Extrovert -Or Am I?
I wanted to learn more about introverts because I’m not one. See there? That’s my Predictive Index -an assessment granted by my work to analyze our different personality types and help us work better together. As you can see, I lean towards extrovert. Some other choice snippets from the full report:
Elise is an outgoing, extraverted, very friendly individual, a talkative, enthusiastic, and persuasive person.
Informed and uninhibited in behavior and expression, Elise has an active interest in people, understands them well and is capable of using that understanding to gain the friendship and cooperation of others.
Cheerful and upbeat, Elise makes friends or meets the public in a relaxed, casual manner, always “selling” in a general sense, and selling herself in particular.
Yup, that’s me. Classic extrovert -she who can walk into a room of people I don’t know and win over the crowd.
But lately, I haven’t felt very much like it. Lately it seems like a switch I can turn on if I want to, but I want to less and less. Mostly I want to be by myself and read or do yard work rather than dazzle the masses.
Even before getting the personality test at work, I’ve been prying free of my extrovert tendencies. With all that embroiled confidence and sway, extroverts are bold, reckless, headless of authority and risk, and can be shortsighted bullies. I know and recognize all of these traits in myself and finally acquired enough life experience to know rushing in headlong isn’t the best decision.
And so with my encroaching hermithood and personality swap, I decided to study introverts. Not like I hadn’t been already, but really with a focus. What better place to start than “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Sue Cain.
Beginning with an anecdote about the moment she learned her perceived “weakness” was indeed a strength, Cain walks us through the whole charade. How America came to be the cult of the extrovert, how much of our behavior is written in our genes, and how we can leverage the power of introverts. When and why did we become obsessed with enthusiasm and charisma over careful thought? Do we actually reap significant benefits from all these quick-witted ringmasters? Or does the focus on delivery overshadow the logical truths of the matter?
Her personal alignment as an introvert betrays her as much of the book is focused on when to behave like an extroverts and extracting yourself from the extrovert ideal. Perhaps it’s only that Sue realizes American culture is unlikely to change any time soon, and the sad truth of the matter, for now, is that introverts will overwhelming have to adjust to the extroverts world than vice versa.
If you’re an introvert, I recommend the book to help you find your strength. If you’re an extrovert, I recommend it to reinforce that sometimes you should shut up and let the quiet person talk. I can’t say I learned much beyond what I’ve already obsessed over, but the journey through Sue’s many examples and her commentary of the studies makes it a worthy addition to your mental library.
Alas, she didn’t answer my question. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old and tired. Maybe I find people too dramatic or nonsensical. Maybe I’m a little disgusted with the world that chose an overly confident, loudmouthed bigot and want to distance myself. Whatever the reason, I still know who I am at heart. I’m just getting a little better at toning that down to quietly sit and think sometimes.
I’ll leave you with her opening quote, a resolution that it takes us all.
“A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy’s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight…”