We love labels.
Labels tell us what’s in the box or under the hood. Once we slap a word or a term on something it becomes easily identifiable. We’re all guilty of trying to force-fit people into predefined boxes that don’t allow for the entirety of human nature. People are rarely 100 percent this or 100 percent that. In general, we all fall along a range. But labels don’t reflect that.
Then there’s the cultural element of it all. We live in an extrovert’s world. There’s no doubt about it. From the time we are born, we are taught to aspire to be outspoken, to shine in a group, to outperform others… In a world that is designed for and by extroverts, introverts often see themselves as misfits, as though something is wrong with them, that they’re less than ideal. And this conditioning starts early in our lives.
But here's a secret. Being an introvert is probably the best thing to happen to you. Extroverts are not better than introverts, they’re just different. Extroverts shine in some ways and introverts in others. It’s time to stop assuming that introverts are less than or that they’re not equal. It’s time to change the rules of the game. A third of the world’s population is made up of introverts and there’s nothing “wrong” with us. Here’s why.
The Benefits of Introversion
In a world that is noisy, people find that they need to turn down the noise in order to hear themselves think. This might manifest itself in us deleting social media apps from our phones. Or even turning off notifications during particular hours, getting off social media entirely or checking our email only once a day. For introverts, the ability to create a noise-free space comes naturally. It is something that they must have to thrive. The practice of solitude is innate to the introvert personality.
This means that introverts give themselves time and space to reflect and assimilate; two highly desired traits that we need in this unbalanced world. Introverts aren’t just parroting opinions that they’ve heard from others. They are voicing deep personal thoughts that have been weighed and dissected thoroughly, and are probably different from someone else’s opinion. This makes an introvert’s opinion unique and powerful.
: The ability to think deeply often results in creative solutions that would have otherwise been unexplored. Often our best work is done in isolation. Writers escape to mountainside cabins to write their next bestseller, analysts hole themselves up in coffee shops and turn off their phones to get that uninterrupted time to think through a problem, and managers come in early or stay late in an empty office to iron out details of their plans. It is hard to be creative in a group setting. Introverts know this and have already mastered the art of thinking creatively on their own.
: Another benefit of spending time in solitude is that introverts are more in tune with themselves, their desires, their thoughts, and their fears. Introverts are often extremely self-aware. They remain true to themselves and learn to emphasize the bits that they like about themselves. Introverts tend to have a unique point of view, because of their deep insights and self-expression.
: Introverts are fairly autonomous and independent. They don’t need to surround themselves with a large group of friends. Introverts are happier by themselves and this ensures that when they do hang out with people it is because they value them. Introverts, by nature, are better listeners and are more observant which enriches their relationships.
: Introverts are slow to speak. They rarely speak about a subject or topic they know little about. They spend much of their time taking in their environment and observing. This ensures that every time an introvert says something, it is highly valuable and carries enormous weight.
A more informed judge of character
: Introverts spend a lot of time observing people and situations. They rarely insert themselves into a situation unless necessary. The introvert probably notices little things that are overlooked by others. For example, imagine a professional situation where a taciturn CEO is being facilitated by a particularly exuberant manager with much fanfare. The introvert probably noticed the grimace on the CEO’s face that everyone else missed. Adding this titbit of information to her already burgeoning folder of notes about the CEO, the introvert has access to an unparalleled in-depth understanding of the CEO’s personality that others don’t. Introverts, while they may not always be accurate in their assessments, they certainly have well-informed opinions.
The list of benefits is long and extensive. Several famous and notable personalities are introverts including Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffet, Andrea Jung, Mahatma Gandhi, Steven Spielberg, and Abraham Lincoln.
In short, introversion is not a disease that needs an antidote but is something to be celebrated. And no, introverts are not inferior to extroverts, they’re just different. The very word “introverts” musters up all kinds of negativity, but that must change and change begins with us. If we want the world to take us seriously as introverts, we must first take ourselves seriously and wear our uniqueness with pride. So, rise and go forth, fellow introverts! May your unique light shine in this world. We need you. So, go on and be the best introvert-version of yourself that you can be!
Author: Johncey George
Johncey George is an International Coach Federation certified Leadership and Life Coach. He also focuses on coaching introverts and is India’s leading Leadership Coach for Introverts. He helps them celebrate their strengths and become successful as leaders. Being an introvert himself, he understands their thinking process. He combines this knowledge, his corporate leadership experience and his coaching experience to help create more leaders among the Introverts.
Johncey has 23 years of corporate leadership experience and done his BE and Management Education from IIM Bangalore, Harvard Business School, ISB Hyderabad.
His company, Johncey George Consulting Pvt Ltd, does Leadership Development through Coaching, under the brand Coach Johncey (www.coachjohncey.com
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.