Monday, April 15, 2013

More about introverts

This post is sort of a part 2 to the previous post.  The latter was too long so I decided to split it into two posts.

Some of my friends have told me that I sound forceful and forthcoming online, which seems surprising as I'm an introvert. I think that's part of the misconception of introverts, that we're quiet and docile, even in our outlook on life.

Being an introvert doesn't mean we don't have strong views. It just means we don't like to express these views in a room, in a loud voice, to a large audience.  In this sense, social media has given introverts a channel to express their opinions from their private space without the brash confrontation that is normally expected in a social setting. In other words, social media has given introverts a voice.

I can't tell you how many times I've been surprised when I meet people I've only corresponded with online, who debate topics intelligently and voraciously, only to find them quiet and mild-mannered in real life. 

In Susan Cain's video, she mentioned Dr Seuss who wrote all those fabulously tongue-in-cheek, over the top children's books.  He's a shy person in real life and didn't want to meet his fans because he was afraid they would be disappointed to see that he wasn't as charismatic as the Cat in the Hat.  Jack Nicholson's character in the show "As Good As It Gets", was a writer of popular, swash-buckling romance novels but in reality, he was a crotchety, old man with a bad case of OCD.

However, I hasten to condemn introverts to be stuck behind their pens and computers because that's a pretty limiting concept. As an introvert, I detest public speaking but as Susan Cain proves, this can be changed.  Lesley-Anne used to be extremely uncomfortable with presentations but since they do so much of it in school, she's more more at ease doing it now. Like with most things, it just takes practice.  I don't expect it ever to be the preferred activity of introverts but at least it can become one which doesn't paralyse you. 

Finally, here's a funny but very apt cartoon description of introverts.  Introverts are not unsociable folks but any prolonged social interaction can sap our energy. When I'm around an extrovert who can't stop talking for too long (especially a loud one), I often find myself getting increasingly irritable, physically exhausted and feeling like I need to crawl into bed and go into "recharge battery" mode.

It's not that introverts are social hermits, we just prefer more private and intimate gatherings.  I love going out with close friends, having a long catch up over a cup of coffee.  Kenneth, an extrovert, enjoys going to corporate events where he can meet new people, widen his social circle and chat with every Tom, Dick and Harry.  For me, making small talk among strangers is incredibly boring and more work than fun.  That's the part about being a PR practitioner that I hated most.   

So if you're an extrovert, that's something to take note of, especially if you have an introvert spouse or kids.  Be nice to your introverts today!


Anonymous said...


Some of the things you said resonated with me.
I work in a MNC where the expressive ones get all the limelight and credit, whereas the quiet hardworking ones get more work.
During assessment, my Indian boss told me that I am too quiet, and gave me a grade below my expectation even though I overcame challenges to return one of the best (if not the best) results in the team.
C'est la vie.


monlim said...

Nutella: :( Hopefully there will be more awareness of this issue and more recognition of introverts at the workplace, in time to come.

Anonymous said...

Mon, can you guess if I am an introvert or extrovert? :)


monlim said...

QX: I'm guessing introvert :)

Anonymous said...

Mon, I think you are not wrong from what I have been projecting to you in our communication. :)

As I am also clueless where I clearly fit because I feel like an in-between based on gut feel, so I did the Meyers-Briggs test for introversion and extroversion traits to get a more fact-based determination of my profile.

And the verdict is ENTJ which is Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging.

Surprised? :)

monlim said...

QX: actually, that may not be such an anomaly cos the Introversion trait on Myers-Briggs is slightly different from what we normally consider an introvert. Under the Myers-Briggs, Introversion refers more to the way we process information, either through external sources or through self. So I guess in reality, you can be an E under Myers-Briggs and still be an introvert in the regular sense :)

Anonymous said...

What you say might be true.


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