I am an introvert. Now, this word carries with it a lot of misconceptions and cliches and sometimes even rejection. Fortunately, in the last few years some awareness has surfaced and now there are people trying to change all these views.
Before we go any further there are some points I would like to clarify. First, an introvert is not a shy person because an introvert is not afraid of social interactions he just relates to them differently from the way extroverts do. Another general opinion is that introverts don’t like to talk. That is not true, introverts do like to talk but when they have something to say. Don’t expect an introvert to make small talk, that is just torture. But they do enjoy talking and having deep and meaningful conversations. Despite popular belief they are not antisocial, they just socialize in a different way. Which brings me to politeness. Introverts are not rude. The rules of politeness are based on extrovert behavior so it is difficult for extroverts to follow them. And they certainly don’t feel superior or arrogant. If they don’t talk to you, it is simply because they have nothing to say. Finally, introverts don’t always want to be alone, they enjoy being with friends and family but they do need to spend some time by themselves.
I hope this clears up some of the most common misunderstandings but the problem doesn’t end here. We live in a world created for and by extroverts so it is sometimes difficult for introverts to interact in it. Most leaders are introverts, however, it has been proven that introverts make better leaders. Simply because the are better at managing people’s talents. They are better listeners and, therefore, capable of taking people’s input and then spending some time alone to weigh things up and come up with the best ideas. On the other hand, most artists, writers, scientists… are introverts. There is no denying that creativity is something that needs solitude and introverts are great at that. Then, why is it that we usually get the message that being an introvert is bad?
In schools, at work, in social gatherings of any kind people who don’t engage in meaningless conversations are regarded as rude and antisocial. People who prefer working autonomously are said to have no team spirit. If you prefer to spend your Friday evening home having dinner with two or three friends instead of out in a big party you are branded as boring. What some people don’t realize is that if instead of small talk with six different people you have a real talk with one you will probably feel more fullfilled. They don’t seem to understand that being capable of working on your own means you learn to deal with problems and solve them without help. And, finally, if you spend a quiet evening with a few friends you get a chance to really bond with them.
Now, I am not trying to say that team work is bad or going to a big party is not fun. All these things are good and should be encouraged in the right amount. What I am trying to say is that there are two sides to every coin and they both have advantages and disadvantages. However in a world where only 25% of the population are introverts it is easy to forget that there are some people who don’t feel or interact in the same way as the majority does. But introverts are part of the world and should have a right to relate to it in the way they know, not only because it is good for them, but because everybody else can benefit from it too.
If you are interested in the topic you should watch this video of Susan Cain’s talk for TED.