In Praise of Introverts

“Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.” Jenn Granneman, author of the bestselling book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World, and creator of IntrovertDear.com.I get my energy internally from solitude and not from external stimulation such as being in a crowd, which is a key trait of introverts. I have no problem being alone as I can fill that time with many interests. However, I don’t mind being around people, either, and I find it relatively easy to start conversations even with strangers (such as clerks in stores or people in public settings). Some famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K. Rowling, Warren Buffet, Mahatma Ghandi, Michael Jordan, Meryl Streep, and Elon Musk (source here).

The Myers-Briggs Foundation defines extrovert and introvert as follows:

C. G. Jung applied the words “extrovert” and “introvert” in a different manner than they are most often used in today’s world. As they are popularly used, the term extroverted is understood to mean sociable or outgoing, while the term introverted is understood to mean shy or withdrawn. Jung, however, originally intended the words to have an entirely different meaning. He used the words to describe the preferred focus of one’s energy on either the outer or the inner world. Extroverts orient their energy to the outer world, while Introverts orient their energy to the inner world. One of Jung’s and Isabel Myers’ great contributions to the field of psychology is their observations that Introversion and Extroversion are both healthy variations in personality style. (Quote source here.)

Introverts tend to get a bad rap. Lifehack lists 16 misconceptions regarding introverts: (1) they are shy; (2) they are unemotional; (3) they don’t like working in groups; (4) they don’t like talking; (5) they are scared to look you in the eye; (6) they are poor public speakers; (7) they just want to be left alone; (8) they over-analyze everything; (9) they don’t like to go out in public; (10) they are high strung; (11) they are underachievers; (12) that they can break out of their shell and become extroverts; (13) they are rude; (14) they are no fun; (15) they don’t make good leaders; and (16) extroverts are happier than introverts (source here).

None of those items listed above are true, although I must admit that #8 tends to be something I do tend to do (e.g., over-analyze everything). As I was looking for information on the Internet on introverts, there is a treasure trove of information out there. One particular article of personal interest I found on IntrovertDear.com, published on April 18, 2019, is titled, INFJ: 9 Reasons You’re Still Single,” by Jenn Granneman, creator of IntrovertDear.com, who is the author I quoted at the top of this post. However, since the focus of this article is rather narrow, if you are interested in reading it you can read it at this link.

In another article on IntrovertDear.com, published on July 7, 2017, and titled, 7 Distinct Advantages Introverts Have Over Extroverts,” by Jetta, a freelance writer, artist, and blogger, she lists the following seven advantages:

At times, it can seem like a severe disadvantage to be an introvert. Extroverts appear to have all the fun, and their gregarious, attention-seeking personalities often allow them to reap promotions, popularity, and recognition. Introverts, on the other hand, may get passed over and have their valuable work go unnoticed. Their preference for quiet observation can sometimes be a detriment to their success in this dog-eat-dog world.

Despite this, there are many areas in which introverts have a leg up on extroverts. Many of today’s most successful people are introverts, such as J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, and Mark Zuckerberg.

But introverts not only have the ability to rival extroverts professionally, they also possess a number of distinct advantages over them. Here are seven areas in which introverts shine more than their extroverted counterparts. These points may not apply to every introvert and extrovert (we’re individuals, after all), but I believe they are generally true.

The Advantages of Being an Introvert

1. Introverts are low maintenance.

While introverts may be judged for their lack of participation, they’ll hardly ever be accused of being obnoxious, needy, and disruptive. Because introverts value their space, they tend to naturally respect that of others. They’re largely independent and not clingy, and they’re generally more inclined to be polite and considerate of the impact of their behavior on others. They tend to think before they speak, whereas extroverts may blurt the first things that come to mind.

2. Introverts tend to be creative and original.

While extroverts may adopt the values of the group and what is mainstream and popular, introverts tend to have their own preferences that are less influenced by trends. They may gravitate towards things that are obscure, unusual, or downright strange. Because they spend more of their time on their own, away from the places extroverts commonly occupy, they’re apt to develop perspectives, ideas, and insights that are unorthodox and novel. The introverted theoretical-physicist Albert Einstein once stated, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

3. Introverts are shrewd.

Because of the way they’re wired, introverts are predisposed to exercising caution and deliberating thoughtfully before making a decision. This propensity for deliberation puts them at a greater advantage when it comes to things like critical thinking, problem solving, and assessing the character of another person. Because they spend more time reflecting and observing, they’re liable to accrue a deeper understanding of various aspects of life, including human behavior. This may contribute to greater judgment in business or penetrating insight as a psychologist. Introverts like to take their time to reflect on and process a decision properly so that they can choose the best course of action that they won’t later regret.

4. Introverts are generally better listeners.

The “quiet ones” tend to really listen and consider the ideas and feelings of others. In conversation, they may take mental notes and focus intently on what people are trying to express—as opposed to simply waiting for their chance to speak. Because they process things deeply, introverts are naturally more receptive and interested in taking in information than divulging it. This is why people often confide in introverts—and they are good at keeping secrets. Many introverts understand how difficult it is to open up and trust people, so they may work hard to be more trustworthy themselves.

5. Introverts are able to really focus.

Since introverts give less attention to socializing than extroverts, they devote more attention to other things. They have the ability to cloister themselves away from the rest of the world and bunker down to accomplish a task or objective. Provided there are no disruptions, they can deeply immerse themselves in solitary activities like research or writing for extended periods of time. Often, the temptations that compete for the extrovert’s attention hold no power over the introverted mind. Their ability to concentrate often allows them to become experts and highly proficient in many fields of interest.

6. Introverts cultivate deep connections with people.

Introverts prefer quality of relationships over quantity. Extroverts are more inclined to rack up a bounty of personal connections, but many of them will be casual in nature. Introverts are more discriminating in who they allow into their world, so the relationships they do form will be cherished and nurtured. The introverted personality has little interest in shallow interactions and instead prefers to establish relationships that they find meaningful and deep. They’ll invest more effort into cultivating a small number of stronger connections than a large number of surface-level associations. As a result, they’re better able at surrounding themselves with people who are trustworthy and loyal to them.

7. Introverts are more independent.

Many extroverts insist on teamwork and being a team player. Because introverts are more private, they’re inclined to cultivate a lifestyle that maximizes autonomy and self-sufficiency. Whenever possible, they prefer to work independently, and they require less supervision than most extroverts. Managers can trust them to carry out a task without being derailed or distracted by socializing. Many introverts loathe being dependent on others, and they feel empowered in being able to deal with challenges relying solely on their own merit. (Quote source here.)

In an article published in 2017 on Psych2Go.net titled, 10 Strengths of Being an Introvert,” here is that list of those ten strengths:

Susan Cain, the author of the international best seller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking lists the ten strengths of introverts.

Ten strengths of being an introvert are:

1. Quiet Temperament

Cain says that introverts have a quiet temperament which is their hidden superpower. I agree with Cain. Just because introverts are not great socializers, it doesn’t make them less powerful publicly. People with quiet temperaments have been great achievers and leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln (Cain, Mone and Moroz, 2016).

2. Creativity

As introverts spend a great deal of time in solitude, ideas spring in their minds during such a time. Right from the CEO of Apple Tim Cook, to the creators of “Cat in the Hat” (Dr. Seuss) and “Harry Potter” (J.K. Rowling) – all forms of creativity have sprung from the minds of the introverts! (Cain, Mone, and Moroz, 2016). 

3. Thinkers

Introverts are great thinkers, and most of their monologue occur in their minds. They take the time to think, think and think just the way others take the time to watch TV or listen to some music. Their quiet time, when they think a lot, it is also space for them to dream, plan, deal with their disappointments or frustrations; handle their fears or battle with their problems (Kahnweiler, 2013). Their constant thinking helps them to become better problem solvers and to rationalize and make decisions. They think through every single aspect that crosses their mind. 

4. Preparation

Introverts are good in preparation whether it comes to doing work, handling a task, or even communication, they “really” prepare. Preparation enables introverts to be ready for any kind of situation (Kahnweiler, 2013). At work, preparation helps them to do their jobs efficiently. When it comes to communication, preparation enables them to say the right things at the right time. Instead of talking a lot of things, they tend to say what is required by using the right words. 

5. Listening

Listening is one of the best qualities and strengths of the introverts. Since they tend to talk less, they listen more. They give a lot of importance to others’ non-verbal communications or body language (facial expressions, gestures, postures) and to the tone of communication. Their listening capacity helps them to be sensitive to others. They believe in engaged listening giving the space and opportunity for others to talk. 

6. Prioritizing

Introverts are good in prioritizing work, their daily schedules and the people in their lives. Since they take time to prioritize, they tend not to mismanage any of their tasks. As realists, introverts do not believe in handling too many things at the same time. They are realistic about what they can handle and what they can’t (including people). Hence they tend to prioritize their work, schedules, communication with people and social interactions ensuring that it produces satisfactory results. 

7. Focus

When it comes to focusing, introverts do the best. Kahnweiler (2013) rightly puts it “introverts seek depth over breadth.” This quality in them helps them to focus keenly by diving deep, whether it is work or relationships or knowing people. Because of their ability to focus deep, their ability to think critically, organize and make plans and implementation of the plan is done by getting into details. 

8. Role Model

Introverts are quiet role models. Leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi who were introverts lead their nations by being quiet influencers. They have stood as role models for others to follow without putting themselves at the center. What has attracted people to these quiet influencers is their modesty, quietness, gentleness, and warmth towards people. Introverts stand out as quiet influencers because they don’t use any approach to win people or adopt strategies to make others do their bidding (Kahnweiler, 2013).  

9. Stretch

Though introverts are always labeled as closed type personality with little room for socialization or getting out of their comfort zone, they do stretch at times and can come into the spotlight (Cain, Mone, and Moroz, 2016). They are like the rubber bands who pop out when required only to go back to their real self. Their ability to stretch and not be rigid is one of their strengths.  

10. Writing

Writing is the most natural and best strength of an introvert. Writing causes them to be free in their mind and being. It’s like a booster to them to write all they think freely and bring out their thoughts uninterrupted and honestly. Writing helps them to think through, refine their plans, generate breakthrough ideas and solutions which otherwise could have been difficult (Kahnweiler, 2013). As Kanhnweiler (2013) emphasizes that writing “pushes the brain to think longer, harder, deeper and more unconventionally than it normally would” which fits the introverts’ personality. (Quote source here.)

References:

Cain, S., Mone, G. and Moroz, E. (2016). Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. New York: Penguin Books.

Kahnweiler, J.B. (2013). Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference. California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

The way I see it, there are a lot of advantages to being an introvert! So don’t let the world keep you down if you are an introvert, too. And remember that . . .

Still waters . . .

Run . . .

Deep . . . .

YouTube Video: “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here