With the recent launch of a book celebrating the silent type, self-confessed quiet girl Andrea Anastasiou discovers how introverts can be successful in a world that applauds extroverts
Throughout my life, I've been given different variations of the same observation. In school, my concerned teachers would tell my mum: ‘she's very bright, but she's too quiet and needs to put her hand up more,' and throughout my working life, my managers have consistently said to me: ‘your work is great, but I feel you need to speak up in meetings and contribute to brainstorming sessions more often.' The truth is, I hate brainstorming, I do not like speaking up in meetings unless I have something particularly constructive to say, and I feel that I do all my best work alone. According to my teachers and managers, this is a problem. To me, however, it is simple: I'm an introvert and this is how I like to work and live my life. In fact, it's the only way I know how.
The strong, silent type
Psychologically speaking, introverts are characterised by their preference for lower stimulation environments. So while extroverts are energised in situations where they are interacting with others, such as loud parties and large gatherings, introverts prefer to have a cup of coffee with a close friend or read a book. Nevertheless, despite common misconceptions, this does not mean that all introverts are shy or that they dislike people. Many introverts are known to be very outgoing, but they will also always seek time to be alone and recharge.
"Introverts are typically private, thoughtful, reflective individuals," says Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and director of LightHouse Arabia in Dubai. "These characteristics can sometimes make them seem not as savvy in a world that applauds extroverts - people who are quick to make connections, and can think on their feet. But these qualities are actually very valuable because introverts are typically good listeners and great advisors."
An extroverted world
The problem is, however, modern society tends to value the highly extroverted ideals of gregariousness, taking risks, and being comfortable in the limelight, over the quietness, shyness and thoughtfulness of most archetypal introverts. The stereotypical person who gets ahead in the workplace is confident, charming and energetic, while more quiet types are seen as aloof and disinterested. A new book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, explores how modern society undervalues introverts. Through her book, Cain argues that introverts are disadvantaged by the bias that is shown towards them in today's society, meaning that their many talents are being wasted.
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