Today’s world values activity. People are assessed by how much they do, how they behave, how communicative they are, and how well they socialize. The active way of life is the undisputed desirable norm, and many people around the world take a high level of activity for granted—they never question it. However, there are also a group of people, who, due to their personality, feel uncomfortable about being excessively active. This personality type is known as an introvert. This term has come to be used as a synonym for grim, dull, or even asocial, and thus needs to be clarified, since introversion is not a pathology. Introverts have a different approach to life from the one that has been adopted as exemplary by mainstream culture.
So what is introversion? Merriam-Webster’s Online dictionary defines introversion as the state or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life. Dictionary.com, among other meanings, defines introversion as being a shy. According to Charles Martin, an introvert is a person whose “energy comes from dealing with the ideas and reactions within one’s head, in the inner world” (Martin). Susan Cain says that, opposite to extroverts, “introverts prefer less stimulating environments and tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak” (Cain).
In light of this, introversion can be defined as an individual’s tendency to concentrate and reflect on their own inner world, giving a priority to thinking over acting, and adhering to a comfortable environment. They prefer to spend more time on their own or with a couple of people they know well.
Introversion grants individuals with a set of features, which makes them completely different from the type of personality presented by extroverts. According to Cain, introverts prefer to limit their circles to a few acquaintances; however, they build extremely stable and long-lasting relationships (Cain); they tend to know people better than extroverts. Introverts become exhausted rather quickly by constant contact with other people.
Introverts often prefer to work alone as opposed to with a team. They do not take action as quickly as extroverts, and tend to ponder over a problem at hand before starting to solve it. However, due of this, they often foresee consequences that escape their extrovert counterparts, thus taking more effective actions and making more efficient decisions. Due to the peculiarities of their thinking process, introverts are often misunderstood by those around them; they are often believed to be detached and unemotional, though they might be simply thinking about their interlocutor’s words. They could be experiencing a real emotional storm inside, but show little of it on the outside.
Introversion is considered an aberration, but this is because modern societies have developed so many extroverts. According to Marty O. Laney, about 75% of people are extroverts (Laney). She also claims that personality types cannot be changed—only slight modifications are possible. This can seem upsetting, but in fact, it allows many people to feel comfortable with their introversion. They can stop trying to become someone they are not and learn how to live comfortably in the extroverts’ world.
Therefore, introversion is not an aberration or pathology. In fact, it is a type of personality, possessed by approximately 25% of the world’s population, which involves a completely different way of thinking and functioning than is considered normal nowadays. Generally speaking, introversion is a tendency to concentrate on the inner world. Introverts often give priority to thinking over acting, and prefer to adhere to a comfortable environment. They are as sociable as extroverts, but choose to limit the number of people they associate with. They prefer instead to establish deeper relationships with fewer people. Being an introvert is a unique chance to look at the world from the other side, and there is no need for such individuals to try to be someone else.
1. Martin, Charles R. “Extraversion or Introversion.” The Myers & Briggs Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. <http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.asp>.
2. Cain, Susan. “The Secret Power of Introverts.” Interview by Jenna Goudreau. Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 21 Jan. 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/01/26/the-secret-power-of-introverts/>.
3. Laney, Marti Olsen. The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. New York: Workman Pub., 2002. Print.
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Related Writing Guides
Writing a Definition Essay
As my public speaking class draws to an end, I’ve decided to share the speeches I wrote for the class. Yesterday, I shared the last speech, today, I’ll share the first speech I wrote for the class. As you read, please keep in mind that this is an informative speech.
Difference between Introvert and Extrovert
True or False? Introverts are quiet and shy, extroverts are wild. False. People who prefer introversion just tend to think before they speak while extroverts tend to speak before they think. However, with these two completely polar opposite personalities, don’t you wonder how they will get along in a group? First, though we have to define what really makes an introvert and extrovert, then we’ll compare and contrast the two personalities in a group and leadership setting.
What categorizes one as an introvert or an extrovert? Well, it depends. From the research of psychiatrist Carl Jung, introversion and extroversion refers to the origin of our energy or what energizes us and what drains our energy. However, contrary to popular beliefs, introverts are not quiet or shy, they are simply those who prefer to observe before they speak rather than the other way around. For example, when socializing with strangers, introverts tend to want to get to know the person better before sharing their inner thoughts and beliefs. Extroverts are the opposite of that. They are those who have no problem speaking to a large group of strangers. Basically, extroverts get their energy from being surrounded by people while introverts get their energy by focusing internally on thoughts, ideas, and reflection. What happens in a group setting, when introverts and extroverts are forced to communicate? According to senior organizational consultant at the University of Arizona, Mark Trommer, “it can be hard for people to communicate with one another if they have different styles.”
And now, we are going to compare and contrast between those different styles. First of all, you should know that the effectiveness of introverted and extroverted leadership is dependent upon the type of work structure. Under the leadership of an introvert, team members tend to be proactive. It is the team members’ duty to take the initiative in introducing changes and new ideas to the team. Therefore, experts believe that the performance of a team led by an introvert tends to perform better. On the other hand, under the leadership of an extrovert, team members tend to be dutifully followers looking for guidance. They do what they are told and their leader tends to feel threatened when a team member attempts to introduce a new idea to the team because it would mean the team member is stealing the spotlight. Let’s apply those characteristics to a real life experiment conducted by the University of Carolina.
This experiment was conducted by Adam Grant and David Hoffman and it is an experiment to test whether higher performance would come from passive employees as when being led by an extrovert or proactive employees as when being led by an introvert. The profits of 57 different stores of a single US pizza chain were compared over 7 weeks and it is according to whether the store manager is an extrovert or an introvert. The results show that the stores with extroverted managers earned 16% more profit than the stores led by an introverted leader while stores led by an introvert earn 14% less profit.
So there you have it, the quantitative analysis between extroverted and introverted leadership in a group setting. Just to recap, introverted leaders are most effective when the team members are proactive while extroverted leaders are most effective when the team members are passive, meaning they’re followers. Based on the experiment’s results, does this mean the company should only hire extroverts for manager positions? Does this proof extroverts make the best leaders? I guess we’ll find out.