I’m an introvert. Those who have seen me in action at work or at the NFPW conference always challenge me when I say that. But it’s true. I’ve learned to function in many settings as an extrovert. I even enjoy it.
However, at the end of the day, I need to allow for quiet time, which is why at conferences I prefer to room alone and why I build time into the day for a peaceful walk in between meetings. These become my “restorative niches” as described in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
It’s a great book for understanding the value of introverts. For introverts, it offers ways to function successfully in a society that emphasizes group work.
Cain describes the difference between introverts and extroverts.
“Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”
In her book she describes how our culture emphasizes group work – from elementary school into the business world. My book club talked about how so many of our meetings are designed for leaders to think and work as a team, leaving no time for introverts to process. While I function in those settings, that point really resonated with me.
I’m making a conscious effort with my team to give the introverts time to think and to process big ideas before we come together to discuss. That means I have to be a bit more organized providing background materials in advance. At the end of the day, though, we arrive at a better product.
Ultimately, the book, which is filled with research and insights about introversion, makes a strong case for paying attention to the listeners and thinkers.