Does personality change? Can introverts become extroverts? This is a question that has been raised several times.
Charles realizes that he is introverted and knows how he can recharge when he feels drained.
What he likes best is simple. Going home after a tiring work day, nestling himself in his armchair, and digging into his book with a delicious cup of tea in hand. This activity always makes a wonderful impact on him, as he feels he can replenish his energy batteries with the retreat. This way he can ’relax’ people.
In recent months, however, Charles has had to attend several official events and conferences. He met some strangers, was introduced to new business partners, and was even invited to deliver lectures. Because of his attentive manner, he overcame these obstacles. Moreover, his boss received some positive feedback afterwards about Charles. All in all, Charles made a good impression on everyone, handled social events well and gained popularity. Heading home, nonetheless, he could hardly wait to take place in his beloved armchair and be immersed in his book, leaving the busy days behind. Has Charles’ personality changed because of the social occasions and of his achievements? Did he become extroverted?
Can introverts become extroverts?
People raise the question several times, whether introverts can become extroverts. That means whether personality can change fundamentally over time. If someone has been introverted since birth (such as Charles), is it possible that they will become extroverted under certain circumstances? The same question may arise from the other point of view: can an extrovert become an introvert?
The brief answer to this is no. Let’s get into it deeper and review the facts and why this may not happen.
We may repeatedly experience that although introverted people feel frequent social events exhausting, they can show extroverted behavior. On occasions like these, we wouldn’t even suspect them not enjoying themselves on the party. Remember those successful and charismatic lecturers, teachers, top executives and celebrities, surprisingly many of whom are introverted.
However, even though introverted people can show signs of extroverted behavior (being successful and popular company leaders, or shining as the limelight of the event), there is no complete transformation in personality. Can introverts become extroverts? Not really, indeed.
This is true the older the person is. According to several studies, primary traits of personality establish in early childhood. Around the age of 30, it already displays a fairly stable picture. If a school child completes his homework without being prompted, he will certainly become a conscientious individual. If, on the other hand, a kid is not happy to tidy up her room or closet, even if her mother asks her to do it often, it will probably be a headache for her to accept her boss’s requests as an adult. Luckily, we might achieve substantial improvement in precision and diligence. The question is rather how much effort and energy such behavior demands.
You can learn extroverted behavior
Many introverted people may discover that work places demanding rapid results value extroverted behavior. Those who are active in social life and maintain relationships may receive promotions or rewards on a better chance. Thus, when joining a company, they learn these forms of behavior over time. Though with some difficulty, people can adapt well to the desired extroverted-like expectations. They might enjoy these situations temporarily, but they really never feel relaxed in it. They can perfectly communicate, enjoy gatherings, even deliver a speech to a broader audience.
This could be like a situation when one has to run in a remarkably strong headwind: he succeeds, yet it is extremely strenuous. The basic traits of one’s nature do not change even if the introverted person takes part in many such situations, that is, if he or she regularly ’exercises’. The difficulty of these occasions is especially perceptible when one is tired, nervous, or worried.
Introversion (though being a pretty stable trait that is indicated by certain signs even in early childhood) is not stiff: it can adapt flexibly and assess what is the best tactic in a specific situation. Let’s check out some tips and tricks that may help you use extroverted behavior!
What can you do for a change?
If you feel like changing and aspire to be a little more ’extroverted’, try out the following techniques (for quick reference, please see an outline figure below):
Set specific goals! Do not be too general!
It is not tangible enough stating: ’from tomorrow I will enjoy the company more and meet more people’. Instead, come up with something more specific, more detailed, even broken down into small steps, e.g., ’I’m going to initiate a conversation with 3 strangers at next week’s office party.’; or: ’I’ll ask my co-worker tomorrow if he would have lunch with me.’
Don’t be afraid of being ridiculous or weird if you are more direct to others!
Most people overestimate how others think about them. Let’s just consider this: if, for example, a co-workerbehaves particularly weird in the office kitchen, you will notice or even smile, but in a few moments you’ll be thinking of your own business, such as that you need to do the shopping for dinner or that you require submitting an important report to your boss. Your colleague whom you invite to have lunch together won’t bother for long about why you haven’t had lunch with him so far and what might have triggered this new behavior of yours. He will probably like your idea and accept the invitation!
Pretend as if the social situation was a movie!
This approach can help a lot in making sure that extroverted behavior isn’t too difficult for you. You are the actor/actress right now and your role is to act according to the situation. If you consider a tough case to be only temporary, knowing that you don’t really have to change yourself, it is much easier to focus on the end of the event and you can ’act out’ more naturally. Did you know that there are a lot of famous actors who are introverted? Examples include Robert De Niro, Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford and Meryl Streep, too. Don’t overthink your role, just do it the way you want to see yourself!
Consequently, if this role of yours ends with success, a new process may start in which you see yourself differently. A little more positively, a little more confident and as a person who can control any situation, if needed. Even though your real personality is clear for you, fewer such thoughts come up like: ’I’ve always been introverted, I hate parties’. Instead, you will feel that you can get the most out of yourself under the specific circumstances, and it is you who decide what behavior or communication is most appropriate to use. This approach can also help you be more in charge and determined.
Be prepared in advance!
Find out some introductory sentences you will say to strangers at the party! For instance: ’I don’t think we have met before, can I ask what you do for a living?’. Be prepared for what you reply when someone asks you about your job or family. Remember mentioning common but useful topics such as weather, current public life:
’How do you bear this hot weather?’
’Have you heard that the official adult age is being extended to 19 years?’
Do not forget, if nothing comes to your mind, ask the other person about him/herself!
Look around and find those who are standing alone or lost!
You can easily mingle with them and who knows, you might come across some most interesting people on the party!
In conclusion, introverts do not become extroverts. As you have seen, despite his introverted personality type, Charles can also act as an excellent social person. He keeps applying the aforementioned tips, therefore he is successful and popular.
However, no matter how much he enjoys social events, or how extroverted he seems to behave, his personality will not transform and he will always long for the peace of his home after returning from parties.
And not to mention his book, which is already open and placed in his favorite armchair, waiting for him.
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