past has been terribly misleading, with headlines announcing that one has to be an extrovert to become a leader just because 97% of the executives at the time self-reported to be extroverts. We now know that being a successful leader or speaker has almost nothing to do with where you are on the introversion-extraversion spectrum.
In fact, both personality types can succeed in both science, business, politics, art or entertainment. For one, one of the most successful businessmen of the era, Elon Musk, is an introvert, whereas one of the most famous popular scientists nowadays, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is an extrovert.
One interesting exception from this rule comes from a fascinating 2011 study, which examined how the extrovertedness and introvertedness of a leader influence the productivity of a predominantly extroverted or introverted group of employees. Fascinatingly, the study found that teams were more successful when the leader had the opposite personality.
Namely, introverted employees were more motivated and more productive when led by an extroverted leader, whereas an extroverted leader had better success supervising an introverted group of employees. This does make sense, in a way - Social employees want to socialize without the boss hanging around and introverted people may feel more comfortable with someone active taking charge.
4. Extroverts Are Bad Listeners
Since extroverts are very chatty and like to think out loud, some people assume that they must be bad listeners. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as, for the most part, extroverts want to hear your opinion, since that’s exactly how they learn and why they initiated a conversation with you to begin with.
Apart from that, extroverts are always ready to pick up the conversation to avoid awkward silences and pauses, which energizes the conversation. This is not to say that there are no extroverts that have bad listening skills because there certainly are such people, but that has more to do with their listening skills (for whatever reason) and less with being extroverted.
5. Introverts Are More Likely to Have Psychological Problems
Since introverts like to stay at home and relax by themselves so much, many people believe they must be depressed. However, most introverts don’t connect alone time with loneliness and feel perfectly fine curled up on the couch with a book for hours, while having to be in a social situation for too long can wear them out. As for extroverts, they report feeling sad, lonely and disconnected when they spend too much time alone in a quiet place.
Of course, this is not to say that introverts are somehow resilient to depression, or never get lonely, but you must understand that one doesn't simply get depressed because of their personality, as both a genetic predisposition, as well as many environmental factors contribute to the development of mental illness. Thus, being introverted is by no means a risk factor for depression or any other mental illness, it's just your personality. Some people stay away from other people because of their own reasons, such as being sick or traumatized, it does not mean they are necessarily introverted.