In a networking meeting last week somebody said to me “why are there more introverts around now”, have you wondered that too?
Is introversion a new disease, or cool?
“Why are there more introverts around now” implies something has changed. She went on to say “it’s as if there is something causing more people to become introverted”. Being an introvert is not a disease that more people are catching!
Maybe more people talk about introverts than some years ago, making more people feel it’s OK to “come out” or even that it’s a cool thing to be introverted now? I’m not sure about the cool tag though.
Why isn’t it cool to be an introvert?
Actually, I think it’s great; there are good things about being an introvert.
BUT, many people assume introverts to be conceited, reserved, quiet, arrogant, shy, don’t like people, etc, because introverts find being with people tiring. These points are not true, but given these assumptions why would you want to pretend to be an introvert, even if it were “cool”? So, I don’t think people are suddenly wearing an introvert tag as a fashion.
What is an introvert?
Many people misunderstand what an introvert is (I’d love your views, please click here and take this survey). There is a spectrum between introvert and extrovert, you might be more, or less introverted (extroverted) than other people.
Introverts tend to:
- Become drained when they spend time with people, especially people they are not close to.
- Process their thoughts internally, rather than externally. That means they’re more likely to think about what they’re saying and hence take longer to answer in conversations.
Some implications of that could be:
- Introverts don’t tend to enjoy social chit chat and small talk (can feel awkward if you don’t answer quickly).
- Thinking through things more can mean introverts come up with more details.
- Introverts are often happy with their own company, not needing people around them to feel respected and energised.
Why are there more introverts around now?
Nobody has shown me any evidence that there is! Although it’s a subject that seems to get talked about more since Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” became popular.
As it gets talked about more, perhaps that means more people understand what an introvert is and how it explains their feelings.
Maybe the world is getting louder, busier and more nonstop (social media doesn’t help there). That may mean more people looking for ways to recover, which gets interpreted as introverted.
Introverts in business?
Modern business wants better results and more efficiency, making many leaders push harder. More understanding of introverts would help improve efficiency, teamwork and diverse thinking. But, many leaders are wasting talent in their firm by not thinking about things that affect introverts like:
- Noisy situations
- Open plan offices
- Expecting team members to all actively engage in team meetings
- Networking (when it’s assumed to be about big meetings)
- Telling people to go to conferences
Being an introvert is neither good nor bad.
Introvert, extrovert or being somewhere in the middle is not a good nor bad thing. It simply is. It means different preferences; different things will affect you, there are some situations you can feel more comfortable in.
Effective strategies to help performance.
An introvert can learn strategies to help her be more effective in different settings, just as an extrovert can. Although implementing those strategies doesn’t turn you into somebody different.
What we can all do (whether as leaders to help our team, or individuals to help those around us) is to understand and adjust the way we do things to suit our colleagues/ staff.
So, are there more introverts?
No, I don’t think there are more introverts around now. It’s good practice to understand yourself and the best way to work with your team and colleagues. That probably means telling your colleagues, more discussion about introverts and better understanding of each other. That can only be good for business and the people in the business.
I would really appreciate three minutes of your time to understand your views of extroversion, introversion and how (if?) they affect performance in business.