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5 Hidden Strengths of Extroverts

We all know extroverts have the gift of gab and relish being the life of the party. But did you know that ...

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Extroverts think quickly

It’s not because they’re smarter or more clever than introverts; it’s because their brains are wired differently. For extroverts, stimuli (such as a new experience or an impromptu question from the boss) make a short hop through the areas in the middle of the brain that process taste, touch, and visual information. For introverts, the same stimuli must make a longer trip through the gray matter in the frontal lobe that’s responsible for memory, planning, and solving problems. Here are 6 hidden strengths of introverts.

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They’re great at networking

Utter the word “networking,” and introverts look for the nearest dark corner. But because extroverts crave the company of others, they thrive among potential contacts. In fact, the idea that some people feel best in groups is at the root of Carl Jung’s early study of personality types. As far back as 1921, decades before brain studies revealed biological differences between extroverts and introverts, Jung wrote “extroverted people are energized by social interactions, whereas those same engagements are energetically taxing for introverts.” Try these tricks for making small talk that expert minglers do naturally.

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Extroverts take risks

Extroverts live a life of risk and reward, thanks to their sensitivity to dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward systems. When neurologists peeked at the inner workings of extroverts’ brains while they were gambling and winning, they found a spike of dopamine in the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens, two areas of the brain stimulated by external stimuli. Embracing risk isn’t always a good thing, but it has its advantages, especially when it comes to your career path, writes Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group, an account planning company. “By not taking a risk, we run a bigger risk of being left behind.”

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Extroverts are happy

Generally speaking, that is. And they might be happier than introverts. In a study from Washington State University, researchers found that college students from the United States, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Venezuela who felt or acted more extroverted in daily situations were happier than those who were more subdued. “We are not the first to show that being more extroverted in daily behavior can lead to more positive moods. However, we are probably the first to extend this finding to a variety of cultures,” study author Timothy Church, PhD, a professor of counseling psychology and associate dean of research in the College of Education at Washington State University, said in a university news release.

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They’re adept at learning a second language

This skill is related to their identity as social butterflies and their tolerance for taking risks. In a study from VIT University in India, researchers conclude that “risk-takers, who are believed to be inherently extroverts, are more likely to take their existing language system to the limit,” and, in turn, excel at a second language, despite the possibility of being misunderstood.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest