This one was long overdue – breaking stereotypes about introverts and extroverts in life and the workplace
This is the year to proudly proclaim that you’re an introvert, and we have Susan Cain to thank for that.
Cain, who describes herself as a “quiet revolutionary” on TED, is the author of the best-selling Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, which questions the premium the world places on gregariousness.
I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas. It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They’re valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.
As someone who sees no contradiction between being an introvert and being able to successfully work with people, this writer has often marvelled at the clichés that have come to characterize introversion ((For the record, I enjoy public speaking as much as curling up in a corner with a book on a Friday evening). So we are grateful to Wharton professor Adam Grant for debunking some of the most common myths associated with us quiet types in today’s Your Daily Read.
“Extraverts get energy from social interaction, whereas introverts get energy from privately reflecting on their thoughts and feelings.”
Grant informs us that “Introverts spend about the same amount of time with others as extraverts, and enjoy it just as much.” What sets introverts apart from extroverts is their need for peace and quiet after a prolonged session of social stimulation; an extrovert, on the other hand, is much more likely to continue seeking more society rather than less.
Introverts are less confident about public speaking
Err, no. A study reveals that 84% of public speaking anxiety is completely unrelated to introversion or extraversion. Based upon personal experience,we believe that extroverted Jo is just about as nervous about addressing large crowds as is introverted Jack. In the words of Malcolm Gladwell:
Speaking is not an act of extraversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.
Extraverts make better leaders
Some of the best managers and leaders we’ve had have been introverts. The willingness to listen and the ability to balance thought with action is now a well recognized recipe for success. Grant asserts that while extroverts are great for employees that require a lot of direction, introverts succeed better at managing teams with proactive, high performing employees.
Extroverts make better networkers and are more successful in sales roles
In her book, Cain makes a useful distinction between shyness and introversion:
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.
Grant reminds us that the world is full of shy extroverts, sociable introverts and ambiverts – people who are “quiet in some situations and loud in others, and alternate between seeking the spotlight and staying backstage”, which pretty much sounds like you or me.
So if you are someone who has often wondered at the insanity of group discussions and workshops where people are valued for voicing the first thought that comes to their mind – even if that thought is “Playing half of an hour of Candy Crush every day promotes greater team spirit and improves overall employee morale” – we suggest you grab a copy of Quiet. And if that sounds like too much work, do watch Cain’s 20 minute TED Talks video that busts many of the myths surrounding introverts.
Read the complete article here
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