Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On being Introverted

Recently I overhead talk of taking out walls and making our space more open. It set me into a panic. I wasn't sure why, but it did. I already have a cubicle, but having even less privacy made me anxious. I talked to a wise friend about it who mentioned reading Quiet and how the author said open space work places were an introverts worse nightmare...

And that got me thinking. Am I an introvert? I can talk to almost anyone in a crowded room. I'm quite certain I could talk to a wall. I love to talk! But being in a crowded room is uncomfortable for me. I get high anxiety before going to a large event. I couldn't sleep the night before the Kenny Chesney concert. Or the Manchester United game. Or Phantom of the Opera. Large groups of people freak me out. Our monthly all staff meetings stress me out. Maybe I am an introvert after all?

So I took this quiz and sure enough I am an introvert:

I = Introvert. If you answered the majority of the questions true, you're probably an introvert.Given the choice, you'll devote your social energy to the people you care about most, preferring a glass of wine with a close friend to a party full of strangers. You think before you speak, and relish solitude. You feel energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity that really interests you. You have an active inner life, and are at your best when you tap into its riches.

Small, intimate dinners are my jam. One on one conversations energize me. I'm not a big risk taker. I loathe interruptions. I'm a homebody. I'm getting better at being a good listener. The only thing I had as false on my quiz was solitude. I really don't like being alone. But G will go in the basement and watch his sports and I'm completely content reading upstairs by myself. Does that count?

I'm telling you all this because it shed light on what energizes me and what doesn't. If you get anxious about something and you don't know why I hope this quiz helps you understand yourself a bit better. It's important to know what energizes you and what drains you. After I realized I was introverted I could better understand why I like privacy and my quiet time to do my work without interruptions so I wouldn't like no walls around me at all. So I shared all of this with a trusted colleague and friend that just so happens to also be part of the renovation of offices. She found this Ted Talk and it completely changed her renovation plans.

Actually, she got so on board that she is sharing this talk at our Lunch and Learn this Friday. How awesome is that?! It's a great talk! I was nodding my head along. Yes, I carry a  book with me all the time! G and I read together on our first day, for goodness sake. It's nice to be heard. It's even nicer when people get on board with what I'm saying. I didn't expect that, but I am fully embracing it!

I could quote the whole Ted Talk, but I won't. I will share this awesome exert though:

Introversion is more about, how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they're in quieter, more low-key environments.Not all the time -- these things aren't absolute -- but a lot of the time. So the key then to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.
4:40But now here's where the bias comes in. Our most important institutions, our schools and our workplaces, they are designed mostly for extroverts and for extroverts' need for lots of stimulation. And also we have this belief system right now that I call the new group think, which holds that all creativity and all productivity comes from a very oddly gregarious place. Now, most of us work in open plan offices, without walls, where we are subject to the constant noise and gaze of our coworkers. And when it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though introverts tend to be very careful, much less likely to take outsize risks -- which is something we might all favor nowadays...Stop the madness for constant group work. Just stop it. And I want to be clear about what I'm saying, because I deeply believe our offices should be encouraging casual, chatty cafe-style types of interactions -- you know, the kind where people come together and serendipitously have an exchange of ideas. That is great. It's great for introverts and it's great for extroverts. But we need much more privacy and much more freedom and much more autonomy at work. School, same thing. We need to be teaching kids to work together, for sure, but we also need to be teaching them how to work on their own. This is especially important for extroverted children too. They need to work on their own because that is where deep thought comes from in part.
17:28Amen!!!! I couldn't have said it better myself. So what are you? An introvert? An extrovert? Remember, though, that no one is all introvert or all extrovert. As the psychologist Carl Jung said, "'There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.'"

1 comment:

jennifer said...

As a true introvert, it sounds to me like you have social anxiety, not just being an introvert. I prefer to be by myself, but do not stress about most social situations- especially concerts where there will be no interaction with lots f people.