What's All the Fuss Over Introverts?

This article was originally published here

By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer

There are many self-help books for introverts – Self-Promotion for Introverts, Ancowitz; Networking for People who Hate Networking, Zack; The Introverted Leader, Kahnweiler; to name a few. This appears a bit odd to me, because I never thought that introverts need that much help.

I’ve often wondered if the introvert’s companion, the extravert, has a need for self-help books. Through my hunt for extravert self-help books, I haven’t seen any on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble. Books that are exclusive to our talkative padre are not sold on Amazon.

I read a entry by a recruiter named Mark Bregman who (again) defends introverts. The premise of his article is that recruiters prefer extraverts. It’s a good entry, but he falsely states the majority of US citizens are extraverts—between 60%-75%. According to Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), 51% of US citizens are introverts. I only point this out because it isn’t an extravert world, as many believe.

Though I must confess, as an introvert, we are different; we have our strengths and challenges. Here are some introvert strengths:

We’re great actors. When I ask my workshop attendees if they think I’m an introvert or extravert, they usually guess wrong. “But you’re so lively and loud,” they say. What do they expect, Dawn of the Living Dead? I simply tell them I love what I do, but I need time afterward to recharge my batteries.

We think before we speak. Dominating a meeting is not our style; we favor something akin to Parliamentary Procedure. That doesn’t mean we don’t have intelligent things to say; we just don’t like to compete with the extraverts who learn by talking. The problem with our method of communicating is we might not get our brilliant thoughts out in the open.

We rule when it comes to research. We learn best by researching topics on our own and, as such, prefer the computer over dialog. Extraverts learn best by throwing around ideas among their colleagues and friends. We find staff meetings unproductive unless there’s an agenda and some sense of order. Brainstorming is usually a waste of time to us.

We hear you the first time. We’re considered great listeners. But we don’t appreciate being talked at. We’re perceptive so you don’t need to stress your point with 10 minutes of nonstop talking. So you don’t like caviar. And you had a bad experience eating it when you were a child. Got it.

We love to write. Writing is our preferred mode of communication, but this doesn’t mean we’re incapable of talking. We just don’t have the capacity to talk from sunrise to sunset. Writing allows us to formulate our thoughts and express them eloquently. There’s no denying, however, that our workplace favors those who talk; so there are times when we put down the pen and let our voice be heard.

We’re just as creative as the next person. Our creative juices flow from solitude, not open spaces where people throw Nerf footballs, eat cookies, and attend wrap sessions until 10:00 pm. If you see us working intently in our offices or cubicles, we’re usually enjoying “moments,” so don’t break our concentration. Nothing personal; we’ll join you at the pool table when our work is completed.

These are just some know facts of introverts. We’re not perfect by any means, but we have a lot to offer. I’m just not so sure we need all the attention we’re getting.

About the Author

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob’s blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.

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