Power of Introverts and Introversion

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11th Sep 2017 Psychology Reference this

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The Examination of the Power of Introverts and Introversion

Nowadays, we often meet someone who needs hours alone every day; who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a wonderful presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk; who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to refresh. People will tell this kind of individuals is “too serious” or “so mellow”, and ask them if they are okay? In these situations, chances are that we have an introvert on our hands.

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When people discuss introverts and extroverts, the initial and basic knowledge people need is the meaning of introversion and extroversion. The trait of introversion and extraversion is a central dimension of human personality theories. So, what is personality? Describing and summarizing characters of people surrounding us is something we all do in everyday life. Words like ‘aloof’, ‘arrogant’, and ‘outgoing’ are typically used. In the psychological field, however, these words are meaningless and inappropriate to generalize an individual’s personality. There is yet no proper definition of personality. Separately studying psychological processes such as perception, thinking, motivation and emotions make it very difficult to describe the person as a whole. The concept of personality attempts to encompass all the different psychological processes and present a coherent picture of the individual’s characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. (Malim and Birch, 2015:705). The terms introversion and extroversion were popularized by Carl Jung.  Typical extraverts are sociable, thrive on human company, frequently seek exciting activities and are willing to take risks. They are impulsive, restless, optimistic and not always reliable, whereas introverts are typically more serious and reserved individuals who prefer solitary activities to people. They are more cautious, pessimistic, orderly and restrained (Malim and Birch, 2015:711). However, there are still kinds of bias between introverts and extroverts even we all know well that we need respect every individual without judges.

A common misconception of introverts is the relationship between shyness and introversion. Shyness is about the fear of social judgments, feeling anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings. For example, at a job interview or a party we might be excessively worried about what people think of us. Whereas an introvert might not feel any of those things at all, they simply have the preference to be in a quieter setting. Many introverts feel like actors when socializing. Being an introvert is not the same as being shy or a loner. Additionally, being an introvert does not necessarily mean disliking social interaction, Mazarura (2017), an English and creative writing student at the University of Surrey, says, ‘Introversion and extroversion aren’t binary. It’s a spectrum – some people fall more to one side than the other. Many introverts thrive in areas often associated with extroversion such as public speaking and leadership.’ Studies also have shown that behavioural markers for introversion/extraversion can be reliably detected as early as 4-months of age (Yee, 2015). Dopamine levels and the structure of dopamine receptors underlie this temperament difference between introverts and extraverts (Stelmack). When introverts are pushed over their comfortable level of arousal, they have to bring in additional mental resources to filter out or handle the overload. This causes fatigue, and over time, they learn to avoid situations that lead to this. Extraverts are the opposite. They need environmental stimulation just to be at their optimal arousal.

Comparing to extroverts, introverts are more oppressed, even in the present society. Introverts frequently leave people the initial impression of the words such as misanthropic, aloof and arrogant, which was the most common misconception as well, I suppose. The worst of it is extroverts often think introverts are just completely weird. “Society often overlooks introverts … we’re all supposed to be quick thinking, charismatic risk takers who prefer action to contemplation.” As Cain says, being an introvert imposes “the pressure to be rowdy”. For one thing, introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics. Look at Bill Clinton. Look at Donald Trump. So when it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over these politic positions, even though introverts are much more careful, and much less possibilities to take outsize risks (Cain, 2012). An interesting research by Grant (2011) has found that introverted leaders often achieve better outcomes than extroverts do, because when they are much more likely to let proactive employees run with their ideas, whereas extroverted leaders are more likely to get excited about making decisions by themselves, which leads to other people’s ideas might not easily bubble up to the surface. Extroverts are not only overrepresented in politics, but dominate public life. Let us think from another perspective, imagine the world ran by introverts, I would have to say, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Calvin Coolidge has said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” So, there are a third to a half of the population are introverts over the world. If introverts subject to these bias so deeply that cannot do what they do best, and others internalize it without even having a language for what they are doing, it will be our future’s loss, the colleagues’ loss, and our communities’ loss.

In addition, sometimes, people will be confused and struggled with a question “Am I an extrovert or introvert?” To this question, even Carl Jung, the psychologist who first popularized these terms, said that there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. Some people stand in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, and we call these people ambiverts. Adam Grant did an analysis of 35 separate studies and found that it is not true that extroverts are the best sales, the best leaders and are the most successful at work, in another words, the statistical relationship between extroversion and income was basically zero. He conducted a personality survey and collected three-month sales records for more than 300 salespeople, both male and female. The people who ranked right in the middle for extraversion and introversion which is named ambiverts turned out to be the best salespeople. “The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant (2011) said.

So, how can we use the power of introversion? Firstly, let us think about our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces. At present, the typical classroom has pods of desks, students sitting in a way facing each other, and they are organised to work in countless group assignments, even in subjects like mathematics and creative writing, which need children think and struggle more independently though. Our children today are more expected to grow up being an extroverts and act as committee members. The same situation happens in our workplaces. Now, most of us work in open plan offices, without walls, where we have to be subject to the constant noise and gaze of our colleagues (Cain, 2012). Then, let us think about what the students and the colleagues who prefer to work alone in a quiet atmosphere should do. We are talking about a better balance culturally instead of suggesting stop collaborating. We have to confirm that solitude is especially important when it comes to creativity and to productivity. When psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people, what they find are people who even are good at exchanging ideas, but who also have a serious trait of introversion in them. Just as Cain (2012) says,’ the more freedom that we give introverts to be themselves, the more likely that they are to come up with their own unique solutions to these problems.’

To sum up, the world needs introverts as important as extroverts. When we encourage casual interactions in our workplaces and have small talks with friends or neighbour, we should envisage the existence of introversion and respect every introverts instead of forcing and exacting people, especially introverts acting sociably. We need much more privacy and much more freedom and much more autonomy not only at work, but also at school. We certainly need to be teaching students to work together, but we also need to teach them how to work individually. This is especially important for extroverted children too. They need to work on their own because that is where deep thoughts come from. For extroverts, get inside their own heads a little more often; for introverts, be themselves and be sure that the world needs them and it needs the power they carry.

References

Cain, S., TED. (2012, February). Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts/transcript?language=en#t-1007000

Grant, Gino, and Hofmann, A. M., F., and D. A., 2011, ‘Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: the Role of Employee Proactivity’, Academy of Management Journal, 54: 528-550

Malim and Birch, T. and A., 1998, Introductory Psychology, London, Palgrave.

Mazarura, R., 2017, My Advice for Other Introverts Starting Uni [Online], the Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/26/my-advice-for-other-introverts-starting-uni. [Accessed on: 31th Mar 2017]

Stelmack, R.M., 2004, On the Psychobiology of Personality: Essays in Honor of Marvin Zuckerman, Oxford, Elsevier Ltd.

Yee, N., 2015, What Makes Introverts Introverted? [Online], Quora. Available at https://www.quora.com/What-makes-introverts-introverted. [Accessed on: 31th Mar 2017]

The Examination of the Power of Introverts and Introversion

Nowadays, we often meet someone who needs hours alone every day; who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a wonderful presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk; who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to refresh. People will tell this kind of individuals is “too serious” or “so mellow”, and ask them if they are okay? In these situations, chances are that we have an introvert on our hands.

When people discuss introverts and extroverts, the initial and basic knowledge people need is the meaning of introversion and extroversion. The trait of introversion and extraversion is a central dimension of human personality theories. So, what is personality? Describing and summarizing characters of people surrounding us is something we all do in everyday life. Words like ‘aloof’, ‘arrogant’, and ‘outgoing’ are typically used. In the psychological field, however, these words are meaningless and inappropriate to generalize an individual’s personality. There is yet no proper definition of personality. Separately studying psychological processes such as perception, thinking, motivation and emotions make it very difficult to describe the person as a whole. The concept of personality attempts to encompass all the different psychological processes and present a coherent picture of the individual’s characteristic ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. (Malim and Birch, 2015:705). The terms introversion and extroversion were popularized by Carl Jung.  Typical extraverts are sociable, thrive on human company, frequently seek exciting activities and are willing to take risks. They are impulsive, restless, optimistic and not always reliable, whereas introverts are typically more serious and reserved individuals who prefer solitary activities to people. They are more cautious, pessimistic, orderly and restrained (Malim and Birch, 2015:711). However, there are still kinds of bias between introverts and extroverts even we all know well that we need respect every individual without judges.

A common misconception of introverts is the relationship between shyness and introversion. Shyness is about the fear of social judgments, feeling anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings. For example, at a job interview or a party we might be excessively worried about what people think of us. Whereas an introvert might not feel any of those things at all, they simply have the preference to be in a quieter setting. Many introverts feel like actors when socializing. Being an introvert is not the same as being shy or a loner. Additionally, being an introvert does not necessarily mean disliking social interaction, Mazarura (2017), an English and creative writing student at the University of Surrey, says, ‘Introversion and extroversion aren’t binary. It’s a spectrum – some people fall more to one side than the other. Many introverts thrive in areas often associated with extroversion such as public speaking and leadership.’ Studies also have shown that behavioural markers for introversion/extraversion can be reliably detected as early as 4-months of age (Yee, 2015). Dopamine levels and the structure of dopamine receptors underlie this temperament difference between introverts and extraverts (Stelmack). When introverts are pushed over their comfortable level of arousal, they have to bring in additional mental resources to filter out or handle the overload. This causes fatigue, and over time, they learn to avoid situations that lead to this. Extraverts are the opposite. They need environmental stimulation just to be at their optimal arousal.

Comparing to extroverts, introverts are more oppressed, even in the present society. Introverts frequently leave people the initial impression of the words such as misanthropic, aloof and arrogant, which was the most common misconception as well, I suppose. The worst of it is extroverts often think introverts are just completely weird. “Society often overlooks introverts … we’re all supposed to be quick thinking, charismatic risk takers who prefer action to contemplation.” As Cain says, being an introvert imposes “the pressure to be rowdy”. For one thing, introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics. Look at Bill Clinton. Look at Donald Trump. So when it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over these politic positions, even though introverts are much more careful, and much less possibilities to take outsize risks (Cain, 2012). An interesting research by Grant (2011) has found that introverted leaders often achieve better outcomes than extroverts do, because when they are much more likely to let proactive employees run with their ideas, whereas extroverted leaders are more likely to get excited about making decisions by themselves, which leads to other people’s ideas might not easily bubble up to the surface. Extroverts are not only overrepresented in politics, but dominate public life. Let us think from another perspective, imagine the world ran by introverts, I would have to say, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Calvin Coolidge has said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” So, there are a third to a half of the population are introverts over the world. If introverts subject to these bias so deeply that cannot do what they do best, and others internalize it without even having a language for what they are doing, it will be our future’s loss, the colleagues’ loss, and our communities’ loss.

In addition, sometimes, people will be confused and struggled with a question “Am I an extrovert or introvert?” To this question, even Carl Jung, the psychologist who first popularized these terms, said that there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. Some people stand in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, and we call these people ambiverts. Adam Grant did an analysis of 35 separate studies and found that it is not true that extroverts are the best sales, the best leaders and are the most successful at work, in another words, the statistical relationship between extroversion and income was basically zero. He conducted a personality survey and collected three-month sales records for more than 300 salespeople, both male and female. The people who ranked right in the middle for extraversion and introversion which is named ambiverts turned out to be the best salespeople. “The ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic enough to persuade and close, but at the same time, listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overly confident or excited,” Grant (2011) said.

So, how can we use the power of introversion? Firstly, let us think about our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces. At present, the typical classroom has pods of desks, students sitting in a way facing each other, and they are organised to work in countless group assignments, even in subjects like mathematics and creative writing, which need children think and struggle more independently though. Our children today are more expected to grow up being an extroverts and act as committee members. The same situation happens in our workplaces. Now, most of us work in open plan offices, without walls, where we have to be subject to the constant noise and gaze of our colleagues (Cain, 2012). Then, let us think about what the students and the colleagues who prefer to work alone in a quiet atmosphere should do. We are talking about a better balance culturally instead of suggesting stop collaborating. We have to confirm that solitude is especially important when it comes to creativity and to productivity. When psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people, what they find are people who even are good at exchanging ideas, but who also have a serious trait of introversion in them. Just as Cain (2012) says,’ the more freedom that we give introverts to be themselves, the more likely that they are to come up with their own unique solutions to these problems.’

To sum up, the world needs introverts as important as extroverts. When we encourage casual interactions in our workplaces and have small talks with friends or neighbour, we should envisage the existence of introversion and respect every introverts instead of forcing and exacting people, especially introverts acting sociably. We need much more privacy and much more freedom and much more autonomy not only at work, but also at school. We certainly need to be teaching students to work together, but we also need to teach them how to work individually. This is especially important for extroverted children too. They need to work on their own because that is where deep thoughts come from. For extroverts, get inside their own heads a little more often; for introverts, be themselves and be sure that the world needs them and it needs the power they carry.

References

Cain, S., TED. (2012, February). Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts/transcript?language=en#t-1007000

Grant, Gino, and Hofmann, A. M., F., and D. A., 2011, ‘Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: the Role of Employee Proactivity’, Academy of Management Journal, 54: 528-550

Malim and Birch, T. and A., 1998, Introductory Psychology, London, Palgrave.

Mazarura, R., 2017, My Advice for Other Introverts Starting Uni [Online], the Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/26/my-advice-for-other-introverts-starting-uni. [Accessed on: 31th Mar 2017]

Stelmack, R.M., 2004, On the Psychobiology of Personality: Essays in Honor of Marvin Zuckerman, Oxford, Elsevier Ltd.

Yee, N., 2015, What Makes Introverts Introverted? [Online], Quora. Available at https://www.quora.com/What-makes-introverts-introverted. [Accessed on: 31th Mar 2017]

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