I am an introvert. I admit it with pride. It takes work to be an introvert, but not as much work as it would take for me to be an extrovert. I can be extroverted, but I’ll be wiped out for the rest of the day.
CarlKingdom.com has a great post about the 10 Myths About Introverts that I recommend you read, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Extroverts need to get to know us, and introverts need to be reminded that we’re okay too. A few highlights:
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
I once worked at a company where I got in trouble for being an introvert. They wanted me to become an extrovert, essentially, which just isn’t my style. Fortunately for me I was able to fake it long enough to get them used to me and and how I work, and for me to make deep enough connections with my group that I felt more comfortable opening up and being myself.
Fortunately the company I work for now is more mature in that regard. It took me awhile here, too, but I’m now comfortable enough to crack jokes in front of my boss. To my knowledge no one has been concerned that I’m not talking enough. They seem to realize that I like to know what I’m talking about before I talk. I like to know “the rules” before I just dive in.
It’s rather funny, really. It was the big, Fortune 40 companywith a bunch of diversity programs in place that had the biggest problem with my being an introvert. It’s the smaller companies that seem to accept me as I am. I work for a bank currently. You know, those big, stodgy, last bastions of high-collared conformity. I’ve had very little trouble fitting in here. But that could be because they knew up front what they were getting, and they were mature enough to accept that. They haven’t tried to change me, but have largely trusted me to find my own way.
So relax, all you extroverts, and just understand where we introverts are coming from. We can and will get to all the places we need to be–we just don’t take the same road to get there.