The Rise of the Introvert
We live in a world that seems tailored to extroverts – a world, that is, where the ability to connect with others easily, persuade others convincingly, and flourish in social settings regularly is of enormous value. As a result, introverts – essentially people who recharge and find energy from more solitary and contemplative pursuits rather than by interacting with groups of others – often feel overlooked and undervalued.
Lately, however, more and more research shows that the world is changing and, with it, the value introverts may hold and influence they may exert in this new world. In particular, there is increasingly a great need for the chance to think creatively and deeply about complex and adaptive issues. In this kind of world, as Susan Cain suggests in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introverts may just rule.
Ultimately, however, Cain’s point isn’t that one personality trait is better than the other, but instead that the two need each other. As is often the case, in fact, both our creative thinking and our lives are improved by interacting with folks that think differently that we do – whether politically, religiously, culturally or, in this case, temperamentally.
While new research suggests that a typical population is usually evenly divided between introverts and extroverts (as opposed to initial reports – that turned out only to be guesses – that 75% of people were extroverts), chances are that if you’re reading this blog you are more likely to be an introvert. So I can say with relative confidence and complete good humor, “Introverts, cheer up, the world is suddenly your oyster!”
The great folks at RSA have offered a three-minute animated except of Susan’s longer presentation on introverts that I’ve placed below. If you’re interested in finding out whether you’re introverted or extroverted (along with a few other dimensions of your personality), you can take the Myers-Briggs personality indictor for free here.
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