Introvert or extrovert? Which camp would you put yourself in? Is it possible to pigeonhole the entire human race as simply being one or the other?
According to Carl Jung’s theory on personality types, none of us are completely extroverted or introverted, however we certainly connect to or feel most comfortable, in one of these worlds over the other.
In today’s society however, it seems introverts quite often end up getting a bad rap. Common misconceptions include being perceived (negatively) as shy, quiet, even lonely, or having limited social skills. While the traits of the extrovert, who is often regarded as ‘outspoken, charismatic, outgoing and fun’ tend to be favoured positively.
In fact, the original intent of the two attitudes refers more specifically to the way in which people prefer to be stimulated mentally, and not necessarily to the more general behavioural attributes we regularly associate with each.
Recognising that introversion and extraversion are regular variants of behaviour can help with self-acceptance and understanding of others. However, an introvert may find himself or herself thinking — “I’m an introvert, so I can’t do that”.
So how can we use the certainty of introversion as an advantage instead of a disadvantage? Well, in fact there are several ways of using your introverted traits to hold you in good stead, especially in the workplace:
- Being able to embrace solitude — more likely to access your innermost thoughts and creative ideas
- Quietly reflecting before speaking/contributing — coming up with solutions others may not have considered
- Not just another voice in the noise — more likely to be listened to when you do have something to say
- Being self reflective — particularly effective at recognising mistakes and making use of lessons learned
Tapping into the power of your introversion is good for you and for everyone else around you. However, just be careful of the counterbalance:
- You become withdrawn and people forget you’re there
- You don’t contribute ever
- You remove yourself completely
It’s about finding the right balance. In her famous Ted Talk, Susan Cain argues that the extraordinary talents and creativity of introverts should be more celebrated. “The key to maximising our talent is to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us. When it comes to creativity and leadership, we need introverts to do what they do best”.
How do you deal with introversion? Do extroverts have an easier life?
Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at email@example.com.