I used to feel ashamed when someone referred to me as an ‘introvert’.
Can you blame me? It seems like we live in a society where extroversion is encouraged and often considered more desirable than introversion. Growing up, my report cards always said, “Grace is very quiet in class and could speak up more.” I never understood why politely listening to the teacher and taking notes was considered negative until I was older and recognized the bias. The truth is, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I just had a different personality type than my outspoken classmates.
So what’s the difference between an introvert and an extrovert? Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung introduced the two terms in 1921 to describe how individuals respond to their outside world and get their energy. Typically, introverts enjoy time to themselves, are aware of their internal thoughts, and recharge more often in solitude. In contrast, extroverts enjoy large groups and are more outspoken and outgoing. A majority of people fall somewhere in the middle of these two personality types. Despite this, it’s common for introverted qualities to be seen as weaknesses when in reality, they can be strengths. Here’s why you should add introverts to your team:
They’re good listeners
Being a good listener is an invaluable skill to have. It’s key to relationship building, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and understanding in both our personal and professional lives. So while introverts might seem disengaged in a conversation, they’re actually focused on observing, learning, and active listening. When the moment feels right, they’ll chime in with well-thought-out feedback and ideas.
They’re deep thinkers
Introverts are known for thinking first and acting later. While this can be mistaken as painfully indecisive, it’s quite the opposite. They’re great problem solvers and will do their due diligence by researching and exploring different options instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Introverts prefer to think about their findings’ potential positive or negative outcomes to ensure they make the right decision the first time for everyone involved.
They’re creative and imaginative
Since introverts are deep thinkers with a strong connection to their inner world, they can be incredibly creative and imaginative. Some of the most famous artists, writers, and actors, such as Dr. Seus, Emma Watson, and Meryl Streep, have introverted personalities. Many believe this is because introverts do their best work in solitude, leaving them less likely to follow established norms and be more open to seeing, hearing, and interpreting things differently.
Introverts are comfortable being alone, meaning personal and professional independence comes naturally. With this comes a strong sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and perseverance. With these qualities, introverts can be trusted to do great work independently without the need for external motivation or constant check-ins. Basically, they’re a manager’s dream.
They’re great leaders
Finally, you may be surprised to learn that introverts make great leaders. That’s right, people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg all prove that you don’t need to be extroverted to lead effectively. Combined with the qualities above, introverts’ ability to concentrate amid chaos and focus on quality, productivity, and their team’s needs without getting sidetracked makes them great for this role.
So while extroverts have many great qualities, you can’t afford to overlook what introverts bring to the table. To all my fellow introverts out there, I hope this post motivates and inspires you to be proud and embrace these strengths.
If you’re unsure of where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale, take this quiz to find out.