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Mon, June 17

Column: Intro- and extroverts

A number of you responded to my column on introversion in early October.

So, here's a sequel about the care and feeding of introverts, along with some of the major differences between introverts and extroverts.

If you are an extrovert you likely interact every day with an introvert and the chances are you are likely driving this person nuts. Introverts find extroverts very tiring. To an introvert, an hour or two with an extrovert is a wearing experience.

Extroverts assume that their company is always welcome. They have difficulty understanding why some people need to be alone. Most have little understanding of what it is like to be an introvert.

Introverts generally have to be dragged to parties and then need several days to recuperate. Extroverts jockey with one another to see who can be the life of the party.

Introverts are described as guarded, loners, self-contained, reserved, taciturn, private and narrow. Extroverts are seen as vibrant, warm, confident, empathic, outgoing, big-hearted. They are often called "people persons."

Introverts are not necessarily shy or withdrawn individuals. But they do need hours alone every day. They love quiet conversations about feelings or ideas but seem awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk. After being socially "on" for an hour or two, introverts need to turn off for several hours to recharge. To be alone with their thoughts is as restorative as sleep.

Extroverts are overrepresented in public life. They seem to come fully to life around other people. Few introverts rise to the top in politics. One exception was Calvin Coolidge, the Yogi Berra of politics. Remember his statement? "Don't you know that four-fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still." Then there's this one: "If you don't say anything, you

won't be called on to repeat it."

From a recent article in The Wall Street Journal "The Introverted Entrepreneur," a case is made that introverts have unique skills that make them valuable in the business world, like the ability to focus for long periods of time, a propensity for balanced and critical thinking, a knack for quietly empowering others. Successful introverted business leaders include Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.

Susan Cain, author of "Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" says that introverts succeed because they create and lead companies from a very focused place. "They steer clear of the cult of personality. Their emphasis is on creating something, not on themselves."

Introverts have this problem: they wait to speak until they have something to say. Not because they are shy, but because they are thinking and processing. In other words, introverts tend to think before talking; extroverts tend to think by talking.

The more extroverts in a meeting, the longer the meeting will last. Every introvert knows this for a fact. So the introverts will do whatever they can to a) avoid the gathering or b) become chairman so they can move the meeting along.

Contrary to what some extroverts believe, introverts can have good social skills. They are not necessarily morose or misanthropic. They love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests.

To an introvert "Hell is other people at breakfast." The motto of introverts is "I'm okay and you (extroverts) are okay in small doses." Their favorite response to talkative extroverts is to say, "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. Now please shush."

Finally, when you extroverts see an introvert lost in thought, don't say "What is the matter?" or "Are you all right?"

p.s.-Don't say anything else either!


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