I believe — feel free to disagree — we’re born one way or the other (introvert or extrovert) and our basic makeup doesn’t change much over the years.
The Difference between Extroverts and Introverts
Here is how I think of extroverts and introverts.
Extroverts are generally outward-facing. Their attention, interest, and energy are engaged — primarily — in and by the exterior world: the stuff that is “out there,” people, things, activities. They enjoy interacting with people, sometimes large numbers of people, and they get a charge out of doing so.
Extroverts tend to think out loud. It’s not that they think before they speak. They speak while they are thinking. What you hear isn’t necessarily their final thought on the matter at hand; it’s their thought process. Ask extroverts for their opinion, and they’re likely to open their mouths and begin speaking.
Introverts are, for the most part, inward-facing.Their attention, interest, and energy are engaged in and by their inner world: their thoughts, fantasies, and feelings. They prefer interacting with a few people at a time and especially with people they already know and trust. They recharge by seeking alone time.
Introverts tend to think before they talk. When you as their opinion, they don’t say anything. Not, at least, until they’ve had time to think it over.
Extroverts tend to think that introverts are slow or, at worst, stupid. They must not know anything, because they’re not saying anything.
Introverts tend to think that extroverts are glib and fickle. They talk all the time, and they say one thing at one time and something else at a later time.
(The world of work is organized in favor of extroverts. The way business conduct meetings, brain storming sessions, and presentations plays to the strength of extroverts, people who speak confidently and quickly in group settings. But that’s another issue.)