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Introverts and extroverts

A good proof of social networks being a complete waste of time is this Linkedin post about the struggles introverts face. Not only did I waste time reading it, but, on top of that, it inspired me to spend even more time thinking about that and then writing more drivel of my own. Thank you very much Linkedin!

Disclaimer: in this, like with most other posts on this blog, I will not give any useful information, nor advice whatsoever. Have no idea how to deal with introversion (and extreme extroversion for that matter). If you happen to have any constructive additions, feel free to share them in the comment section (comment posting rules).

1. Understanding the introverts

You should read the above linked post – it is good, really (why should I be the only one having wasted time on it?!). Well written and thought provoking (unlike this drivel). It talks about the problem introvert people have. Competent, proficient professionals that happen to not really enjoy talking with a lot of people all that much.

Some of my friends are like that: good human beings, worthy of spending the time with and fighting for their friendship (and business cooperation), but very exclusive about the number of people they interact with, and with the length and frequency of those interactions. A few have even turned to alcohol and drugs trying to ease the tension (of course, all of us Serbs are alcoholics, but the ones who quit drinking because it interfered with their daily functioning are the ones to look out for).

For people who are not introvert (extroverts, “normal” people 🙂 ), it is often a puzzle. Surely introverts often hear things like: “speak up”, “socialize more”, “be more outgoing” etc. For all I could understand, spending time and interacting with people, especially in a crowd and with strangers, is exhausting to introverts. Mentally exhausting, like digging a canal can be physically exhausting. Even if they know it’s good and smart to do, it’s not something they are looking forward to and it does sort of drain them. It is how they are.

Imagine forbidding an extrovert person to speak, or interact in any other way with anyone, for a day, or a few days. For introverts, I suppose socializing and communicating is somewhat similar, if not ever more taxing. They do enjoy socializing, but need more time to rest from it afterwards.

I’m an extrovert person – enjoy talking with people, joking, laughing. Yet, for a few months I got to manage a chaotic team in a chaotic company (few things worked and few people knew what their job was). Was having at least 50 phone calls a day and even more interactions with co-workers and clients. Coming home after work one day, I was so silent that my better half (“significant other”, “she who must be obeyed…”) asked me “what’s wrong?” Nothing was wrong – I had just had a lot more communication and socializing than I’m comfortable with on a daily basis. Needed to “unwind”, rest from it, just sitting silent, reading, or watching a YouTube video on medieval armor. For the introverts, even a “normal amount” of socialization is probably similarly exhausting and they need the time to recuperate from it.

Some people can’t understand, nor even accept that for a fact. When an introvert refrains from communication, it’s not necessarily anything related to you (surely your extrovert friends find you just as annoying) – it’s about them. No reason to get offended, even less reason to insist and “force” an introvert to socialize.

2. Problems and consequences of being introvert

Similarly to the first chapter, if not even more so, this is the part where Ray Charles talks about Pablo Picasso. Here’s my personal opinion, the way I’m able to understand and comprehend it.

World today, thanks to the Internet (where the Internet is going in my opinion), is a place where outer appearance and extroversion are appreciated. Introvert people (especially if they have no social network accounts) are often looked at suspiciously.

When it comes to finding friends (and spouses), introverts can surely use their “low tolerance” threshold to their advantage – not spending the time with anyone not really worth spending the time with. And friends, especially the long term ones, are usually an understanding bunch of people. Though I’m sure this too is sometimes not very easy for the introverts. But what about survival?

In any workplace, it helps a lot if you “have good social connections”. It does boil down to selling yourself (and your ideas, talents) – both to colleagues and clients. For any kind of advancement in a career, even for getting a job in the first place, it helps a lot if you are not silent and withdrawn. You can often hear stories about how women need to work a lot harder to be promoted, compared to men. Well, for the introverts, either male, or female, it’s a lot worse.

This isn’t just. Capitalism sucks in general – might write on that some time. No clue how an introvert can overcome this problem that does put its toll on their success in life. The advice given in the afore mentioned Likedin post by David Wee sounds very reasonable:

  1. Do PIN – Perform outstandingly. Image – Be remembered for my passion and the value I offer. Network – Grow relationships with people who’ll speak up for me.
  2. Say Hi. At all functions, I dressed smartly and engage at least three persons. I will introduce self, then I listen, share my passion and speak on areas beyond my pay grade.
  3. I speak. I accept speaking engagements. I am an excellent speaker because I am clear with what I want to say and say it clearly.

I’m sure this is far from easy for an introvert. The very first part: “grow relationships with people” – means spending time and interacting. Guess it boils down to choosing your friends even more cautiously and wisely.

For employers: if you have job positions where lots of interaction is not beneficial, it might be a good choice to hire an introvert. Making everyone happy.

Partnering an introvert with an extrovert can also be a very good thing, if the interpersonal chemistry is right. It is a good idea anyway to have at least two people competent for every position, in case of vacations, illness, traffic accidents, or one of the employees getting too drunk on a work day (as I often do).

Serbian team building
Serbian team building – if the image is blurry, you’re on the right track!

3. A few words on the extroverts

This website’s policy is to not be discriminatory – all the people suck equally (except maybe Nikola Jokić), so after discussing the introverts at great length, it’s time to deal with the more annoying opposite.

Extroverts can’t be really happy without a lot of interaction and socialization with other people. They generally tend to talk a lot more than the introverts. Which can often be nice, entertaining (especially to the non-introvert folks), and extroverts usually have a lot of good social connections. This is very helpful and useful in general.

However, depending on the culture one lives in, and/or the working environment, being too open and extrovert can also be detrimental. I’d say that it beats being withdrawn most of the time, but it’s not always good. Just like with introverts being more communicative, for the extroverts being less so can be taxing and frustrating. One can try to compensate, by spending more time with friends and perhaps writing a stupid blog like this one.

Still, just like when making a good football team, it’s best to find a position where one’s strengths and attributes are the most beneficial, not stay in one where you are working against yourself. Fortunately, many of the “top positions” are the ones requiring good communication skills. Unfortunately, most people are fighting for those positions. So for the extroverts too it can get tough, cruel and unjust. Though probably easier than it is for the introverts, that at least is my impression.

4. Conclusion

Introvert lawyer, extrovert system administrator, and Batman walk the street and see a 100 $ bill. Who’s going to pick it up? Batman, because introvert lawyers and extrovert system administrators don’t exist!

People are different. That needs to be understood and accepted. Try to understand other people’s perspective and point of view – even when dealing with extreme introverts, or extroverts. When it comes to one’s self: being aware of your own shortcomings and making a conscious effort to improve is certainly a good idea. So is playing to your own strengths and knowing what to avoid.

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