Introverts get a bum rap sometimes. They really do. And it’s even worse because a lot of times it’s for stuff they don’t even earn. It’s for characteristics that we (generally) attribute to them. Here are some of the culprits.
1. You can always tell if someone’s an introvert.
False. An individual being outgoing and engaging in the workplace does not necessarily mean they’re an extrovert, and someone not being the life of the party (or meeting) all the time doesn’t necessarily make them an introvert. Truth be told, there are probably at least a handful of folks you rub shoulders with pretty regularly that you believe to be extroverts, but in actuality they’re introverts, or vice versa.
2. Introverts generally don’t like people.
This one really bugs me. If you push on the logic behind this assumption, it’s really a bit silly. The argument goes something like this:
Premise: Introverts are quieter than others, and don’t appear to want to be in groups as much as others.
Premise: People who are quieter than others and don’t want to be in groups as much as others may not like people.
Conclusion: Therefore, introverts must not like other humans.
That, ladies and gents, is what we call a non sequitur.
But take it even further. If it’s really those things–being more outgoing and all that–that determine whether people like other people, wouldn’t we then have to say that the people who really like other people are going to be the most outgoing and loudest and most sociable humans on the planet? And if you’re anything less than that, you must not like people as much as they do, right? I mean, that’s the logic being applied to introverts in many cases. Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?
3. Since introverts don’t like people (#2 above), they generally don’t like talking to people.
(Sigh) Argumentum ad ignorantiam.
While this may be true with some, it’s certainly not true with all. It’s not one of those oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-going-to-do-if-I-have-to-talk-in-public kind of things. It’s often more like one of those man-it-was-awesome-sharing-my-thoughts-with-that-group-but-now-I-need-a-nap things.
5. Introverts aren’t socially adept.
Repeat after me: Being louder doesn’t necessarily equate to being more socially adept. Some of the very best “people people” I know are introverts. And some of the people who are the most deluded about how amazingly socially adept they think they are, are extroverts. True story.
6. Introverts are odd.
Because you’re the standard of normal, right?
7. Introverts are too distant.
What you call distant may actually be them very much in the moment. Listening. Absorbing. Taking in every nuance of what someone is saying and how they’re saying it. Reading body language around the room. Conceptualizing something in their head. They may very well be more “there” than the one who feels the need to talk every two seconds because that one isn’t really paying attention to what others are saying. He’s just counting to two and trying to remember his next line.
8. Introverts would be more effective if they were extroverts.
I used to buy into this one. Now, not so much. I think people are most effective when they’re themselves, whatever that happens to mean. Don’t pressure introverts to be extroverts. Why on earth would you want an organization or team full of extroverts?
Thank goodness for variety.