This summer I was a motivational speaker for a group of teachers in Vancouver, BC.
During one of the break out session I attended, a guest speaker led a discussion on how introverted teachers can sucessfully do very extroverted work ( teaching).
The guest speakers motivational speech painted analogies that in the world today, extroverts shine and stand out, while introverts struggle to simply maintain the status quo.
I am an extrovert and I also know some very successful, sometimes outspoken introverts. Is it possible that for them to reach this level of success, they have had to reach deep into their extroverted side to find success?
Studies indicate that well over 60% of people are introverts. The basic difference between introvert and extrovert is that introverts get energy from being alone, through self reflection and withdrawl, while extroverts thrive on stimulus from the external environment.
Does Society and our Workplaces Benefit Extroverts?
I think that often introverts may feel guilty for wanting to be alone. At a party or a business meeting or event, being quiet, aloof or unassumbing in the corner draws glares and concern..., What's wrong? Are you ok? Why are you in a bad mood? When you are not talking and interacting people assumb something is wrong.
It is hard to contribute and have your ideas heard if you don't speak up and share them. A memo or report is much less impactful than a motivational speech that compels people to get behind your ideas.
Our schools, workplaces, and churchs often strongly benefit extroverts and there need for lots of external stimulation.
In classrooms, group work is very commonplace. Many workplaces are designed as cubicles or open plan offices subject to interaction. At conferences and events, social interaction is deeply embedded in the experience.
Any customer service role would tend to see an extrovert shine, while an introvert may prefer to withdraw from the intense social stimulation ( ie- sorting out conflict).
Extroverts know how to ask for help from others and will naturally gravitate towards social networks and support while introverts may withdraw.
Introverts are made for contemplation, not action. Unfortunatley today the world values action, speed and immediate results.
All of this paints a rather bleak picture for an introvert struggling to find sanity in an extroverted world.
The Value of Introverts at Work
Yet, some of the hardest working, creative, dedicated people are introverts( ghandi, eleanor roosevelt, Einstein, Bill Gates). Many introverts have thrived in the world and that may be because they had the courage to push there ideas forward.
Miss popular may spend her time trying to impress people, meanwhile the introvert keeps his head down, does his job and gets promoted.
Maybe what we should be doing is questioning the validity of an extrovert run world? After all, before intense technology and our drive for results came along, solitary work ruled the day. Meetings, technology and constant contact are great but can distract you from getting the real creative, thoughtful work accomplished.
An introvert run workplace would likely feature more contemplation before action, more research and careful consideration, increased innovation, people who think before they speak so less conflict would result, and leadership would think through their strategies before implementation.
The guest speaker related that solitude and quiet time is where deep thought stems from. To unplug and get inside your head and heart may be just what the extroverts of the world need- to create balance and refect on their thoughts before speaking up.
When it comes to leadership and creativity we need introverts to do what they do best.I enjoyed being a motivational speaker for the teachers conference, throughout the motivational speech, I was interacting with the audience, visibly trying to pick people out wondering... are they an extrovert or an introvert?