The Introvert Advantage – Marti Olsen Laney
I have to admit that I haven’t read all that many social psychology books, but this is certainly the best one I’ve read.
When someone uses the term ‘introvert‘, I wouldn’t be surprised if many people immediately think of shyness, being anti-social, being a hermit. In fact, it’s not the same as these traits, not at all. This book offers a wonderful, comprehensive exploration of who an introvert really is. Introversion is, in actuality, a type of temperament that one is born with. The elements that really define an introvert are:
- Energy: Introverts draw their energy from their internal world, of ideas, thoughts, emotions – they just need a quiet, reflective place to think and recharge.
–> This is opposed to extroverts, who gain energy from the external world – from other people, activities, places. Being alone is often understimulating for an extrovert.
- Stimulation: When engaging in something social, an introvert is using up their energy – and if the outside stimulation, like a party or whatever, gets to be too intense, an introvert will quickly become exhausted. Because of the high internal activity an introvert experiences, anything coming from the outside world has this strong effect.
–> On the contrary, extroverts like to experience a lot of external stimulation. It’s their way of refreshing themselves, what they thrive on.
I am an introvert, to the core. This admission may actually confuse or surprise a few of you – after all, I’m friendly (I like to think so! :P) and enjoy being with my friends, I’m not passive or meek, and I’m reasonably comfortable with small talk. However, despite this, I definitely do get my energy from spending time alone. I get drained by social events, no matter how much I enjoy them – and 99% of the time, I definitely do enjoy such events, and want to be there! 🙂 However, it definitely can all get a bit too much sometimes, and I just need to take a step back.
This book was like a breath of fresh air. Before my lovely friend lent me his copy (you know who you are, doll! ;)), even I wasn’t completely sure of what introversion was. Now I know that it is just how some people – around 25% of the population – are wired. Every second sentence of this book made me have a mini squee, when I discovered that I wasn’t the “only one” who was like this. For example…
- I like to listen more than I like to talk
- I don’t like to interrupt others, and similarly, like to have large uninterrupted time periods when working on a project
- I usually need to think before I respond or speak (sooo true – when I don’t, I am rather a lot less articulate!)
- I like people to come to my home, but I don’t like them to stay too long
- I don’t think of casual acquaintances as friends
- I sometimes rehearse things before speaking, like writing it down
- I find my mind sometimes goes blank if asked to speak unexpectedly
- I can “zone out” if too much is going on
- I feel as if I can’t show other people my work or ideas until they’re fully formed
- I may think I have told you something, when I’ve actually just thought it
- I may reduce eye contact when speaking to focus on collecting words and thoughts
- I can forget things I know very well – stumble around when explaining my job, or whatever…
…and the list goes on! I won’t bore you, though 😉
But yes. As the back of the book says, it’s “Filled with Aha! moments”. I can thoroughly attest to this. And honestly, anyone who feels like they could be an introvert themselves, I recommend this book whole-heartedly. It’s definitely helped me to understand myself better, why I react in certain ways in certain circumstances – and helped me to believe that I’m not weird or the odd one out, but I’m perfectly normal, and have my own strengths just like extroverts.
I also would particularly love to recommend this book to extroverts. There’s much in here to learn about extroverts too, and how different they are from introverts – and what’s more, it would help extroverts to understand introverts. It seems to me like an ongoing struggle, sometimes, with some people – no matter how I try to explain something, sometimes one of my extrovert friends just shakes their head, perplexed. I know that sometimes, what I do won’t make a lot of sense to an extrovert, but I’m okay with this. I’ve learned to accept it. But, it would be magic if someday, extroverts could come to understand too.
And here ends a relatively serious, non-gushy blog post, for once! 😉 Glad I still have it in me.
I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this – do you think you’re an introvert? An extrovert? A bit of both? Even a shy extrovert? Just plain unsure? I want to know 🙂 Clearly these things are not always simple black and white – everyone is different, after all 😉
P.S. As an aside, learn how to make super yummy Butter Chicken and Naan Bread from the lovely Amber! 🙂 makes me drool just thinking about it…