Introverts have come into their own. Maybe it's this digital age of ours: We email and we text. We don't meet face-to-face as much as we used to.
Teams work remotely. People work from home. The introvert, who prefers lots of alone time, probably accomplishes a great deal.
Introverts seem more able to focus on tasks. They are good listeners and problem-solvers. They can discuss those solutions with their teammates and supervisors via messaging, email, Skype and all of the other project management tools companies use today.
Introverts are usually superior writers. They have spent more time reading and writing than non-introverts. They don't offend others because they quietly listen and observe. They don't press their opinions assertively.
Maybe it's the fact that we are in the age of freelancing. Introverts can hire themselves out as freelancers, and they don't have to establish those long-term relationships that regular employees do. They meet with contractors, either in person or online, and then go about completing projects on their own.
Yes, this is truly an age in which introverts have the chance to flourish and demonstrate their value. They must be pretty happy: Well, sort of.
What most don't understand about introverts is that they enjoy people just as much as everyone else does: just in smaller doses. They have a few friends with whom they spend a lot of time, of course. But they also enjoy the company of acquaintances on their own terms. Being holed up all by themselves, day after day, is not necessarily ideal for them.
Here are some things that are not so great about being an introvert that introverts themselves will not tell you:
1. Introverts often forget basic social customs.
Because their experiences in social situations are often minimal, introverts do not get into the habit of the normal social graces that are part of the give and take of greeting others. They're not the best at engaging in “small talk” and showing interest in what others have to say.
Their introverted behaviors can come across as them being disinterested. While they experience discomfort and perhaps embarrassment, others think these introverts don't have basic social graces. The introverts will start feeling unworthy.
2. Introverts are often tagged as rude, boring or elitist.
When people are gathered around discussing something, the introvert will remain quiet. He or she prefers to listen to what others are saying.
The introvert might like to insert comments or points of view, but is often just unable to do so. In fact, introverts may look away and exhibit body language that separates them from the group. Often times, this is seen as the introverts being rude or “too good” for everyone else there.
Nothing could be further from the truth. But the introvert will not correct these impressions.
If an introvert forces him or herself to act like an extrovert in these settings, the emotional fallout can be tough. It will require a good amount of decompression time.
3. Introverts shun networking.
Most introverts are very uncomfortable in situations that involve large groups of people, no matter whether they're strangers or mere acquaintances. While the extrovert “works” the room, meeting and greeting others, the introvert will take a seat in a more isolated spot. He or she will do anything to look busy, so that others won't approach and “interrupt” him or her.
Introverts will often volunteer to do things behind the scenes in an attempt to avoid contact with their peers. You will never find an introvert hanging out at a bar alone, or at any place where networking and social contacts are often made. The prospect of having to make conversation with a stranger is just too scary.
4. Introverts will not speak publicly.
An introvert would rather have five root canals than be forced to make a presentation in front of others. If, however, an introvert is asked to prepare a presentation that someone else will be giving, the presentation will be stunning.
The slides will be perfect. The written “speech” or text will be compelling and beautifully written. Many introverts do, in fact, become speech writers for others.
They can be creative and engaging, and they can even inject humor and inspiration in their work. Many introverts also become freelance writers because it gives them a great outlet for their creativity and writing skills.
5. Introverts will avoid conflict, office politics and the busyness of the workplace.
Because introverts take their time when it comes to making decisions and preparing reports and such, they are often accused of procrastinating. They may, in fact, be working harder than anyone else. What they produce may be far superior to the work of an extrovert.
Conflict and politics are common in any work setting. People are competitive. They take great effort to promote themselves. There is bound to be conflict when two or more really assertive people disagree. Introverts may have solutions, but they will not necessarily present them unless they're asked in private.
They avoid frays and political maneuverings because they don't want any spotlight shone on them. Extroverts often get their energy from lots of noise, and even conflict in the workplace. But introverts get their energy from alone, reflective time.
6. Introverts are loyal friends.
Extroverts may have many friends. In fact, they may spread themselves a bit thin in this regard. They organize social events, join the company softball team and are always in the thick of it: both in their personal and professional lives.
The introvert prefers a few close friends. He or she is willing to spend the time that is necessary to listen, give advice and help others.
For those few friends, the introvert is highly valued. Anyone who has an introvert as a close friend is very lucky. Unfortunately, extroverts do not see this. They simply see the introvert as unfriendly.
7. Introverts sometimes live vicariously within larger social groups.
This is the one thing about social media that introverts love. They can “friend” others and engage in conversations with mere acquaintances and strangers, without the fear of having to engage with those individuals in person.
The introvert can be engaging and funny online, but that all disappears in actual physical settings. Thus, others will never come to know the great personality that lies beneath that quiet and retiring outer shell. Introverts wish they could do things differently, but they just can't.
Those who don't understand the life and struggles of an introvert will always get the wrong impression. They are missing out on a relationship that can be rewarding and valuable.
Introverts do not open up easily. But when people take the time to “meet” them on their own terms, they find out how much introverts really have to offer.