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Being an Introvert


It’s alright to be in introvert in this noisy world we live in. Really, it is. The world around us extols the virtues everyday of those extroverted, creative, and charming leaders. But it’s also worth championing the introverted, creative and charming leaders. There are both kinds of people, I promise.

It begins with understanding introverts when compared to extroverts.  

Extraversion means “outward-turning” and introversion means “inward-turning”.  People who prefer extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their motivation tends to decline. To rebuild their energy, extraverts need breaks from time spent in reflection. Conversely, those who prefer introversion  expend  energy through action: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. To rebuild their energy, introverts need quiet time alone, away from activity.

The extravert’s flow is directed outward toward people and objects, and the introvert’s is directed inward toward concepts and ideas. Contrasting characteristics between extraverts and introverts include the following:

  • Extraverts are  action  oriented, while introverts are  thought  oriented.
  • Extraverts seek  breadth  of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek  depth  of knowledge and influence.
  • Extraverts often prefer more  frequent  interaction, while introverts prefer more  substantial  interaction.
  • Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with  people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time  alone.

Now, I basically copied-and-pasted this from the Wikipedia page, but did you take the time to see that bullet point at the bottom? That’s the key. Action vs. Thought, breadth of knowledge vs. depth of knowledge, frequent interaction vs. substantial interaction, and then the best comparison of all:

Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with  people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time  alone.

There are so many different kinds of introverts, but this last contrasts illustrates what all introverts have in common. We all need time alone to recharge. It’s just that simple. The amount of time alone may vary, and who we allow into our alone time may vary; but the time alone things…it never changes.

Do any of these definitions help you identify people in your own life? Who are they?



Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Sean Lenz · October 17, 2012

    Hans Eysenck
    (a personality psychologist) believed extroversion was psychological.

    increasing stimulation provokes
    increasing c.n.s. reactivity until an optimal point is reached, beyond which
    inhibition and decreasing reactivity set in

    So thinking
    about that; an introvert would either be better at processing stimulation,
    needs less stimulation, or a combination of both.

    So as an
    example an introvert would only need to talk to 5 people to have the optimal
    point set in instead of (an extrovert) needing to talk to 25 people

    There would
    be a natural withdraw or alone time after because of decreasing reactivity. Similar
    to eating, when you are full (optimal
    point is reached) you step away from the table to go do something else.

    personally like to think of myself (introvert as well) as a better processor. I
    know when I am in a small group I am actively thinking about what is said, body
    language of the speaker, interactions between others in the group, and the
    environment that I am in.

    • Jonathan Cliff · October 17, 2012

      I love this Sean, you are tracking with me 100%.

      What are some ways that you work to not ‘offend’ people that may expect you to be a little more extroverted?

  2. Matthew Hart · October 17, 2012

    At times being an extrovert burdens me because I don’t have “enough” people around me to make me feel energized. Collaboration is essential to my life.

    Realizing that deep introspective thought is a self improvement practice has giving me a healthy balance to not depend on people in an unhealthy manner.

    Great topic and insights Jonathan!

    • Starr Cliff · October 18, 2012

      I know what you mean Matthew! I’m always ready for the next party or for the current party to last another hour or four. We leave the party and my energy level plummets and Jonathan’s starts to go up. Good to realize what’s happening and respect each other’s differences!