I had assumed, with all the attention on introversion and the positive aspects of a quieter disposition these last few years, my life as an introvert (INFJ, baby!) would become more welcomed and understood in our crazy busy society.
Who was I kidding?
Since outing myself as an introvert several years ago (actually, no one was really all that surprised), it seems I am still expected to act like an extrovert. Awesome.
In light of this, I would like to highlight some of the positive qualities of introversion and remind folks that introverts have much to offer. Granted, I have my own flavor of introversion, but I think other introverts might recognize themselves here. After being told to just be more extroverted numerous times over the course of our lives, it is important to be reminded of our strengths as introverts.
Have you ever started chatting with someone and you just felt, heard? Like, really heard? That person was probably an introvert. Despite the common myth that introverts don’t like people, introverts care deeply about their fellow humans and want to connect with them. Just not all at once and at big social engagements. Introverts are curious about the inner lives of others and will often listen intently, if something meaningful is being shared. If, however, you’re just trying to one up them or sell them something? Good luck.
Picking up on social cues that others don’t see
Introverts absorb a lot of information around them. Our nervous systems are wired to take in all kinds of subtle and not so subtle cues around us. It’s one of the reasons introverts don’t need or want a lot of outside stimulation. There’s already a lot going on. This may be unsettling to people who can’t imagine there are things going on around them that they can’t pick up on. Surprise! There are. And introverts know about it.
Here’s the thing, though. Introverts often think that what they experience is obvious to everyone else. SO THEY DON’T SAY ANYTHING. Weird, right?
So, my fellow introverts, the next time you’re in that meeting and you want to say something but you think that it’s totally obvious and why would you speak up about something that’s totally obvious to everyone? Take a few moments to process the information (cause that's what we do) and then say it. It’s not always obvious. Really. And if it is, who cares? Trust that what you’re observing is totally worth speaking up about and you might just open other people to a new perspective. This is not about being extroverted. It’s about sharing your insights and giving voice to the questions that need to be asked.
Deep sense of morality and ethics
Introverts often have a lot of social rules that they abide by in their daily lives. Most introverts hate interrupting people. It feels extremely rude. Many introverts will do anything to avoid having to talk about their accomplishments and will usually downplay their successes. This is not because we don’t want to move forward in our careers, but simply because it feels really uncomfortable to put ourselves above others in a competitive environment. It feels downright wrong.
At the heart of this is a deep sense of right and wrong. Introverts care deeply about social harmony. This is a good thing! Want a trustworthy friend or employee? Look for an introvert. This is not to say that all introverts are perfect or that introverts won’t do bad things. We are only human, after all. But, for the most part, we have a finely tuned moral compass that can annoy the hell out of other people sometimes.
Okay, I can hear the voices now…but what about us extroverts? We’re not bad people! We have these qualities sometimes, too! Yes, yes, we know. Relax little exies. Remember, this is not about you. Contributing our introverted voices and strengths does not mean extroverts are somehow cancelled out. This is not a zero-sum game. We can ALL contribute and enrich the conversation. We need each other. That is the point. And introverts need to know that they are needed and that what’s been wrongly attributed as weakness in our aggressive society is actually our deepest strength and offering.
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(What I'm listening to right now: Rosalía — De Plata)