Dr. Brian Little’s TedX Talk, Confessions of a Passionate Introvert is great fun and highly relatable. Dr. Little was profiled in Susan Cain’s book Quiet. He also made a few points that resonated with me and a few that I question.
1) Many people don’t believe he is an Introvert. I constantly am told this from Introverted leaders. This is all because they act “as if” they are confident and expressive. Dr. Little calls it acting “out of character.” Introverts tell me that playing an outgoing role is required in most organizations and so they play the part.
2) Extroverts and Introverts respond to optimal levels of arousal. This has to do with the Neocortex in the brain. E’s often are depleted when there is not enough going on. I’s on the other hand are happy when the stimulation is low. I learned in my research that there is even a term called “bathroom solitude. ” Introverts will escape to bathrooms as a respite from all the noise they encounter. My introverted husband Bill visibly winces when he is quietly cooking dinner and I enter the room with talk, turned on light switches and music:)
3) Extroverts get personal more quickly. They move close in conversations and get familiar faster. “Charles” becomes “Charlie” in that first meeting. Introverts on the other hand, take their time in getting to know you and “Charles” remains “Charles” until given permission to use a nickname like “Charlie.” I also often encounter Introverts who wonder why Extroverts move into their physical space. Extroverts are frustrated trying to connect with Introverts through eye contact and light touching as they make their points.
4) Introverts are less direct than Extroverts. He cites the example of his colleague who wasted no time in describing someone as an “___hole” whereas Dr. Little beat around the bush in describing this person. I don’t agree with his view on this difference. I know plenty of Introverts who get to their blunt point quickly! I suspect there are other personality factors at play here.
5) Introverts have less sex than Extroverts. He shows a chart that indicates that both male and female Extroverts have more sex than Introverts. While this is intriguing I wonder about his research. Like most sex research, it was most likely self-reported and we know about the questionable reliability of that data! Perhaps the Extroverts exaggerated their numbers? Dr. Little did mention that in addition to quantity we need to consider quality. I will have to ask my friend Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way and the upcoming book Introverts In Love about her opinion on this one.
I give Dr. Little points for his stance as a “Passionate Introvert”. This “Passionate Extrovert” is glad we can bring humor into the discussion of our differences. The Comedian Victor Borge was right when he said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”