The Extroversion Dilemma

46

Photo taken by the author; stunning, reflective rays on
Wood Lake in Lake Country, B.C. 

“Introverts think carefully before they speak. We can be excellent public speakers because we prepare carefully.”

– Sophia Dembling

In today’s world, extroverts are more highly praised, regarded, and given ample amounts of time to speak whatever is on their minds.

Author Anaïs Nin has been quoted as saying, “Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.” (1)

It seems the current communication race is almost always won by those who can speak the most eloquently, present words and ideas with the clearest emotive force and persuasion, and of course talk the fastest, loudest, or quickest.

It’s like survival of the fittest – for public discourse.

After all, during conversations those who can speak the quickest often have the floor for the longest periods of time.

How frustrating it can be to listen to the sound of someone’s voice for an extended period of time.

Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, has this to say about our extroverted world:

“Introverts living under the Extroversion Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.” (2)

This shouldn’t be the measuring stick or the barometer for communication, by any means.

Introverts, on the other hand, are known for their deep thoughts, reflective thinking, and multi-angled approach to any given topic or situation.

They have no problem taking a few extra minutes to reflect upon the issue at hand and toss it around in their heads from every possible angle, before arriving at a conclusion to be shared.

The word here is thoughtful.

Introverts are incredibly thoughtful people due to their innate skill in putting thought into the thoughts they want to thoughtfully communicate.

Another quote from Susan Cain on the point of introverts being thoughtful individuals:

“We don’t ask why God chose as his prophet a stutterer with a public speaking phobia. But we should. The book of Exodus is short on explication, but its stories suggest that introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.” (3)

When given the opportunity to speak it often surprises people at the clarity and insight these types of people bring to the table – when given the chance to speak.

To debunk the notion that extroverts have the upper hand in conversations Cain writes, “there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.” (4)

She goes on to say, “Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.” (5)

Oftentimes, introverts are viewed as “thinking too much” or “stuck in their head”. These are myths that have been unduly projected onto us thoughtful types.

As Cain rightly says,“[t]here is a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’ – thinkers.” (6)

Notes:

(1) Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2012), 264.

(2) Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 4.

(3) Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 61.

(4) Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 5.

(5) Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 255.

(6) “The Quiet Revolution Manifesto,” last modified 2015, http://www.quietrev.com/manifesto/.

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