As I pointed out a few columns ago, introverts tend to be more creative, more reliable, more trustworthy, and to work harder than extroverts. Not surprisingly the great inventors and innovators of history have been markedly introverted: Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, Archimedes, and Charles Darwin.
Insanely, though, contemporary business culture values extroversion. They hire people based upon first impressions (extroverts are good at that), goal them on "collaborating" (which extroverts love), and then spending billions of dollars creating open-plan playgrounds perfectly suited for extroverts.
As I said, insane. Or maybe "inane" is the mot juste.
Anyway, because of this management boneheadedness, most workplaces are dominated by extroverts -- to the great detriment of both productivity and innovation. Alas, since that's not likely to change soon, introverts and extroverts will need to learn how to get along.
Unfortunately, while introverts can see right through extroverts, extroverts don't seem to grok introverts at all. So, since I'm off-the-scale introverted, I'll take it on myself to speak for my fellow introverts, to tell the extroverts what we wish they already knew. Here goes:
1. You're talking too much.
Introverts are good listeners, but the fact that we're listening to you and not saying anything doesn't mean we're enthralled by everything you're saying. Quite the contrary. If you've been talking for more than a couple of minutes without pause, we've mentally proceeded from "What a bore!" to "OMG, will he never stop talking!?" to "For God's sake, STFU!!" We're not going to say anything, though, because if we did, we would never hear the end of it.
2. We don't want to change.
Even though it's abundantly clear that society (in general) and workplaces (in particular) tend to value outgoing "people-people," we introverts don't want to, nor feel the need to, change to fit other people's ideas of how we ought to act and feel. We're perfectly fine the way we are, thank you very much. What's more, we'd greatly appreciate it if you stopped assuming we envy you. We don't. Believe me. We don't want to be like you.
3. Give us private offices or let us work from home.
Today's open-plan offices are productivity toilets and health hazards for everyone. For introverts, though, they're particularly hellish because there's no way to get away from other people. Forcing an introvert to work in an open-plan office is like forcing an extrovert to spend all day in solitary confinement. We need privacy. Please have the common sense and decency to give it to us.
4. We resent doing more than our share.
Because extroverts spend so much time collaborating, sharing, and gossiping, the burden of actually getting real work accomplished falls to the introverts. After a while--no, scratch that--from day one, we resent that you waste time and money socializing while we're working our asses off. And we really resent it when you pipe up to steal the credit.
5. Leave us alone to recharge.
Introverts feel physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually drained after being forced to interact with other people. The only way we can recharge is by disconnecting and being by ourselves. Yes, we know you draw energy from other people. Like a vampire. But we're the opposite. So when you see us sitting by ourselves, don't think you're doing us a favor by pestering us. You're not.
6. We are not shy loners.
Introverts are often talented at public speaking. We often have a small circle of close friends and family with whom we enjoy spending time. We're not bashful about our accomplishments; we just don't feel the need to toot our own horns. We don't talk about ourselves because we'd rather talk about something more interesting than stuff we already know.