Since 1/3 to 1/2 of the population are introverts (and I’m 100% one of them) I feel we should talk about it. First off lets establish that an introvert isn’t someone who is “shy”. It comes down to one simple thing: stimulus. An introvert needs hardly any stimulus and an extrovert needs constant stimulus to stop them from falling asleep at their desk.
So how do you spot an extrovert?
An extrovert would be talking really loudly on their phone, whilst listening to the Foo Fighters (we can all hope), texting themselves on the other phone, and trying to give you a hug. (You get the idea). An introvert would be trying to avoid their gaze (and any body contact), and hoping they go away as quickly as possible.
In terms of a conversation between an introvert and extrovert:
Me (introvert): Yeah I spoke to Geoff, I think when you catch him on a bad day he can be a little difficult.
Dave (extrovert): That’s what I said, he’s a dickhead!
Introverts use more complex language, whilst extroverts are more direct.
So what does this all mean? Firstly, (as Susan Cain points out) all schools and work places are geared towards extroverts way of working. (open plan offices, pod desks) This doesn’t allow deep thought in which creative ideas are born.
Secondly, introverts can switch to become an extrovert for a short period of time. For example; I will do this blog and talk about it, or present at work. However, I will have to have a period in which I’m under-stimulated (sitting with my headphones in by myself). The only thing that allows me to do this is passion for what I believe in.
Some of the greatest leaders have all been introverts – Gandhi, Rosa Parks. They both have been noted to be softly spoken, but they fought for what they believed in. That’s what I feel makes an introvert as a valuable leader/manager/teacher.