What is introversion and extraversion all about? And, more importantly, how can it help you? Here are tips to get to the root of these popular buzzwords and some actionable advice on leveraging your type.

Defining introversion and extraversion.

First, let’s ditch the misconception that extraverts are social butterflies and introverts are wallflowers. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist who coined these terms, knows best, and defines them in terms of stimulation --

The key to finding your style and creating your optimal flow - is understanding where you gain the most energy.

Introverts gain energy from their inner world, which is made of ideas, emotions, and memories. They feel truly alive when reading, writing, thinking, and researching. A third to half of the workforce is introverted, whether they appear that way or not.

Extraverts are energized by the outer world, which is made of people, experience, and activity. They are enlivened when engaging externally and taking action.

Bottom line, introversion and extraversion are about the energy you gain from stimulation in either your inner or outer world.

Self-assess your type.

You might be wondering, “I like spending time in both worlds. How do I know which one I prefer?” Truth. We all alternate between the inner and outer world, back and forth, each day.

The key to finding your style and creating your optimal flow - is understanding where you gain the most energy.

If you’re still unsure, consider logging activities that serve as particularly energizing or draining for seven days. (You may see a pattern that certain job responsibilities or people in your life are draining. That’s valuable information, but for a separate post.)

"The key to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in a zone of stimulation that is right for us." - Susan Cain

Tune in to activities that take you from a baseline level of energy to pure invigoration, and note whether they fall in your inner or outer world. Commit to paying close attention for the full period, and you’ll find more focus and energy in one of these worlds over the other.

Now that you have a sense of where you gain energy from, leverage it!

Introverts: advocate for your inner world.

introvert

Let others know you’ll revert after you reflect on an idea.

Whether your boss wants to brainstorm ideas in real-time or an intern asks for on-the-spot feedback, give yourself space to reflect by letting them know you’ll get back to them later.

Designate private spaces and times where you can escape to collect your thoughts.

Find the secret conference room that no one ever uses. Wear noise-cancelling headphones. Block off nights for yourself or for some one-on-one time with a friend or partner at home. Allow yourself to dive into your inner world without interruptions.

Opt to communicate in writing.

It’s OK if meetings aren’t your jam for selling your big ideas. Capture peak clarity and energy from your inner world by writing memos or emails, even if the situation doesn’t necessarily call for it. Use writing as a support tool when you present your thoughts to others.

Extraverts: create opportunities in the outer world.

extravert

Take conversations offline.

When your email exchange with a coworker feels endless, embrace the urge to pick up the phone or chat in person. The answer may lie in a quick chat in the office or coffee run, and you’ll be energized by the interaction.

Work out ideas by talking them through.

Identify a like-minded confidant to regularly generate and bounce around ideas. You’ll go further faster with this approach.

Position yourself to interact and engage with others.

Take your weekend work to a bustling cafe instead of an empty office. Get off the treadmill and into a running club. Find opportunities to physically put yourself in more stimulating environments.

It is also important to note that knowing your communication and energy style is not about putting yourself in a box. Plenty of folks recognize themselves as largely belonging to one end of the spectrum or the other, and over time develop the comfort and fluency to step out of their characteristic mode.

Communication and energy style is not about putting yourself in a box.

As Susan Cain said in one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, “the key to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in a zone of stimulation that is right for us.” Whether you consider yourself more of an introvert or extravert, actively identify and seek out situations that play to your type.

READ NEXT: 5 Productivity Hacks to Get Your 'Me-Time' Back

energy, happiness, introvert, extravert, susan cain
Author: Hana Ayoub

Hana Ayoub is a professional development coach for high achievers who want to align their priorities in pursuit of dynamic success. Committed to optimizing the way professionals work and thrive, Hana leads a customized process that uncovers what's next, why, and how to get there.