Category Archives: extrovert

“I’m Told My Listening is Intoxicating! “

I am so pleased that Pearl Alexander decided to speak from her heart and write this wonderful piece about her experience as an introverted HR leader. Called “Leveraging Diversity of Temperament,”  Pearl fully embraces who she is and calls for extroverts to let her speak. Continue reading

Take It In or Talk It Out?

I recently attended the show Harmony, a musical playing at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. I went  to this engaging show about a singing group in pre-WW II Germany alone and had a great date with myself. With no partner occupying the next seat, I had the chance to commune with my thoughts and feelings and check in with my experiences during the production. I felt totally in the moment and fully present with the unfolding love stories, Nazi encroachment and dicey group dynamics.  As I left the theater and transitioned to the outside world I actually found the audience chatter distracting.

I recommend the show to my friend Sean and he LOVED the play. In fact, he texted me about it during intermission and right after he left the theater to compare notes. Sean said that his introverted partner doesn’t like to talk out his reactions and that is frustrating for him. Why?  Because Sean is an extrovert and he needs to express himself and “text it out” to make sense of the experience.

I am sure I would enjoy going to a play with Sean.  It can be wonderfully enriching to connect with others  who can bring new light to the experience. However, there are times that absolutely nothing beats being alone.



Busting up the mythology

I am pleased that the door to introversion has swung wide open. Yet despite the rise of the introverts many misconceptions linger.  Some writers like  Margarita Tartakovsky, an eager Associate Editor are intent on clearing up some misconceptions about I’s and E’ and I was happy to oblige.

This week she wrote a nice piece called 7 Persistent Myths about Introverts and Extroverts and in between discussing hot tea remedies for a sore throat (which I had but not from discussing this topic) and Florida State (we both went there) we took on exploding some myths. For instance:

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Do Introverts Need to Act Like Extroverts to Be Happy?

The Wall Street Journal article How an Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like an Extrovert  hit the digital airwaves this Tuesday and two days later there are over a 110 comments and lots of buzz.

I do appreciate a controversial piece on introverts.  While some of the points about Dopamine and integrating more outgoing behaviors make sense I take issue with the basic premise that introverts need to act more “Type A” to be happy. Haven’t we asked them to do that enough? It is often the extrovert’s projection of what happiness means that lays a trip on introverts.

After interviews with hundreds of introverts I have found they make highly effective influencers when, instead of trying to act like extroverts they use their natural strengths to make a difference. These six strengths include taking quiet time, preparation, engaged listening, focused conversations, writing and a thoughtful use of social media. When they leverage these powers in the workplace they are not only more effective but also more satisfied.

One more note: several of the studies cited here have very small samples and may have little widespread relevance.

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Do Extroverts Pay More Attention to Faces?

A new study thinks so. In a paper presented at the American Psychological Association this month, Brains of Introverts Reveal Why They Prefer Being Alone a research team from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, California conducted an intriguing study. Here are  some excerpts from a write up in Live Science:

“They used a method known as the “oddball task” in which subjects see a series of very similar images, such as a bunch of blue cars, and then all of a sudden, a slightly different image appears, such as a red car. In the current experiment, subjects saw a series of male faces and every so often a female face appeared. They were also shown pictures of purple flowers interspersed with pictures of yellow ones.

Electrodes placed on the subjects’ scalps recorded the electrical activity in their brains, a technique known as electroencephalography, or EEG. The researchers studied a particular change in the brain’s electrical activity known as P300.

The higher subjects had scored on a test for extroversion, the greater their P300 response was to human faces. In other words, extroverts pay more attention to human faces (P300 can be seen as an indicator of human attention, or how fast their brains’ noticed that something has changed.) There was no link between scores on extroversion and the P300 response to flowers. Introverts had very similar P300 responses to both human faces and to flowers.”

“They (Introverts) just didn’t place a larger weight on social stimuli than they did on any other stimuli, of which flowers are one example,”  said.

“[This] supports the claim that introverts, or their brains, might be indifferent to people — they can take them or leave them, so to speak. The introvert’s brain treats interactions with people the same way it treats encounters with other, non-human information, such as inanimate objects for example,” Inna Fishman said.

The researchers concluded, “The results strongly suggest that human faces, or people in general, hold more significance for extroverts, or are more meaningful for them.”

The ideas here should not be taken as absolutes but perhaps are true to some degree. Keep in mind that the sample size was small (only 28) and limited (ages 18-40) More research should be done on this hypothesis. But it is an interesting start.

The Reporter as Introvert

I have done numerous interviews with reporters over the last few months. It has been enlightening to explore their views on the topic of I’s and E’s in the workplace.

I would say 98% of reporters are self proclaimed introverts. Our interviews often last longer than the alloted time. I find that the best stories have been the ones where we engaged in this give and take.

I love hearing their “ah ah’s ” and anecdotes – one reporter reminisced about hiding in the broom closet at a company reception. Another described the quiet mountain scene outside her window and her love of solitude in nature. Another, Taylor Mallory, Editor of the Little PINK Book shared some of her personal insights in her blog entry, “If I Am Not Talking, I Am Thinking!” I know you will enjoy her reflections.

Bias Againist Introverts

I met a very extroverted guy on line waiting at my local coffee shop. We started making conversation and the discussion moved to my fave topic  – introverts and extroverts in the workplace   Turns out he was a frustrated sales manager. ” I try to talk to these Tech (GA) grads, who are all Engineers and they just stare at me. They hide out and don’t talk. One of our introverted bosses just stands at my cube and will never take a seat. He has one foot out the door…..what is with these people!? “

This “introvert bias” is all too common. The extrovert’s frustration is real but how about getting rid of the judgment first? My next entry will address some tips for the extrovert to better connect with introverts. But the first task is to get rid of that pointing finger, don’t you think?