Introvert or Extrovert?

Do you know whether you are introvert or extrovert?

Most of us believe that an extrovert is a person who is friendly and outgoing. While that might be true, it is not the full meaning of extroversion.

In fact, if you are extrovert, you will be energised by being around other people and if you are an introverted you will be energised by being alone.

There’s a spectrum of introversion and extroversion.  It is helpful to know where you sit on that spectrum, but also to understand your colleagues preferences too, as this enables a better understanding of one another.  It’s possible to be an ambivert — a person who displays tendencies of both introverts and extroverts.

The Biology

There’s a bit in our brains called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It regulates response levels including wakefulness and the transition between sleeping and waking.  It keeps you safe from danger.

The RAS plays a role in controlling how much information we take in while awake. When confronted by potential threats in the environment, the RAS increases stimulation levels in order for us to be alert and ready to deal with the danger.

Each person has point in their brain where RAS stimulation or arousal kicks in. Some people have a high kick in point, while others have a much lower set point. Psychologist believe that introverts have high level where the RAS kicks in.

An Introvert’s naturally high brain stimulation levels mean they take in more information from the environment.  Because of this, they tend to seek activities in quiet places because they want to escape over-stimulation.


Escaping somewhere to have time alone to recharge, enables Introverts to process and reflect on what they have learned.

Sometimes Introverts have problems in the workplace because they are quiet individuals.  Whereas those with extroverted tendencies tend to speak up, have their say, make great team players and so on.

This results in them gaining more attention from executives or sometimes being promoted first.  This is especially true in open plan office based business environments, where introverts tend to escape into their own little world.

Just count the number of people wearing headphones to temper the noise in your office.  Without this, Introverts cannot concentrate.  Indeed, they become unproductive and unhappy.

Extroverts are whole different kettle of fish.  Learn more about managing introverts and extroverts in our Smart Leaders Programme smart leadership development package