Introversion and extroversion are at the heart of human nature and yet depending on our comfort zone we unconsciously make judgments and place ourselves and each other in to wonderfully packaged boxes with beautifully designed descriptions of content. Extroverts may see introverts as unsociable and shy. Introverts may see extroverts as aggressive, egotistical and socially needy.
Who is to say who is right and who is wrong?
I have recently been speaking and running corporate training for leaders on networking and building a powerful network for YOU and more often than not over half the room will indicate “I can’t network, I so dislike it, I’m an introvert you know’.
The Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung said, “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in a lunatic asylum”. And yet many of us continue to label ourselves, and others, as existing at one or other extreme end of the spectrum and place judgment accordingly.
We have to learn to respect the natural disposition of self and others.
Embrace the introvert – in yourself and in others.
If this is you, be congruent with your natural state and stop faking it till you make it. Get out of your own way, get out of the corner and embrace your calm, measured and thoughtful approach and your ability to develop ideas independently and with reflection. Know it’s absolutely OK to want to be on your own, to turn down the invitation to that event and high five, with confidence, the fact you are a proud non-sufferer of FOMO. Own the value you bring to thinking, debate, conversation and idea generation.
If you are an individual that errs on the side of extroversion please don’t put the introvert in the corner. Embrace their preferences, get in to their space of comfort, be interested because they are very likely to add another dimension to your insight, to explore new opportunities and share possibilities with detailed thought.
Famous introverts have changed the world.
Gandhi changed the direction of an entire nation; Warren Buffet considered by some to be one of the most successful investors in the world has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes; Bill Gates is more comfortable with technology than people.
Darwin is celebrated for his inner curiosity.
Dr. Seuss is celebrated for his inner imagination.
And when Douglas Conant took over as president and CEO of Campbell’s Soup in 2001, he turned the business around bringing his unique leadership self to the fore. The company was at rock bottom with stock falling steeply, the culture he described as toxic and the team disengaged and dysfunctional. Conant did two things – first he walked the talk, aiming to clock up 10,000 steps a day walking the office and engaging with his team. Second, he chose to write more than 30,000 handwritten letters, up to 20 a day, to employees celebrating their successes and contribution.
Wherever you err on the introvert:extrovert scale, embrace the difference and the diversity of approach and thinking. Follow your energy. Connect in your way. Embrace the values that each brings to the conversation. Embrace YOU.
Famous introverts and extroverts have both disrupted the norm and changed the world.
Get out of the corner and be YOU because you and your opinions matter.