DENIAL is what happened When Myers-Briggs slapped me with an INTJ label. Luckily Susan Cain’s Quiet helped me own up to my introverted temperament. It’s like that ugly quilt you hide from company but pull out on the coldest of days. Share the warmth my friends. And don’t call it ugly – it’s called character.
Defining the term Introvert
In a nutshell, introverts are highly reactive to both positive and negative external stimuli, making them very alert, sensitive to nuance and emotionally complex. They also have rich inner lives.
Our disposition to introversion is genetically predetermined, on average by 50% (ranges from 0% to 100%).
I can’t tell you how many times I wished I was different. Knowing that at least part of my disdain for clubbing is genetically driven is freeing. If your idea of a wild Saturday night is staying home with a book or movie, own the shit out of your preference.
How to manage your introverted temperament
The first step is self awareness. Once you have that down, self coaxing is an effective way to get you through difficult situations, by leveraging the Neo Cortex to soothe unwarranted fears brought on by the more primitive amygdale.
You can also try to become an effective self monitor by looking for clues and then modifying your behavior to the social demands of the situation. Sounds rather inauthentic to me, so maybe it is less about changing who you are and more about making choices that play to your natural strengths.
Cain also illustrates how being true to your introverted temperament can still fuel social and cultural change and inspire others via public speaking or other acts of courage.
8 Career Options for Introverts
After proving that our school system is geared towards extroversion in order to prepare children for the real world, Cain highlights the pitfalls of an extroverted workplace. I don’t know about you, but this explains why I have felt extreme discomfort in both the concrete jungle and schoolyard.
Apparently in the 1990’s the workplace was geared towards solitary work. Since then, cubicle square footage has shrunk and poorly run meeting invites have multiplied, leading to a decline in productivity and a rise in personal ailments.
If you have to work in a corporate setting, try to choose one that:
- Allows for enough “in-character” activity (i.e. solo work)
- Provides a private enough work space and enough restorative niches within your day to regroup
- Makes use of your persistence and tenacity to solve complex problems
- Partners you up with an extrovert who is better at handling information overload, multi-tasking and performing under pressure; you will complement each other
- Allows you to pursue restorative niches in your spare time: whatever floats your boat
But if you find yourself hungry for a career change, consider this:
- What did you enjoy doing as a kid? What kind of work do you gravitate to now and who do you envy? Let these answers guide you
- Find an activity that you enjoy so much that you pursue it for its own sake, without needing a reward. This will lead you to a state of flow, where you can naturally act “out of character” for the benefit of your cause
- Choose a career that lets you avert novelty and live in your own head. We’re talking artists, writers, scientists or thinkers (side eye to myself)
The goal is to attain an optimal level of stimulation most of the time. Or as high school science class taught me: seek equilibrium.
You won’t regret buying Quiet
Cain’s writing is fueled by passion and her tone is conversational, despite the academic subject matter. If you are an introvert this book will help you understand yourself better. And if you live with one, work with one or are raising one, it will help you interact with them. Highly recommended for parents, teachers and managers in my opinion. And thank you toSandyB for recommending to me – it has kind of changed my life.
So there you have: let your freak flag fly, whatever your temperament.