Do you hate crowds and small talk? Do you find it exhausting to be around people all the time — even if they are people you really like? That sounds a lot like me. In order to recharge my batteries I need lots of alone time. Contrary to popular opinion, an introvert is not someone who is anti-social or shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that aren’t over-stimulating.
Unlike extroverts, who are the life the party, introverts need a lot of quiet time and reflection. They crave time alone and are happiest in their own inner world of thought and feeling.
We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We live with a value system where the ideal is to be gregarious and comfortable in the spotlight.
It gets confusing, well it does for me. Sometimes I feel like the total extravert who wants all the attention focused on me, while others times I just want to watch and listen to what’s going on. So what am I – introvert or extrovert? Here’s a test to make that line less blurry.
Answer true or false for each of the following:
- I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
- I often prefer to express myself in writing.
- I enjoy solitude.
- I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status.
- I dislike small talk but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
- People tell me that I’m a good listener.
- I’m not a big risk taker.
- I enjoy work that allows me to dive in with few interruptions.
- People describe me as soft-spoken or mellow.
- I prefer not to show my work or discuss it with others until it is finished.
- I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale with only one or two close friends or family members.
- I dislike conflict.
- I do my best work alone.
- I tend to think before I speak.
- I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
- I often let calls go to voicemail.
- I’d prefer a weekend with nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
The more ‘true’ answers you have, the more introverted you are likely to be.
Introverted traits can be very useful. Things like listening well, preparing thoughtfully, forging one-on-one alliances behind the scenes, thinking deeply — all these qualities are highly effective.
At the office, extroverts might seem to come out on top in meetings — they’re never afraid to speak up — but research shows introverts make the best leaders. One study found that many of the best-performing companies of the 20th century were not run by flash, charismatic CEOs but quiet, focused introverts.
The reason? Introverts tend to be motivated not by ego or a desire for the spotlight but by dedication to their larger goal. They also let their employees run with their own ideas, as opposed to extroverts, who are dominant and want to put their stamp on everything. Introverts are also more cautious and deliberate — they tend to think things through more thoroughly, which means they can often make smarter decisions.
Perhaps surprisingly, introverts can make good networkers, too. While they hate working the room, their reluctance to make small talk means that introverts are more likely to strike up a genuine conversation with a potential contact. If you are an introvert who dreads work events, make it your goal to have just one good conversation and follow it up the next day.
Appreciate your own strengths. In a world that can’t stop talking, remember there are names for quiet people who are in their heads: – listeners and thinkers.
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