Defining Extroversion: What Does It Mean To Be An Extrovert?

Updated July 8, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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Do you find it easy to approach strangers? Do you love being the center of attention? Do you find you enjoy life more when surrounded by others? If you've said yes to all of these questions, chances are you're an extrovert. While many people will describe themselves as either an 'extrovert' or an 'introvert,' most people fall somewhere in-between the two sides of the spectrum.

What is an extrovert?

An extrovert thrives in social situations - they are the life of the party, they find it easy to express themselves, and they often seek out social stimulation. Often an extrovert is very positive, cheerful and outgoing. They feel comfortable in big groups and aren't afraid to introduce themselves to new people. They find it easy to make friends and will hardly turn down an invite to a party or social gathering. Because of their outgoing nature, it may seem as though they are seeking attention or have a large ego. In reality, they simply thrive in social situations and are happiest when surrounded by lots of people. While extroverts may have a handful of close friends, they typically have a wide social network and are constantly trying to enlarge it.

As a whole, extroverts gain their energy from external sources, mainly social interactions.

What is an introvert?

On the other hand, introverts tend to keep to themselves, are more reserved, and are more likely to turn down an invitation to a social gathering. Introverts aren't necessarily shy or intimidated by social interactions; they simply need more time on their own. Instead of constantly needing stimulation from others, they are happiest when surrounded by their thoughts and feelings.

Introverts are quieter, more introspective, and often feel mentally or physically tired after a lot of social stimulation. While introverts tend to keep to themselves, they often have a small but close group of friends who they can be more outgoing around. These relationships are often much deeper than the relationships formed by the extroverts large group of friends. Introverts would rather get to know someone one-on-one than interacting with people in a group setting.

As a whole, introverts gain their energy from internal sources and often feel drained when faced with too much social stimulation.

Traits of an extrovert

While every extrovert is different, there are a handful of common traits to look out for. If you find that most of these traits on this list describe you, then you are likely an extrovert.

  • Cheerful demeanor
  • Talkative and sociable
  • Outgoing and bubbly
  • Not afraid of asserting themselves
  • Not afraid to approach strangers
  • Find it easy to express themselves
  • Enjoy being the center of attention
  • Friendly and warm - e., will give a hug instead of a handshake
  • Speaks their mind
  • Adaptable to any situation
  • Prefers doing to thinking

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Traits of an introvert

  • Often deep in thought
  • Can easily empathize with others
  • Doesn't seek out social stimulation
  • Often quiet and reserved in large groups
  • Thinks before speaking
  • Tends to be picky about those they spend time with
  • Find it difficult to express themselves or speak in front of an audience
  • Can be more open and social around people they know very well
  • Tend to observe rather than participate

What makes someone an extrovert?

Extroversion is a personality trait, and as such is a combination of both nature and nurture. It is important to note that extroversion may not remain the same over a person's entire lifetime. Those who were extremely extroverted as children may find that they are more of an introvert as an adult, and vice versa. As a human, we are constantly changing and growing and often will fluctuate on the spectrum depending on the particular situations we are faced with.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an extrovert?

Extroverts typically have a more positive outlook on life, don't dwell on negative feedback from others, and tend to be more adaptable to any situation. Because of their outgoing nature, they find it easy to make friends and typically advance quickly in their career. Since they can make friends with virtually anyone, they often have a larger support group if something goes wrong. And since they are constantly looking for new stimulation, they tend to be innovative and forward-thinkers.

On the other hand, extroverts tend to be more trusting of others, which may put them in sticky situations if faced with the wrong people. They are often seen as shallow, and they spread themselves so thin socially that they may not make any real deep connections with people. Because of their need for almost constant stimulation, extroverts may also be seen as needy or self-involved.

How can you become more extroverted?

Are you an introvert that wishes they could socialize more? Do you feel as though having the tendencies of an extrovert could help you be better at your job? If you've leaned towards introversion for most of your life, don't fret. While socializing may not be your forte, there are ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone and become more outgoing.

Dig deep - What is it that keeps you from fully expressing yourself? Why do you choose to stay in and read a book when all of your friends are going out to a party? It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with any of these tendencies. As mentioned before, introverts simply gain their energy from within themselves rather than from external sources. However, the first step to changing is understanding. Learn where your insecurities lie and try not to be too hard on yourself.

Use positive body language - If you're not confident enough to begin approaching people, let others approach you. If you're huddled up in a corner with a book, chances are no one is going to come over and try to start a conversation with you. However, making eye contact and smiling goes a long way. This gives off the impression that you are friendly and approachable.

Practice, practice practice - Try to visualize potential conversations you may have, especially if there's something important you need to bring up to someone. Rehearsing in front of a mirror can help you feel more confident, and you won't feel as unprepared when the real conversation happens. While you can't plan for every social interaction, you'll ever have, rehearsing some basic, yet interesting small talk topics can make your next social gathering a bit easier. While rehearsing, try to practice enunciating; introverts tend not to speak out as loudly or clearly as they can.

Get involved - Do you usually sit on the sidelines watching other people interact with each other? Now is the time to get involved! Take it slow, and only ease yourself in as much as you are comfortable with. If you often sit at the back of a classroom or meeting room, try sitting closer to the front. If you have a question, speak up. If you have an opinion, voice it! The more you begin to speak up the more you'll realize that you are your own worst critic - no one else is judging you. The next time you're out at a gathering, try introducing yourself to a couple of new people. The more you practice talking with others, the easier it will become.

Give yourself time to rest - If you're usually more introverted, trying to force yourself to be more extroverted can be extremely exhausting. Don't try to overdo it. Spend a night networking at a work event or socializing at a party, and then allow yourself the next day to read a good book or write in a journal. Wearing yourself out can be discouraging and dissuade you from continuing to move forward.

Extroversion (or introversion) doesn't define you

Everything seems to fit into a category these days. The truth is, it is hard to separate all humans into the boxes of 'extrovert' or 'introvert.' If that were the case, there would only be two types of people - those who love to socialize and those who don't! In reality, most of us fit somewhere in-between the two.

If you self-define as an extrovert, you may feel as though you are expected to make an appearance at every party or social gathering you are invited to. Even those who gain their energy from social interactions need a break every once in a while. Learn to listen to your body and its needs, and don't base your decisions on what you think you should want or need. Don't feel pressured into constantly being the life of the party or always being available whenever you're called upon.

Do you feel like you have trouble making friends? Are you often uncomfortable in social situations? Do you wish you were more extroverted, but can't seem to get past your social anxiety? Help is available. Contact one of the licensed therapists at BetterHelptoday and learn how to break out of your shell and have a healthier social life.

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