I am a “card-carrying” introvert — leaning toward the introverted end of the introvert/extrovert continuum.
As expressed by Susan Cain – I am also proud of it (I too, thought of summer camp as a confusing form of torture). I’m one of those individuals who gathers strength from focusing “inward” and would rather brainstorm on my own than among a group of people. Like other introverts, I rehearse what I am going to say in a team environment — and feel more than a little drained after attending a party. I tend to “choke” if things go wrong, and I’m put on the spot. Meetings without defined agendas are problematic, as gathering my opinions before weighing in on a topic is important. Speaking in front of others can be challenging — however, the conversations that emerge are wonderful.
Like many introverts, I am also a bit misunderstood. As a youngster, I was continually asked why I wasn’t “smiling” at social gatherings, when in actuality I was having a perfectly good time observing the scene and watching others. (Just not waving my arms and jumping up and down with glee.) In college some of the other students in my dormitory let me know that at first meeting they found me “stuck up” or “shy”. But, that just wasn’t the case. I thoroughly enjoyed social gathering with friends and love to laugh.
At LinkedIn, I’ve written about a challenging task for introverts — working on a team. (You can read “A Note About Introverts and Teams” here.) I spent the better part of a month reading about introversion and how this might impact workplace experiences. This included how introverts process information and how they might be most effective overall. I also had the opportunity to interview businesses that have developed novel methods to ensure that all voices are heard within a group setting. (These techniques were quite amazing).
But, by far – the most interesting aspect of the post were the comments from readers. Fellow introverts, team members and managers who just want the best and most productive outcome for all of us in the workplace. These comments let me know that our differences can combine to form a stronger team environment – and that mutual understanding and respect is really where our efforts should lie.
Are you a “card-carrying” introvert? What are your workplace experiences? Tell your story.