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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Default The Upside of Being an Introvert

    The Upside of Being an Introvert
    (and why extroverts are overrated)
    By Brian Walsh
    February 6, 2012
    TIME

    Excerpt:
    We're not that alone, even if it sometimes feels that way. By some estimates, 30% of all people fall on the introvert end of the temperament spectrum--but it takes some explaining to understand just what that label means. For one thing, introverted does not have to mean shy, though there is overlap. Shyness is a form of anxiety characterized by inhibited behavior. It also implies a fear of social judgment that can be crippling. Shy people actively seek to avoid social situations, even ones they might want to take part in, because they may be inhibited by fear. Introverts shun social situations because, Greta Garbo--style, they simply want to be alone.

    "Introverted people aren't bothered by social situations," says Louis Schmidt, director of the Child Emotion Laboratory at McMaster University in Ontatio. "They just prefer not to engage." While extroverts draw energy from mingling with large groups of people--picture former President and extrovert in chief Bill Clinton joyously working a rope line--introverts find such social interactions taxing.

    Simply being an introvert can also feel taxing--especially in America, land of the loud and home of the talkative. From classrooms built around group learning to pen-plan offices that encourage endless meetings, it sometimes seems that the quality of your work has less value than the volume of your voice.

    And as if the world weren't slanted enough toward the extrovert, study after study has made sociability seem like a prerequisite for good health, right along with low cholesterol and frequent exercise. Very shy and introverted people have been shown to succumb more rapidly to diseases like HIV and to be at greater risk for depression than their extroverted counterparts. In schools, its the bolder kids who get attention from teachers, while quiet children can too easily languish in the back of the classroom. "Our culture expects people to be outgoing and sociable," says Christopher Lane, an English professor at Northwestern University and the author Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness. "Its the unstated norm, and against that norm introverts stand out as seemingly problematic."

    But that unstated norm discounts the hidden benefits of the introverted temperament--for workplaces, personal relationships and society as a whole. Introverts may be able to fit all their friends in a phone booth, but those relationships tend to be deep and rewarding. Introverts are more cautious and deliberate than extroverts, but that means they tend to think things through more thoroughly, which means they can often make smarter decisions. Introverts are better at listening--which, after all, is easier to do if you're not talking--and that can in turn make them better business leaders, especially if their employees feel empowered to act on their own initiative. And simply by virtue of their ability to sit still and focus, introverts find it easier to spend long periods in solitary work, which turns out to be the best way to come up with a fresh idea of master a skill.

    Introversion and extroversion aren't fixed categories--there's a personality spectrum, and many, known as ambivalent, fall in the gap between the two traits--but they are vital to our personality. "Our tendency to be extroverted or introverted is as profound a part of our identities as our gender," says Susan Cain, author of the new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. "But there's a subtle bias against introverts, and it's generally a waste of talent and energy and happiness." It may be time for America to learn the forgotten rewards of sitting down and shutting up.

    Born This Way
    If you want to know how tough a society of extroverts can be for introverts and how quiet types can learn to adapt, you could do worse than talk to Cain. A graduate of Harvard Law School--not an institution known for churning out timid folks--she practiced corporate law for seven years before she began writing full time. During most of those years in the legal system, she hated what she did. Not every day--Cain loved research and writing--but it soon became clear that her soft-spoken, introspective temperament might not have been the best fit for a high-powered law firm. Eventually she left law and began working on her own, coaching clients in negotiating skills and working as a writer. "When I started practicing the law, I thought the ideal lawyer was bold and comfortable in the spotlight, but I was none of those things," says Cain. "I could fake those things, but it wasn't my natural self."

    Faking it is exactly what a lot of introverts learn to do from an early age. And that masquerade covers up something primal and deep. Scientists have begun to learn that introverted or extroverted temperament seems strongly inborn and inherited, influencing our behavior from not long after we're out of the womb.

    < link to TIME (subscription required) >

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  2. #2
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    So basically, introverts interact with fewer things, but since they're more selective, they delve deeper?

  3. #3
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    I've shared something similar among my social circles, so I'll just copy what I wrote there:

    While I'm all for increasing awareness and education of differing dispositions, I tend to hate the self-helpy, you're-really-special-the-world-is-just-against-you sort of attitude that these articles can tend to perpetuate due to their language. Probably why I like enneagram so much; it's so negative it makes me feel more confident in what it tells me, and I'm not being pandered to.



  4. #4
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    "Hi, my name is Susan Cain and not only do I NEED to validate my existence, I also need to sell my book which isn't based on any scientific evidence, just chatting with people, observations and stuff."

  5. #5
    Habitual Fi LineStepper JocktheMotie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andante View Post
    "Hi, my name is Susan Cain and not only do I NEED to validate my existence, I also need to sell my book which isn't based on any scientific evidence, just chatting with people, observations and stuff."
    And, basically this.



  6. #6
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Yes, the USA today article was so thin, I didn't feel it was worth posting, but together the coverage does come across as rather therapeutic for those who feel marginalized. "Extroverts caused the financial collapse!" lol. It is the cover story, though, so I thought it would be of interest on typeoc. There is this article on introversion, too. Here is a slightly meatier section that I wanted to share, because it dovetails more with the investigation of solitude and has some different contributors.

    Caution, inhibition, and even fearfulness may be healthy--and smart adaptations for the overstimulated person, but they're still not characteristics many parents would want in their children, especially in a society that lionizes the bold. So it's common for moms and dads of introverted offspring to press their kids to be more outgoing, lest they end up overlooked in class and later in life. That, however, can be a mistake and not just because our temperaments are difficult to change fundamentally. The very fact that introverts arc more sensitive to their environment often means they're fully aware that they appear out of step with the expectations of others, and they can easily internalize that criticism. Just about every adult introvert can remember being scolded, even if gently, for being too quiet as a kid. Anytime a teacher grades on classroom participation, introverted kids will be at a disadvantage. There's nothing wrong with parents' nudging their shy children into the world, but there is something wrong if it's more than a nudge. "You don't want to break the kid by overwhelming their coping capacity,'' says Jay Belsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis. "The key is sensitive encouragement."

    But introverts also have tremendous advantages. Sure, there are thrills to be found in the situations extroverts crave, but there are dangers too. Extroverts are more likely than introverts to be hospitalized as the result of an injury, for example, and they're more likely to have affairs or change relationships frequently, with all the collateral damage that can entail. And while we all seek rewards, extroverts may be too hungry for them. That can lead them to be ambitious, which is fine, but it may also make them prioritize ambition over avoiding serious risks, which is not. "Extroverts are much more likely to get really excited by the possibility of a reward, but because of that, they won't always pay attention to warning signals," says Cain. "Introverts are much more circumspect."

    What happens when people chase rewards--particularly the financial kind--while ignoring the attendant risks of catastrophe and collapse? You get train wrecks like the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, for which extroverts may deserve a lot of the blame. Camelia Kuhnen of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management found in a study that a variation of a dopamine-regulating gene associated with thrill seeking is a strong predictor of financial risk taking. People with a gene variant linked to introversion, on the other hand, took 28% less financial risk than others. And this applies beyond finance. The overconfidence that characterizes many extroverts can lead to grave political mistakes like the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, in which President John F. Kennedy--a supreme extrovert--failed to foresee the strength of the opposition in Cuba.

    Studies also show that introverts tend to be better gamblers because they have so keen an awareness of risk. It's no coincidence that Warren Buffett, the world's greatest investor, is widely considered to be a homebody, happier reading annual reports or playing bridge than going out and socializing. The introvert advantage isn't only about avoiding trouble--for yourself or the global financial system. Florida State University psychologist K. Anders Ericsson believes that deliberate practice--training conducted in solitude, with no partner or teammate--is key to achieving transcendent skill whether in a sport, in a vocation or with a musical instrument. In one study, Ericsson and some of his colleagues asked professors at the Music academy in Berlin to divide violinists into three groups, ranging from those who would likely go on to professional careers to those who would become teachers instead of performers. The researchers asked the violinists to keep diaries and found that all three groups spent about the same amount of time--more than 50 hours a week--on musical activities. But the two groups whose skill levels made them likelier to play well enough to perform publicly spent most of their time practicing in solitude.

    In later studies, Ericsson and his colleagues found similar results with chess grand masters, athletes and even ordinary college students studying for exams. For all these groups, solitary training allows for a level of intense and personal focus that's hard to sustain in a group setting. You gain the most on your performance when you work alone," says Ericsson. "And the introverted temperament might make some kids more willing to make that commitment."

    The trouble is, fewer and fewer of us have time for solitary contemplation and practice anymore. It's not just the assault of e-mail, cell phones and social. media; in fact, many introverts prefer these digital tools because they provide a buffer that telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings don't. But the very geography of the American workplace is designed to force people together. Some 70% of American workers spend their days in open-plan offices, with little or no separation from colleagues; since 1970, the average amount of space allotted to each employee has shrunk from 500 sq. ft. (46 sq m) to 200 sq. ft. (19 sq m). Much of this is done in the name of collaboration, but enforced teamwork can stifle creativity.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Sizzling Berry's Avatar
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    Susan Cain: The power of introverts

    I like this one very much: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_...ntroverts.html .
    Hot-hearted head

  8. #8
    Member DisneyFanGirl's Avatar
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    That's pretty cool. I'm a very shy extrovert so situations in which most extroverts would thrive make me want to run away. I prefer one-on-one interactions, they give me a lot of energy. Nice to know my behavior is fairly normal and healthy.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andante View Post
    "Hi, my name is Susan Cain and not only do I NEED to validate my existence, I also need to sell my book which isn't based on any scientific evidence, just chatting with people, observations and stuff."
    Pretty much. It's like self-reassurance and book sales combined.

  10. #10
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JocktheMotie View Post
    I've shared something similar among my social circles, so I'll just copy what I wrote there:

    While I'm all for increasing awareness and education of differing dispositions, I tend to hate the self-helpy, you're-really-special-the-world-is-just-against-you sort of attitude that these articles can tend to perpetuate due to their language. Probably why I like enneagram so much; it's so negative it makes me feel more confident in what it tells me, and I'm not being pandered to.
    Introverts are marginalised. Introversion is still disparaged by the extrovert majority because they do not understand it. At all. It doesn't hurt to balance the PR a bit.

    I was told to go easy on someone at work recently because "he's an introvert!" Which I found fucking hilarious. What they meant was "he's a pussy". They actually thought they were being kind.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

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