Monday, September 26, 2016

Quiet! Thoughtful, Sensitive Introverts at Work…and at Play

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by [Cain, Susan]

Must you be pushy to succeed as a woman over 60?
Books and articles on becoming successful often emphasize personality over character, urging natural introverts (about one-third of the U.S. population, and usually women) toward imitating extroverts. Au contraire! Former Wall Street lawyer Susan Cain defends introverts like herself in her best-selling, widely enthusiastically reviewed recent book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Making of the Meek and of the Bold
Children more sensitive than average to their surroundings, parents, and peers tend to become introverts as adults, seeking quiet rather than noise, calm rather than activity, liking being alone. Such sensitive children become more considerate and agreeable than most, often preferring individual achievement to group endeavors. They also gravitate toward individualized participation in the arts and sciences.
Introverts are unusually sensitive, thus empathetic; they speak more softly and like to be spoken to softly. They laugh more than do extroverts, yet prefer more serious topics. Introverts are more sensitive to loss, being cautious, risk-averse, avoiding controversy.
Extroverts are more attuned to gain, risk-seeking. Extroverts enjoy competition, sometimes even relish controversy. They are stereotypically leaders. Acting like an extrovert, including when socializing, is an effort for introverts, but many can do it, sometimes convincingly.
Which type are you? You can investigate by taking the widely-used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator online here. Most people are not “purely” one type or the other, instead lying somewhere between the extremes.
If you are pretty much an introvert, you aren’t denied a happy and fruitful life, however.

How Do Introverts Succeed? “Still Waters Run Deep”
Working alone or in small groups, introverts succeed by giving greater thought to their endeavors, diligently, and by using their natural tendency to be empathetic to form close relationships with a few others, drawing out their best ideas. Steve Jobs’s co-developer of the Apple Computer, Steve Wozniak, much preferred working out problems on his own rather than in a group setting, and this istrue of many successful inventors and artists.

Although those who speak fluently and forcefully are stereotypically perceived as having greater leadership ability and as being brighter than their quieter peers, neither of these has been found to be true.

Action-oriented extroverts are reward-sensitive, more likely to leap before they look; introverts are loss-sensitive and tend to look before they leap. Wall Street extrovert bulls may fuel rising markets; introvert bears play it safe, lessening their losses on the downturns.

At play, introverts prefer socializing with fewer people in quieter and more intimate settings than do their more outgoing, extrovert friends. A “mixed” introvert-extrovert couple will need to recognize this and seek settings and events that are compromises. Alternatively, they can decide to create schedules that alternate between their preferred styles.

Too Much Talk?
Susan Cain’s subtitle, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, suggests a frustration with the garrulousness of some people. Extroverts can hog the conversation, making introverts hardly heard. Both should be able to contribute.
Since they are not engrossed in framing what they will say next, introverts are generally good listeners. Whether in school or at work, such quiet ones need to have their opinions solicited, preferably with plenty of advance notice. Disliking surprises, they may do better by writing out beforehand what they intend to say.
Some people talk because they want to get something from their listeners rather than want to give something. A manipulative talker argues, persuades, nudges, suggests, pleads, berates, and wheedles, to name a few. Conversation should be a form of exchange, a trade. If one party is lying or deceptive, this is exchanging counterfeit words for honest words of the person he is talking to. No wonder we prize honesty.

Or Too Little?
Granted, virtues can be overdone, becoming vices. Too little talk makes us mysteries to one another. Misunderstandings arise. Sometimes we must speak up and ask others to do so, too.

“The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth” (Matthew 5:5)
Introverts can flourish in an extrovert-dominated world by focusing on their talents and natural empathy, occasionally pushing themselves to be more outgoing to be sure to be heard and heeded.
If the meek do inherit the Earth, it will probably be run by extroverts…getting many of their good ideas from introverts, often women. As Nobel physicist Stephen Hawking noted, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Are you more an introvert or extrovert? In which situations, in solitude or in a group, do you do your best work? How have you adapted your style on occasion?

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., is a former Harvard science professor. He still publishes, and he helps others write and publish their books via his Douglas’s life's central theme has been his half-century romance with Tina Su Cooper, quadriplegic for over a decade due to multiple sclerosis, receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, care discussed at their website here.


Originally published in somewhat edited form at:

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