It seems like the 21st century has become the revenge of the introvert. From Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introvert’s in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, to Marti Olsen Laney’s The Introvert Advantage to Lifehack’s “7 Positives Only Introverts Would Understand” to Forbes’ “Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders,” introversion has entered into the public dialectic.
And I think that’s great.
I’m an insanely introverted person myself, in fact.
I was the stereotypical nose-in-the-book but few friends type of kid. I would stay up hours past my bedtime reading with a flashlight under my covers so that my parents would think I was asleep.
I was also the nerd teenager who never got a B in an English class. Ever.
All that quiet focus I probably owe to my introverted temperament. So thanks, introverted temperament, I owe you a lot.
The pros to this temperament are many: we’re great listeners. We give good advice. We’re reflective and observant. We offend few. We usually have fantastic writing skills, and possess a quiet focus. We’re productive.
There are things though, that this popular introvert public dialectic doesn’t tell you:
1. We get so wrapped up in ourselves, and more specifically our inner selves, that we eschew traditional social customs.
Like for instance, we’ll sit in silence in the middle of a group discussion and let everyone else talk. Or we’ll forget that the polite thing to do is to active listen: “so you’re saying that…” “So if I understand you correctly…” Or we’ll forget to do the “Uh-huh, I totally know what you mean” interjections. How could we? Ruuuude.
2. We may appear rude, snobby or uptight to acquaintances.
If we sit too long in silence, we’ll get the “Are you upset? Are you okay? What’s wrong with you?” Really, we were just listening. I promise. It’s going to be okay.
3. We sometimes have verbal communication issues. But give us a pen and paper and we’ll gladly write you a novel.
We may stutter when we get nervous, or when there’s conflict. We may have a hard time articulating what’s in our hearts and minds. We may fear public speaking. But can we email like a pro? Heck yes. Write our significant others romantic letters articulating our feelings perfectly? Double heck to the yes. Writing emails and letters comes in handy, right?
4. We hate networking.
Like literally, we’ll refuse to show up to networking events. We have no patience for sucking up or small talk. Which, by the way, we suck at.
5. We have fewer friends.
While we may have deeper friendships than our extroverted peers, in a world of facebook friends and twitter followers, it’s easy to compare our lives to others in terms of quantity over quality. And stalk extroverted people on facebook.
But all cons aside, let’s be honest: we all love our Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower types. I mean really, how else would we have discovered The Smiths?