As an introvert myself, I don’t necessarily seek being in the centre of attention. People have called me shy since kindergarten. I’ve been criticised for being the quiet one, who doesn’t like to speak in front of the class and prefers reading a book over ball games. Even after years in a corporate role, giving presentations and speaking publicly have not come naturally to me. Our social environment demands extroversion, and often being quiet is considered a weakness. It took me till my thirties to not only accept my introversion, but to embrace it as the powerful resource it is.
Unfortunately, introversion is often confused with being shy and insecure. Shyness is fear of social judgement, whereas intro/extroversion describes your tendency to respond to (social) stimulation. Introverts feel most comfortable and can perform at their best in calm, low-key environments (do those workplaces even exist?!). It’s assumed that introverts ‘hold back’, because we don’t believe in ourselves. It’s assumed we don’t have the answer, because we are not the first ones fighting for attention. And while we give way to others, we miss our own chance to shine.
As tragic as it sounds – it happens all the time. It needs a skilled leader to see the potential in the different personalities of their team. It’s not always the best speaker that has the best ideas.
If you are an introvert yourself, the following paragraph will serve as a reminder of the wonderful person you are. If you are an extrovert, I’m inviting you to take the opportunity to learn something about the other half of humanity…
Introverts like to socialize, however not always. We prefer to stay with the folks we know and trust. We’d choose a dinner with friends over a big party anytime. Although we might be quiet, our minds are on fire. We think about problems, work out solutions, hold internal debates, and believe in ourselves. We are just not vocalizing everything. We think before we speak, and we speak carefully.
Introversion is not a weakness, nor does it need to be cured or fixed. It’s a personality trait just like any other. And just like any other, it can become your greatest resource:
- Introverts are self-motivated and able to work independently
- Introverts are great in 1-2-1 communication
- Introverts can build strong and trusting relationships
- Introverts tend to have a high level of emotional intelligence and are empathetic
- Introverts reflect their own thoughts, feelings and actions and are able to take diligent decisions
- Introverts speak with intention and therefore, their words carry more weight
- Introvert leaders achieve better results
- and so much more….
So, be proud to be introvert! The world needs us!