by Lori Milner - author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
Susan Cain is most famous for her Ted Talk ‘The Power of Introverts’. In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.
I visited her site and did her personality quiz here- https://www.quietrev.com/the-introvert-test/ and discovered that I am in fact an introvert, although I do have a mix of both traits. This was fascinating to me as I considered myself an extrovert because of my curious nature to network, meet people, run workshops and do public speaking. But for me, the real defining factor is what energizes you. I am energized by solitude, reading, more intimate gatherings with quality people rather than large parties with people I don’t really know. I like time to connect with myself whereas true extroverts rely on others to energize them.
Here is the breakdown of what an introvert, ambivert and extrovert is according to Susan Cain.
Given the choice, you’ll devote your social energy to a small group of people you care about most, preferring a glass of wine with a close friend to a party full of strangers. You think before you speak, have a more deliberate approach to risk, and enjoy solitude. You feel energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity that really interests you. When you’re in overly stimulating environments (too loud, too crowded, etc.) you tend to feel overwhelmed. You seek out environments of peace, sanctuary, and beauty; you have an active inner life and are at your best when you tap into its riches.
Extroverts relish social life and are energized by interacting with friends and strangers alike. They’re typically assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day. Extroverts are great at thinking on their feet; they’re relatively comfortable with conflict. Given the choice, extroverts usually prefer more stimulating environments that give them frequent opportunities to see and speak with others. When they’re in quiet environments, they’re prone to feeling bored and restless. They are actively engaged in the world around them and at their best when tapping into its energy.
Very few people are completely extroverted or introverted. See below for information on the other temperaments. You might see a bit of yourself there, as well.
Ambiverts fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed.
Why does it matter?
It matters because introversion and extroversion lie at the heart of human nature. One scientist refers to them as “the north and south of temperament.” When you make life choices that are congruent with your temperament—and allow others to do the same—you unleash vast stores of energy. Conversely, when you spend too much time battling your own nature, the opposite happens: you deplete yourself.
How to get the best out of everyone: focus on awareness for each type
It’s pretty much certain that we’re going to come in contact with a variety of personalities throughout our lives, from extreme introverts to extreme extroverts, and everyone in between. Understanding the differences between these tendencies can help us get along with others and get the best out of everyone.
Lifehacker has a great explanation of the differences between introverts and extroverts, which uses the analogy of being right or left-handed. This is a great way of seeing the benefits of both tendencies, regardless of which one you exhibit more of. Most of us will be one or the other, but writing with your right hand doesn’t render your left hand inert. Similarly, an extroverted person can still do things that aren’t typically associated with extroversion. Meanwhile, introverts can learn to adapt to more extroverted scenarios, even if it might not come as naturally.
This same article on Lifehacker goes on to make a really important point: “The absolute worst thing you can do with either type is use a single word to define your approach.” Understanding the tendencies of ourselves and others is just the beginning. Effective communication means we need to take into account each person’s personality as well.
If we focus on simply being extremely aware of which type we’re dealing with, noticing small behaviours that point us more in the extroverts or introvert’s direction, then we’ll be easily on the right track to dealing with people in the right way. Especially in our social media age, if we look at some of the latest social media statistics, there is a clear trend that caring for introverts and extroverts is something we should keep focusing on.
Here’s to the journey of self-mastery.
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
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