Changing the introvert brand.

Self Care

If you ask someone what behavioural characteristics they believe apply to introverts, you will likely hear words such as anti-social, shy, too much in their heads, over-sensitive, and nervous.

These aren’t exactly inspiring labels, nor are they accurate. In fact, there seems to be a dearth of positive descriptors for introverts. This isn’t news. Nor is it news that extroverts are perceived to be outgoing, gregarious, positive thinkers, inspiring leaders, high achievers, and generally fun to be around.

Being an introvert myself, I would also describe myself as thoughtful, creative, artistic, intelligent, quiet, inquiring, sensitive, open-minded, and hard-working. I sound pretty amazing right? But as soon as I substitute any of these for the word ‘introverted’, they begin to lose their positive associations, the gloss disappears.

Imagine now that I am an extrovert, and I include that descriptor in with the others mentioned above. I sound twice as amazing now right?

As much as I know that these are just parts of the greater self, and because honestly, no one wants to be reduced to a series of labels, I also know that labels make it easier for everyone to interact with people we don’t have the time or opportunity to get to know very well.

It doesn’t help that we are asked to apply labels to ourselves all the time, for example, when we use online dating, apply for a job, or meet someone in a professional/social context. Would you at some point describe yourself as an introvert in any of these situations? Probably not, and yet, if you are an extrovert there would be no problem with you saying “I’m an outgoing person who loves being around people.”

How do we turn this around? Can introverts ever be perceived as ‘alpha’?

In her article ‘Three Introverted CEOs and What You Can Learn From Them’, Susan Cain writes about the former CEO of Campbell Soup, Douglas Conant who advises to try and win peoples ‘hearts and minds’.

Could it be this simple? Extroverts make personal connections via social engagement. Are there ways introverts can make those same connections without having to become extroverts for a day?

Perhaps it comes down to simple things like asking questions and listening properly, sending handwritten notes thanking someone for their help, doing favours for someone unasked, or offering our unique skills/knowledge on a particular project.

Perhaps it’s as simple as improving the quality of all of our interactions with others. All of these things can be done without needing to become a networking, conversational, super-selling whirlwind.

What do you think? Can you think of other ways to change the introvert ‘brand’? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa Scott
    March 15, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I think it would be hard to change the introvert brand because most introverts are so okay with being the way they are. Ironically, the one thing we seem to be loud and proud about is the fact that we are are quiet homebodies. lol The extraverts definitely get the glitz and glam associated with them but I think most introverts are okay with that. We know a lot of people don’t “get” us but we don’t really care to put the effort in to change that. At least that is how I feel and it has been the experience with the fellow introverts I know. Love your site, by the way!

    • Reply
      Editor
      March 17, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Hi Lisa, I love that you and your fellow introvert friends embrace your introversion! I think perhaps the older we get, the more we accept ourselves as well. I don’t remember being half as confident with who I was 15 years ago, I constantly felt like the square peg trying to fit into the round hole, especially working in a corporate environment. I wonder if introversion is more acceptable in the creative industries than it is in the corporate world? And yes, I thoroughly agree, being a quiet homebody is the best and something to be proud of. Thank you for your comments!

  • Reply
    Editor
    March 17, 2016 at 11:52 am

    You know, I’ve seen both but have always drifted towards ‘extro’. Carl Jung spelt it as ‘extrAversion’ and it seems to have morphed into ‘extrOversion’ over the years. Perhaps to be technically correct I should adopt Jung’s spelling…

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