Introversion Gaining the Respect It Deserves
Do you consider yourself an introvert? If so, you might have found it tough going these days. You see, introversion has gotten a bad rap lately. Introverts are often labeled as shy, withdrawn, and even non-team players.
As a society, we expect everyone to be gabby at work meetings, social butterflies at parties, and ultra-hand raisers in class (click here to find out how I handled this conundrum in graduate school). Professional networking - an activity diametrically opposed to introverts' approach to connecting - has become monumentally important for anyone who wants to find or keep a job.
Heck, one of my former supervisors once suggested that I take an improvisational comedy class to "increase my participation in meetings"! Unfortunately, if we don't do these types of things, we're often considered less valuable than our more talkative peers.
But a best-selling book by Susan Cain, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," may be changing the landscape of introversion. In the book, Cain suggests that our society is in the beginning stages of a "quiet revolution." Why does she think this? Here are a few examples:
- High schools across the country are reconsidering whether to continue including class participation as part of students' grades.
- Businesses with open office plans are reexamining their choices to eliminate individualized workspaces.
- Colleges and universities are having deeper discussions about admissions criteria and whether introverts are unfairly overlooked.
- The value of self-reflection is gaining momentum in leadership development circles.
This is great news. In a world where, according to research, only about half of the population is extroverted, why do we put so much value on being loud, being heard, and being noticed? It's not that there aren't good outgoing folks in our midst, because there are plenty. It's simply that less talkative folks often fail to get the respect they deserve as socially and intellectually valuable members of society.
Cain points out that without introverts, we would not have contributions such as "Walden," Harry Potter, or the theories of relativity and gravity. Yikes! We need introverts, and they deserve our esteem and attention just as much as extroverts do.
So if you're an introvert, take solace in the ways the tides are shifting and enjoy the ride. And if you're an extrovert, there's no need to panic. The world is plenty big for all of us.
Cain, S. (2013). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Crown Publishers: New York.
Manning, K. (August 14, 2013). 'Quiet revolution' is making noise. Chicago Tribune (Kindle version).