As a self-proclaimed introvert, every book, article, meme, image and audio on the subject captures my attention. Being an introvert is part of how I perceive my environment, behave in it and process what goes on around me. It drives my day-to-day and long-term decisions. It’s how I function at work and mesh in social situations. It’s why I find solace in solitude.
In the corporate world, the omnipresence of all-things-diversity is an encouraging cultural shift for many reasons, but I have not seen the campaign adopt the introvert / extrovert dichotomy. In recruiting efforts, companies boast their open-floor design, team-building outings, karaoke and crazy-hat day. To me, that screams “only extroverts need apply.” People who prefer face-to-face and phone conversations simply do not understand that written communications help some people assimilate and convey information. As Susan Cain states in “Quiet,” “many of us work for organizations that insist we work in teams, in offices without walls, for supervisors who value ‘people skills’ above all.” It’s not a question of better or worse. It’s just different. Hopefully the diversity gurus will catch on someday.
What is most disturbing is what I call the delusional extrovert. This is an extrovert who thinks s/he is an introvert because s/he likes their occasional solitude. Introversion is so much more than that. Webster’s definition is, “an attitude in which one directs one’s interest to one’s own experiences and feelings rather than to external objects or other persons.” This sounds rather anti-social until you consider Cain’s perspective from Jung: “Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events.” When I wake up in the morning after a social event the night before, my head is swimming with thoughts of how it felt to be there, what was said, what wasn’t and my interpretation of that.
What captured my attention and propelled me to get on this soapbox today was a three-minute video on BBC Ideas, published January 15, by Sofja Umarik, entitled, “The quiet power of introverts.” I think it sends a powerful message. I stumbled across it on LinkedIn, posted by an executive who said he is an extrovert and found the video to be eye-opening. If you are interested in the subject for yourself or someone in your life, I think you may find it eye-opening too. The link is The quiet power of introverts (BBC Ideas)