No doubt in anyone’s mind, anyone who truly knows me, I am an extrovert personified. What that means is: give me something to do, give me more to do, give me even more to do, tell me to meet and greet with several groups in a short period of time, present me with a challenge of a life time, ask me to research ,etc and I will accept all this with open arms. For me it is stimulating, enriching, exhilarating, value added, and just plain reaching a “high.” Ask an introvert to accept all of the above and watch him/her retreat perhaps with anxiety. This isn’t saying that one is better being an extrovert or an introvert. Actually there are benefits within both types of behavior.
Many people are in job positions where they must be out in the public selling, reporting, making speeches, and facilitating. The extrovert will handle this with less anxiety than an introvert, not that one has more knowledge: it is the individual’s make up in behavior that dictates the comfort level.
But the show must go on. And so it does. The introvert can become overwhelmed by the activity in a room socially or during an organizational meeting being expected to come forth with a solution to a problem immediately. He/she needs thinking time to come forth with a valuable answer to the problem situation. The extrovert thrives in this environment. However, his/her answer may take less time and thus may not be as thoroughly thought out.
Susan Cain, in her book Quiet-The Power of Introverts, draws out the benefits of being an introvert even though in society most regard being an extrovert as more positive. Leaders of organizations must be attuned to the benefits from both types of individuals. Leaders themselves will find themselves in the position to relate to the many obstacles that their employees face.
I started this with me, the extrovert personified, and will end it with how I dealt with being overwhelmed and overdosed on the excitement that I looked for and accepted. “What would it be like to be an introvert?”, I thought. So I actually went to extremes. I booked a cruise, by myself, made arrangements to dine by myself and spent time being by myself. I shut myself off from what normally creates my happiness and excitement. I really had to work at being in the moment and less gregarious and definitely less talkative. I was discovering a new world: it was peaceful, relaxing, and afforded my mind to be creative without the usual foreground and background noise. On the next to last day of the cruise, the waiter walked me to a shared table. At first I wanted to say,” No I would rather be by myself”. But I didn’t. I actually had some anxiety about being back in my usual element since it had been several days where I had been living in a different world, so to speak. I took a deep breath and realized I hadn’t lost my step. I was back in my extroverted self, however this time, aware of the other people’s needs and conversational view points. I became a full-fledged listener and learned a lot. It really was a wonderful experience. I encourage you, who are one type or another, to try something different sometime. You will learn more about how you operate and how others around you view you, and what you have to say.