So, I was in the doctor's office and thumbing through the magazines when I found this month's Psychology Today. I'm usually not a fan of Psychology Today as I find it to be a pop-psychology mag. But every now and then I find an article that catches my eye.
Revenge of the Introvert caught my attention as I am a myself am an introvert who often struggles in an extraverted world. Perhaps it sounds like I'm throwing myself a little pity party but the differences between introverted personalities and extraverted personalities are vast.
As I read the article I found myself wanting to pass it along to others. Partly because I find the study of personality types to be fascinating and also because I think that introverts are often misunderstood.
Here's my opportunity to say a few things about introverts that might shed some light for extraverts.
I think one of the most common misconceptions of introverts is that we are all shy. Anyone can be shy regardless of personality type. Social interaction is important to introverts but it is limited. Introverted Socialites
Speaking for myself I can say that I enjoy socializing but I feel most comfortable with one on one interactions. I feel more satisfied with meaningful conversations and don't do as well with small talk.
It's all about energy. Extraverts feed off of group settings however group settings often overstimulate introverts. I can enjoy a party but I'll probably leave earlier than my extroverted friends.
According to Revenge of the Introvert, "It's often possible to spot introverts by their conversational style. They're the ones doing the listening. Extraverts are more likely to pepper people with questions. Introverts like to think before responding—many prefer to think out what they want to say in advance—and seek facts before expressing opinions. Extraverts are comfortable thinking as they speak. Introverts prefer slow-paced interactions that allow room for thought. Brainstorming does not work for them. Email does."
Introverts in the Work Place
I work in a psychiatric hospital and find comfort in working one on one with my patients. I've noticed throughout the various jobs that I've had that extraverted workers feel energized when conducting field work or brainstorming on projects.
As an introvert I have difficulty with brainstorming. Introverts don't think out loud as extraverts often do. Introverted minds need time to think over concepts.
I notice in weekly staff meetings that co-workers often have lots to say. I often fear that I appear uninterested but that couldn't be father from the truth. Introverts like to observe and soak in information. I am very present when I attend a staff meeting but I do not always feel the need to voice my opinions, especially if similar sentiments have already been expressed by others.
I recognize that in the work place introversion could actually prove to be a hindrance. In many work and social settings I've felt pressure to push my personality further than what is naturally comfortable.
Revenge of the Introvert reports, "the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test administered to two randomized national samples, introverts make up 50 percent of the U.S. population. The MBTI definition of introversion—a preference for solitude, reflection, internal exploration of ideas vs. active engagement and pursuit of rewards in the external/social world—correlates closely with the Big Five description. But the results still surprise; if every other person is an introvert, why doesn't the cultural tone reflect that?
It's not just that we overestimate the numbers of extraverts in our midst because they're more salient. The bias of individuals is reinforced in the media, which emphasize the visual, the talkative, and the sound bite— immediacy over reflection."
Introverts are actually great communicators but we do not communicate with the same energy of extraverts. We are great listeners and when we do speak we often provide insightful questions. In group settings we may fall silent but we can hear ourselves think as we remain silent. Introverts and Happiness
"In the united states, people rank happiness as their most important goal. That view has a special impact on introverts. Happiness is not always their top priority; they don't need external rewards to keep their brains in high gear. In fact, the pursuit of happiness may represent another personality-culture clash for them." The Complexity of Introverts
"Even a simple opener of "Hello, how are you? Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you about X," from anyone can challenge an introvert. Rather than bypassing the first question or interrupting the flow to answer it, the introvert holds onto the question: Hmm, how am I? (An internal dialogue begins, in which the introvert "hears" herself talking internally as the other person speaks.)
Even if the introvert responds, "I'm good," she's probably still reflecting on how she is: Good? That's not quite right. I really have had a pretty crummy day, but there isn't a quick way to explain that. She wants to first work out privately her thoughts and judgment about the day. She also may evaluate the question itself: I hate that we so often just say 'good' because that's the convention. The other person doesn't really want to know. She may even activate memories of how the question has struck her in the past.
While the introvert is evaluating the question on at least two levels (how she is feeling and what she thinks about the question, perhaps also what this says about our society), the speaker is already moving on to sharing something about his day. The introvert must take the incoming message from the speaker and tuck it into working memory until she can get to it, while more information keeps flowing in that demands tracking, sorting, searching, and critical analysis.
The cognitive load becomes increasingly difficult to manage, as the internal talk competes with the external conversation. Moreover, while trying to keep the conversation going, introverts may miss social cues, which can make them appear socially inept. The conversation is also anxiety-provoking, because the introvert feels she has too little time to share a complete thought. She hungers to pull away and give time to the thoughts her brain has generated."
What Not To Say To An Introvert
From Revenge of the Introvert Introverts, those quiet creatures that walk among you, are not as mild-mannered as made out to be. They seethe and even will lash out at those who encroach upon or malign their personal comfort zones. Here are a few emotional buttons to avoid with your introverted companions.
"'Why don't you like parties? Don't you like people?' is a common remark introverts hear," says Marti Laney, a psychologist and the author of The Introvert Advantage. "Usually we like people fine," she insists. "We just like them in small doses." Cocktail parties can be deadly. "We're social but it's a different type of socializing."
"Surprise, we've decided to bring the family and stay with you for the weekend." Anyone anywhere on the -vert spectrum could find such a declaration objectionable, but it's more likely to bring an introvert to a boil, according to Nancy Ancowitz. Introverts count on their downtime to rejuvenate their resources; an extended presence in their homes robs them of that respite.
Don't demand immediate feedback from an introvert. "Extraverts think we have answers but just aren't giving them," Laney says. "They don't understand we need time to formulate them" and often won't talk until a thought is suitably polished.
Don't ask introverts why they're not contributing in meetings. If you're holding a brainstorming session, let the introvert prepare, or encourage him to follow up with his contributions afterward.
Don't interrupt if an introvert does get to talking. Listen closely. "Being overlooked is a really big issue for introverts," Laney says. Introverts are unlikely to repeat themselves; they will not risk making the same mistake twice.
Above all, "we hate people telling us how we can be more extraverted, as if that's the desired state," says Beth Buelow, a life and leadership coach for introverts. Many introverts are happy with the way they are. And if you're not, that's your problem.—Matthew Hutson
I first learned of the song Dump The Bosses Off Your Back when I heard Utah Phillips sing it. Utah was an anarchist, activist, folk singer, storyteller and supporter of the IWW aka Industrial Workers of the World Union (and so much more).
Utah was a song, poem and story collector and over the years I have collected his recordings. I find significance in his work as he spoke for the people and encouraged others to do so as well.
Dump the Bosses is a union workers song and Utah sang it with gusto and heart. I feel lucky to have come across this version. Ani Difranco sings it here. She and Utah collaborated in the past and I feel that she carries on the spirit of his work.
DUMP THE BOSSES OFF YOUR BACK John Brill 1916
Are you poor, forlorn and hungry? Are there lots of things you lack ? Is your life made up of misery? Then dump the bosses off your back. Are your clothes all patched and tattered? Are you living in a shack ? Would you have your troubles scattered? Then dump the bosses off your back.
Are you almost split asunder? Loaded like a long-eared jack? Boob - why don't you buck like thunder, And dump the bosses off your back? All the agonies you suffer You can end with one good whack Stiffen up, you orn'ry duffer And dump the bosses off your back.
Utah Phillips - "Dump the Bosses Off Our Backs" at the Vancouver Folk Festival
I believe story telling is an art form and blogging is a medium in which to share stories and ideas. Within this blog I hope to cover a spectrum of topics. From the serious to the silly. Here you will read my views and inquiries about subjects such as feminism, other various socio-political issues, psychology, spirituality, sexuality, and general interests such as film, art and music. You will also be exposed to my obsession with cupcakes, tea, books, Hello Kitty, and quirky day to day journeys. I enjoy learning from others as I am constantly attempting to introspect, grow and evolve. During this process I will be jotting down musings on this blog. Pull up a comfy chair and a spot of tea and join me!