Introverts vs. Extroverts

When I came across this piece in Wired, I recalled a conversation in a workshop wherein a client offered an explanation for how introverts and extroverts differ when it comes to presenting.

He, an introvert, noted that both can be equally effective in presenting and interacting with others.  The difference, he noted, was that “extroverts are energized by the experience, and introverts are exhausted by the experience.”

This rang true for me.  I would generally classify myself as an extrovert.  I tend to be energized by leading workshops and interacting with clients.  I am happy to go out to dinner with clients the evening of a workshop.  It’s stimulating and fun.  That said, there are times when I am DONE talking to people and just want to veg with a movie, a book, or a video game.

Two of my colleagues at The Henderson Group were introverts and tended to avoid interaction with people after a workshop.  My mentor, David Henderson, used to say, “If you saw me at 8 o’clock (the night of a workshop), it would look like someone shot me.”  He would be practically inert while his batteries charged.  My wife, Robin, whose worked with us on and off since 1997, also favors quiet solitude after engaging with clients.

This piece by Clive Thompson points out that there is value in introversion.

Guy Kawasaki, by all appearances, seems like an outgoing guy. A former Apple “evangelist,” he’s an omnipresent voice online, blogging his ideas about entrepreneurship and tweeting 40 times a day to his half-million followers.

But a few years ago he posted a surprising 140-character revelation. “You may find this hard to believe,” Kawasaki wrote, “but I am an introvert. I have a ‘role’ to play, but fundamentally I am a loner.” His followers were gobsmacked…

About half of Americans are introverts, Cain says. These are people who have a superb ability to focus but work best alone and become drained by too much enforced socializing. Yet the US workplace has evolved in complete opposition to their needs. Private office space has shrunk dramatically: 30 years ago, companies averaged more than 500 square feet per employee; today it’s less than 200. Meanwhile, corporations have pushed employees to work in face-to-face teams, marching them endlessly into conference rooms for brainstorms.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post from our partner, Brilliance Inc, on “Ambiverts” a new categorization that offers more subtlety and nuance on this topic and explains why some of us need both solitude and interaction to stay balanced.

photo credit: mararie


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