Discrimination against Introverts? Nahhhhhh….


In a LinkedIn group that I belong to, the question was raised about whether there is discrimination against Introverts.

Well, many people would agree, Introverts and Extraverts alike, that the North American culture prizes Extraversion.  Charisma, magnetism, sociability, and gregariousness are preferred personality characteristics in our western culture.

We love outgoing and enthusiastic people.  They’re fun to be around and they can be quite entertaining.  We hate quiet and reserved people.  It’s hard to carry on a conversation with them and they seem to suck the energy out of the room.  We put the former on a pedestal and are drawn in to the outward charm.  We assert that the latter isn’t to be trusted because they can’t maintain eye contact.

Well, as an Introvert, I can tell you that it sure feels like the world in an extroverted place.  But are we discriminated against?  I’m not sure.  I sure feel out of my element sometimes, and as an entrepreneur, I find that the extroverted selling process is exhausting for me.  But it sure doesn’t mean I can’t adapt and find ways to be successful, because I can.

But is it discrimination or misunderstanding?

What would I like the world to know about me as an Introvert?  Here’s my list.  Other Introverts may come up with a different list, but this one is mine:

  • When I’m in deep concentration mode, I don’t welcome your interruption (but I’ll get over it).
  • My favourite party is one where I know everyone really well, or where I can follow around my Extravert husband (he’s always the life of the party and I couldn’t get a word in, even if I wanted to talk).
  • If you ask me a question that I need to think about, I want you to give me a minute to formulate my thoughts.  I don’t want you to assume I didn’t understand the question and I don’t need you to rephrase it.
  • I’m comfortable with silence, even if you’re not.
  • Just because I sit quietly and take it all in, that doesn’t mean I’m not engaged or having fun.
  • If I have to fight with the Extraverts of the world to share my thoughts, I probably won’t bother.  So if you want to know what I think, listen to me after you ask.
  • I don’t like talking on the telephone.  Sorry.  I just don’t.  I’d rather send you an email because it lets me think about what I want to say.
  • I need to be alone to recharge my batteries.  Please don’t take it personally.
  • If you force me to think out loud on a topic that I don’t know much about, the words that come out may not make a lot of sense.
  • If you ask me a question and I don’t answer, I’m probably deep in thought and I didn’t hear you.  I’m not ignoring you, honest.
  • Just because I’m an Introvert, please don’t assume that I’m shy.  In fact, when I’m in my element, I’m quite the opposite.
  • I don’t like small talk.  But if you do, I’m happy to listen to you.  I’m a great listener.
  • I am NOT anti-social.  I just enjoy my own company.

If you’re an Extravert I’d love to see your list.  What do you want the world to know about you?  Help us understand you.

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