As a society, we tend to value and celebrate extroverts. With their big personalities and outgoing nature, they form quick and easy friendships and thrive in the spotlight. People who are more reserved are often underestimated because they exude less confidence. But what really matters is a person’s competence, not their conviction.
Extroversion is one of the Big Five personality traits. People with higher levels of extroversion tend to seek out social interaction and conversations, thrive in busy environments, express themselves easily and act more impulsively. Since introversion lies on the other end of the spectrum, it tends to have the opposite characteristics.
It’s important to understand that being quiet does not mean a person is submissive or less capable, it just means that they don’t need to be the centre of attention all the time. Quiet people do not lack social skills. In fact, they are often great listeners and communicators. They develop relationships based on trust and respect.
The Source of One’s Energy
Introversion and extraversion refer to how we tend to recharge our brains, whether our energy generally flows inward or outward. The brain of an introvert is stimulated by solidarity. Where extroverts have more activity in the sensory areas of the brain and therefore seek external stimulation through social activities, introverts tend to keep their energy and enthusiasm to themselves.
Extroverts get energy from social interactions because it gives them a jolt of dopamine, but too much socialising drains an introvert and can make them feel overstimulated. People with high extroversion gain energy by spending time with other people, while introverts gain energy through privately reflecting on their thoughts and feelings. However, this doesn’t mean they necessarily dislike interacting with other people.
Being an introvert also in no way hinders someone’s performance. You can have a large personality and still be an introvert – Elon Musk, Simon Sinek, Bill Gates, and Lady Gaga all fit that bill. In the workplace, one personality type isn’t better than the other either. It all depends on the job that needs doing and the traits necessary for success in a particular role.
Success and Leadership
Both extraverts and introverts can have a high aptitude for success when they are in the right environment, although more introverted people tend to be more interested in serious information rather than chit-chat and small talk. People with lower extroversion are often precise and detail-oriented. They depend less on encouragement, are logical leaders, and their ability to seriously focus on tasks leads to high effectiveness.
More introverted people can be excellent problem-solvers and complex thinkers. They are naturally analytical and spend time researching new information and finding better ways to do their job. They are also careful to express themselves accurately. They value their own boundaries and are therefore especially mindful of others.
A 2018 Yale study confirms that introverts may have the upper hand when it comes to leadership. Their strength lies in their ability to see the bigger picture in any circumstance. They are pragmatic and think before they act, which means they don’t make snap decisions.
In Susan Cain’s celebrated book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the author argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people, leading to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.”
Who has the Distinct Advantage?
Essentially, those who take their time to ensure they consider every possibility and understand the situation completely will be best prepared for anything that comes their way. Being loud doesn’t always mean being right. In a world filled with noise, being silent can be a much more effective tool for persuasion and influence.
A person who spends more of their time in their own head has had more time to introspect and deliberate. The more time you introspect, the better you know yourself. The better you know yourself, the better you know what to avoid and what to exploit. You learn your strengths and weaknesses, and those who understand themselves best tend to do best in life.
Using labels such as “introvert” and “extravert” assumes that people fall into distinct groups in the traits, but they rarely do. Carl Jung, who introduced the concepts back in 1923, said: “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”
Most people have both introverted and extroverted traits and can be either quiet or outspoken, depending on the situation. Those who have struck the perfect balance between introversion and extroversion are the ambiverts, who can flip into either depending on their mood, the context and their goals. Just as everyone is different on the extroversion scale, everyone’s definition of success is different. The person who comes out on top is the one who knows how to balance the advantages.