Is There Anything Wrong with Us?

As a card carrying Introvert, I’m wondering what the big fuss is about preferring introversion. There are a plethora of self-help books, including those written by two of my well-respected contacts Anne Ancowitz, Self-Promotion for Introverts; and Jennifer Kahnwieler, The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength. These books are excellent reading and give us I’s the encouragement we purportedly need to succeed in the workforce; but I’m wondering are books like these necessary for the survival of I’s.

Where are the books for the E’s? There are certain undesirable traits these folks have that make succeeding in the workforce challenging, I’m sure. Yet E’s seem to have the upper hand over I’s. Let’s stop to consider some strengths the I’s demonstrate.

Experts tell us that Introverts prefer writing over talking, whereas Extraverts prefer talking over writing. I find this generalization offensive (I find all generalizations offensive). It implies that the I’s find it difficult to verbally communicate. Here’s what I tell my MBTI workshop attendees: I’s aren’t doomed to an existence of silence. We may find attending events crowded with strangers a bit uncomfortable; but we are witty, intelligent, and can talk up a storm when necessary. Afterwards we’ll need some time to recharge our batteries. The E’s are masters of small talk and working the room; but I wonder if they may talk too much.

The Introverts are excellent listeners. We give people time to talk and are earnestly interested in what they say. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being in the company of people who listen to me when I talk, people who value my thoughts. It hasn’t been said that the Extraverts are good listeners. Don’t get me wrong; anyone can modify their behavior to suit the situation. I recently talked with an E who said she works hard to let others talk—it takes effort on her part. I couldn’t help but thinking if she was listening to me while all along thinking about her next words.

Managers are trained to lead company meetings that include the Introverts in the discussion. They are told not to let the Extraverts dominate a meeting because the E’s have a tendency to talk frequently, often in order to formulate their thoughts and share their ideas. This is evident in the meetings I attend, where the E’s seem to talk just to hear themselves talk. Unfair accusation, I know. On the flipside, the I’s are accused of waiting too long before they make their contributions. This is the general consensus, which I think is pure malarkey. We simply don’t want to compete with the loudmouths that feel they deserve the stage. Nonetheless, managers are told to call on the I’s or, if need be, speak with them afterwards to get their points of view. I think it’s too late by then. Maybe it would be best to give the E’s their 5,000 words and let us I’s have our 2,000 words. That’s all we need.

We Introverts really appreciate the self-help books. We don’t feel insulted when well-meaning experts want to help us in the workplace and network for jobs. But I, for one, wonder if there are any good books on how the E’s can function better in the workplace. If you know of any, let me know. I’d be interested in reading one.

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