Sunday, February 11, 2007

Elusive Introversion

This article at the Atlantic on introverts is thought provoking, though I don't think it really deserves its title. There's not much about "caring" in it.

There are a few quotes I can identify with:

Many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors...

I know I've often felt like I'm faking something when I make small talk. I really don't think I know how to do it. I tend to want to either dive off the deep end into meaningful conversations that will leave participants changed in some way, or else keep my mouth shut.

... after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge.

This one is easy to feel guilty over. I used to find myself not wanting to go to some social event and I would feel like I was being rude. Then I learned, mostly through trial and error, that I need time to rest and re-center myself between social exertions.

At other times, Rauch goes too far:

Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

I think this is stated too strongly. Author and psychotherapist Marti Laney makes the point in her book, The Introvert Advantage, that introverts can be energized by deep conversations in small groups. Is it a big surprise that I hate over-generalizations (except this one)?

Rauch also paints quite a caricature of extroversion, which I sense is a strong reaction to frustrations he's experienced (please, that's not intended as an ad hominem!):

Are introverts arrogant? Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts.

I certainly share his frustrations, but I wouldn't go so far as to rank introverts as more intelligent than extroverts. Uni-dimensional intelligence measurements disgust me. Also, treating the introvert/extrovert classification as binary is a mistake in my opinion. Marti Laney spends a bit of time discussing variations. I believe there is a continuum of sorts.

Overall, the article's worth a read if you think some of your coworkers are "scary loners". I think we're still just beginning to understand this area of personality though.


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