The introverts who walk the walk, but have no time for talk
What do the theory of evolution, Beethoven’s 9th symphony, the Mona Lisa, Harry Potter and Apple computers have in common? They are all the work of an introvert who spent thousands of hours alone honing their work to perfection. Some of the world’s most famous introverts include Bill Gates, Google founder Larry Page, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Anthony Hopkins and Steven Spielberg.Despite his charisma, Barack Obama is a classic introvert who has learned to “act” extroverted on the campaign trail. Many Asian countries prefer reserved people, but in the West being labelled “quiet” is not a compliment. The ideal personality here is fast-talking, fun-loving and risk-taking. Bad news for nearly 50 per cent of the population who are more introverted.
Where you fall on the introvert/ extrovert scale has an impact on pretty much every aspect of your life including, the partner you choose, the friends you meet and your career.
Extroverts get their energy from the outside world and love interacting with people. They are more likely to have a wide circle of friends, to place big bets on the stock market, to be hospitalised with an injury, to exercise and have affairs.
Introverts get energy from solitude and feel drained by too much socialising. It is not the same as shyness: introverts just prefer situations that aren’t overly stimulating. They like more “down time”, have a greater need for privacy and are less outspoken in groups.
The two personality types even arrange their work spaces differently. An extrovert is more likely to decorate their office and leave the door open to lure co-workers in for a chat, while introverts tend to keep their door closed to ward off interruptions.
Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, says we miss out when we ignore the strengths of introverts. “Some of our greatest ideas, art and inventions . . . came from quiet, cerebral people who knew how to tune into their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there.”
She describes growing up as a soft-spoken child in the US (the most extroverted country in the world) and being pushed to socialise on an endless round of play dates and boisterous summer camps. As she grew older, she noticed that parents often apologise for shyness in their child and that the volume of a person’s voice is sometimes more important than the quality of their work at the office. She came to the conclusion that introversion is a second-class personality trait in the West.
“Extroversion is a hugely appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform. If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one.”