I’ve been reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and it has impacted me profoundly. I will be doing a review of this book in a future blog post. But, today I wanted to write about the common mis-perceptions that people seem to have about introverts. Being one myself, I have experienced many of these impressions that people have of us.
1. Introverts aren’t funny. I was talking to someone the other day who is dating an introvert and she was retelling the story of when she first realized that he was funny. She seemed surprised by it. However, many introverts are funny. Actually, some of the funniest people I know are introverts. Mostly because they do it subtly and under their breaths and with a level of dryness that pauses you to stop and think about the joke a little deeper.
2. Introverts are shy. This is covered at length in Susan’s book, but I find that the two words tend to go together quite often. I do not consider myself to be shy. In fact, I enjoy social situations and making new friends. For some reason, people equate quietness with shyness. I am quiet, but I’m not shy.
3. Introverts have no friends. It takes a little more work for introverts to make friends. It usually has to do with the amount of time you have to spend investing in the relationship and the fact that introverts often hesitate at letting people on the inside of their world. Introverts are slow to make friends, but once their your friend, I would submit that they make some of the best and longest-lasting friends that one could have.
4. Introverts are always deep in thought about something. This is one that I hear all the time. And, yes, I often spend time thinking deeply about things. But there are an equal number of times where I am thinking about nothing – or I’m thinking about trivial or non-important things.
5. Introverts need be extroverts. I use to think this until recently. When someone would ask me if I’m an introvert, I would say yes as if they just asked me if I had a disease. I would work hard at being outgoing and would try to exhibit every extroverted behavior I could think of. But, being an introvert is not a disease or something to be ashamed of. It’s who I am. It’s how God wired me. And, I am successful as an introvert and I have a lot to offer just as I am.
6. Introverts cannot lead at high levels. Some would even submit that introverts cannot or should not lead at all. Of course this isn’t true and no one would say that it’s because they are an introvert. But, if introverts truly embody the mis-perceptions that I’ve just outlined, then they would make terrible leaders. The truth is that many of our most successful leaders are introverts. Just like any other leader, introverts must work at it and learn how to embrace their strengths while surrounding themselves with people that make up for their weaknesses.
I’m sure I’ve missed some here. But what do you think about this topic? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Have you ever been guilty of attributing some of these to an introvert that you know? Please comment below…