Hey Readers! It is hard to live in an extrovert-dominated society but after reading this article you will get a different point of view to look at Introverts. SO, let’s start with a question… Are you an Introvert?
Are you an Introvert?
I have always found this question hard. I have always faced a dilemma in answering a simple Yes or NO. This is because people has some sort of pre-defined thinking for Introverts and this thinking will put you in the bucket of Introverts or Extroverts. And from the experience, I can say that you will never want to get in that bucket because there are less hope and fewer opportunities. I request you to read till the end and am sure you will learn a new way to look at people
Well, you might have experienced a similar situation, when a teacher in your school will have a slight favour for some students who speaks a-lot often in class. Who likes to show the world what’s inside their basket. And the vast majority of teachers’ reports believing that the ideal student is an extrovert as opposed to an introvert, even though introverts actually get better grades and are more knowledgeable, according to research.
Well, this is the truth, and in the process, Introverts are often left behind.
Now, to see the bias clearly, you need to understand what introversion is. It’s different from being shy. Shyness is about fear of social judgement. Introversion is more about, how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time — these things aren’t absolute — but a lot of the time. So the key then to maximising our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.
But here’s how the bias comes. Our institutions, our schools, and our workplace are designed for extroverts. These are made to increase the need of lot more stimulation in extroverts. On the top of that, I see a belief system among people that all the good ideas and work can come from group work. Group think is the way to achieve high performance and creativity.
Bias in Workplace
If you will look into our workplace, you will find that most of our workplace are now an open plan office without walls where you can hear noise and gaze of your co-workers all the time. And when it comes to leadership, Introverts are often passed over, even though they may be more capable and will think intelligently when it comes to handling the pressure. And interesting research by Adam Grant at the Wharton School has found that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do, because when they are managing proactive employees, they’re much more likely to let those employees run with their ideas, whereas an extrovert can, quite unwittingly, get so excited about things that they’re putting their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily then bubble up to the surface.
Introverts are great leaders as history tells us
Some of our transformative leaders in history have been introverts. I’ll give you some examples. Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi — all these people described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to. And this turns out to have a special power all its own, because people could feel that these leaders were at the helm not because they enjoyed directing others and not out of the pleasure of being looked at; they were there because they had no choice, because they were driven to do what they thought was right.
Now, when I look back at my life, I have always found people telling me to be more open, take stand, grab the spot light, participate in events etc… and in fact I did listen to them, not because they were right but because I always felt a need to change as I was being left out in the race. No doubt people love extroverts, they are fun-loving, they grab people attention and they always want to be in the spot light. Some of my good friends are extroverts and I really enjoy their company. I would like to say that we all fall at some point, of course at the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Even Carl Jung, the psychologist who first popularised these terms, said that there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. He said that such a man would be in a lunatic asylum if he existed at all. And some people fall smack in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, and we call these people ambiverts. And I often think that they have the best of all worlds. But many of us do recognise ourselves as one type or the other.
What am trying to convey here is that we need a better balance between these two. We need to look at these phases more as a Yin and Yang type situation. Both parts are equally essential in our development. The better balance we can find, more productive we will become. Studies have shown that people who are the most productive leaders are the people who shared their ideas a-lot but also had a streak of introversion in them. This is because solitude is a special ingredient in the recipe.
So, Darwin, he took long walks alone in the woods and emphatically turned down dinner-party invitations. Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss, he dreamed up many of his amazing creations in a lonely bell tower office that he had in the back of his house in La Jolla, California. And he was actually afraid to meet the young children who read his books for fear that they were expecting him this kind of jolly Santa Claus-like figure and would be disappointed with his more reserved persona. Steve Wozniak invented the first Apple computer sitting alone in his cubicle in Hewlett-Packard where he was working at the time. And he says that he would never have become such an expert in the first place had he not been too introverted to leave the house when he was growing up. Well, of-course, he found Steve Jobs who was the exact opposite of it and together they created the world’s most valuable company (apple) – it does mean that solitude matters.
What went wrong?
If we know this thing so clearly, then why our society is driven by extroverts…This is no surprise to me, though, if you look at the insights of contemporary psychology. It turns out that we can’t even be in a group of people without instinctively mirroring, mimicking their opinions. Even about seemingly personal and visceral things like who you’re attracted to, you will start aping the beliefs of the people around you without even realizing that that’s what you’re doing. And groups famously follow the opinions of the most dominant or charismatic person in the room, even though there’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas — I mean zero.
Now, if you know this then why are we doing it wrong? Why are we making our schools and institution this way? Well, one possible answer is that we are following the western culture. And if we look into the history of western culture we will find that western culture is in fact influenced by the idea that extroverts drive their society. Extroverts bring power to their empire as that era was the era of wars. Extroverts’ people tend to take the command more often than introverts and thus giving birth to a culture where extroverts were often thought of as the superiors.
Things that I want you to take from this article are-
- Number one: Stop the madness for constant group work. Just stop it.
- Number two: Go to the wilderness. Be like Buddha, have your own revelations. I’m not saying that we all have to now go off and build our own cabins in the woods and never talk to each other again, but I am saying that we could all stand to unplug and get inside our own heads a little more often.
- Number three: Take a good look at what’s inside your own suitcase and why you put it there. So extroverts, maybe your suitcases are also full of books. Or maybe they’re full of champagne glasses or skydiving equipment. Whatever it is, I hope you take these things out every chance you get and grace us with your energy and your joy. But introverts, you being you, you probably have the impulse to guard very carefully what’s inside your own suitcase. And that’s okay. But occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you will open up your suitcases for other people to see, because the world needs you and it needs the things you carry.
Now, to answer the first question of this article, Are you an Introvert?
My answer is – I’m an ambivert. I don’t fall in any one of the defined categories. I am the best of both worlds.
Do share, comment, like as much as you can and be proud of yourself.
And as always,
Be my aficionado 🙂
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