Bestselling author Susan Cain pays homage to the introvert. Because in a world where no one is ever silent, we need to make room for the introvert.
What makes a person introverted?
According to author Susan Cain, it’s all related to our nervous system. An introverted person is far more sensitive to (social) stimuli.
Do you feel like you’re more of an introvert than an extrovert? You probably feel a panic attack coming when you see a big crowd of people. And after a few hours partying, you probably prefer to hide under a blanket. In social situations, you often feel tired – and you recharge when you’re alone.
You perform better when there’s peace and quiet around you, because it makes you feel comfortable. That’s why, according to Susan Cain, it’s essential for all of us to create an environment that works for us – whether that’s a quiet place, or a place full of stimuli.
Extraversion as an ideal
Unfortunately, society is mostly focused on the needs of the extrovert. Cain says extroverted people are considered perfect people: ‘Charismatic, persuasive smooth talkers are often very successful in their careers, due to modern society’s values.’
It’s clear in our companies and schools – there are open bull pen offices everywhere and for young students, working in groups is obligatory. That’s a shame, because most ingenious ideas are born in isolation. ‘Being on our own is a crucial ingredient for creativity. Theodor Geissel, known as Dr Seuss, invented his amazing stories in a bell tower, and Darwin took endless walks in the woods,’ says Cain.
This is the power of introversy
Because of this lack of room to work (and think) independently, the introvert doesn’t use all of their potential. Which is a shame, because there’s a power hidden inside them.
Psychological research shows that most creative people like to be alone: they are good at sharing and developing innovative ideas and have a lot of introverted features.
But when it comes to leadership, an introvert is hardly the first choice. And that’s a pity. Because according to research, introverted people are better leaders. They are thorough, less likely to take big risks, and their results are better. Because the introvert tends to avoid the spotlights, there’s room for every employee to bring their own ideas.
Some of the biggest world leaders were introverted: Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Gandhi. All three are inspiring leaders who had big impact on the world, who described themselves as timid and even shy.
Still, it's all about teamwork
Cain ends her talk with a plea for a new balance – a yin-yang division between extraversion and introversion. Because in the end, she says, it’s about teamwork. The problems we face as a society, are so immense and complex, that we need every indual (and their talents). When introverted people know they’re allowed to be who they are, a brilliant idea might just pop up – one that helps us all forward.
Photo: Olly Joy