Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Introverts vs extroverts

Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.

– Matthew 5:5

Susan Cain's hugely popular book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, examines the notion that we wrongly undervalue the introvert in society and champion the extrovert*.

But in the workplace, it's usually the introverts who perform better; they tend to get on with the work, whilst extroverts engage in banter most of the day. Introverts should be allowed their own private offices to be able to concentrate as they work better without interruption; whilst extroverts should be allowed to get on with their banter and loud laughter (I'm convinced laughing loudest is the key to success in the office) in the open plan office.

Management like to hire bubbly, extrovert people who are going to get on in the office place and be popular, whether they are good at their jobs or not. Usually, they're not, and most extroverts are idiots. Interviewers mostly hire staff according to body language, whether they like them, and whether they're like them.

Society favours extroverts in all stages of life, from school and socialising to work and business meetings. Cain's book aims to address the balance, favouring the introvert who tends to be a creative, passionate and deep thinking person. The meek won't inherit the earth but may inherit the office one day.

(Malcolm Gladwell has also recently got on the loser bandwagon: in his new book, David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits And The Art Of Battling Giants, he argues that the underdog and misfit in society is more likely to succeed because of their disability. He also believes that underdogs and misfits can be more creative. This is nothing new, of course: the idea of the 'mad', 'eccentric' artist as genius has long been typified by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh.)

*I think saying people are either introvert and extrovert is slightly simplistic as we can all have both introvert and extrovert moments. No doubt the book explores this.

Previously on Barnflakes:
The offensive office 
Notes on afflictions

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