67% of introverts I’ve surveyed believe that they are at a disadvantage in business as a result of being introverted. A causal factor is the negative perception of introverts that gets portrayed, which can in turn lead to people only thinking of the negative points. Some recent newspaper headlines make the point for me.
What would you assume of the following news headline?
“Theresa May inflexible, introverted and surly, biography claims”
Putting introverted into the middle of the other claims certainly sounds negative to me. Do you think that being introverted is often perceived in a negative way? In many business settings people conflate quiet with not being strong and both of these get called introvert. Introvert does not mean the same as shy (I know many shy extroverts), yet shy is often used as a negative label in the same sentence as introverts.
Introversion is poorly understood
Returning to the Guardian’s headline on 26/10/19; being introverted does not mean that you are surly or inflexible! As the article went on to say when discussing May’s campaign which “cruelly exposed her unusually inflexible and introverted character”
Apparently rather than talk to journalist she said ““This is not what I believe in, I want to be out campaigning.” I have nothing against journalists but not wishing to talk to them doesn’t make somebody introverted. In fact her desire to be out campaigning does not sound like an introverted statement.
“She was very quiet and seemed unhappy.” That’s one that many introverts get frustrated by, just because you’re quiet doesn’t mean you’re unhappy or there’s nothing wrong. Most introverts are quiet when, in their mind, they have nothing to add (as opposed to some people I know who just have to say something in a meeting even if it’s been said three times before).
Being an introvert has many positives
Maybe May is, or isn’t, an introvert; my point is that the reporting of this “fact” fuels the misunderstanding of what an introvert is.
“I’m the leader of the Conservative party, not a presidential candidate,” May said, according to the book. “I’m not comfortable. I don’t want it to be about me.”
I certainly know many introverts who would make a similar statement to the one above, when talking about their team or their business. I see those statements as positive, in a business setting it’s like sharing the praise for the department/ team/ business with the whole team, not one person who likes to hog the limelight.
Other introvert positive points will often include:
- good listeners
- think before they speak
- make quality friends (yes, introverts like socialising)
- thoughtful networkers (yes introverts are good networkers, here’s some tips on how)
- compassionate leaders (yes introverts can be leaders)
I call many of those introvert superpowers and think we should focus on these rather than erroneous negatives.
I would really appreciate three minutes of your time to understand your views of extroversion, introversion and how (if?) they affect performance in business.