Remember in school what happened whenever the teacher asked a question that required a bit of thinking?
Some of the kids would shoot their hands up in the air. “Ooh, pick me! Pick me!” Fast forward to the workplace. In meetings, the leader asks a question or poses a problem that requires some thought, and those same people instantly start speaking.
Those people are most likely extroverts.
Meanwhile, you’re quietly thinking, “This isn’t as simple as it seems. There are a lot of variables to consider. Hmm… I have some thoughts, but I want to give a more complete, nuanced answer. I wish I’d known ahead of time so I could have prepared a well-thought-out response. “
Then you’re told in evaluation sessions at work that you need to “speak up more in meetings.” And as a child, your teacher commented on report cards that you’re “too quiet” and that you “need to participate in class discussions.”
You are most likely an introvert.
What’s going on here? In a nutshell:
Introverts need to “think it out.” Extroverts need to “talk it out.” It’s all a matter of brain wiring.
An extrovert I know told me that in school – and today as an adult – she’s always trusted that when she opens her mouth, something good will come out. She’s describing the extrovert’s need to “talk it out.” Extroverts’ brains are optimized to use “working memory,” which involves a shallower blood pathway in the brain. So extroverts can give an instant answer and “think on their feet,” talking out the details to elaborate on their initial thought.
Introverts’ brains utilize a longer, more complicated blood pathway that relies on information stored in long-term memory. Introverts are thinking ninjas! Their brains are constantly processing input, connecting the dots, assessing risks…
So while the extroverts are talking, the introverts are thinking!
The big problem of course is that we live in an extrovert-biased culture, so the extroverts are rewarded and the introverts are made to feel that there’s “something wrong” with them.
And until brain imaging technology came along, introverts were judged as “neurotic,” “maladjusted to the world.”
This belief still prevails, but you don’t have to buy into it! You are actually gifted!
In the workplace, you’re the one who sees the downside to gung-ho initiatives. Unfortunately, you’re often shut down by the leaders and labeled as “too negative.” Slowly, leaders are being educated to the fact that up to half their employees are introverts and that these employees are valuable.
Most people are “ambiverts,” meaning near the middle, but almost everyone is on one side or the other of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Whichever side you’re on, feel good about being who you are and celebrate the differences!
There’s nothing wrong with you as an introvert – in fact you’re wonderfully complex and creative. It’s how your brain is wired.
I want to give you hope by reassuring you that you don’t have to stuff yourself into the extrovert paradigm, feeling divorced from your authentic self.
How would you like to:
- Let go of shame around being an introvert and start honoring who you truly are?
- Move from coping to thriving using your natural strengths?
- Strategize from inside your personal Comfort Zone based on your skillsets and introvert needs?
If you have a solopreneur business – as a consultant, coach, etc. – and you dream of being your authentic, relaxed, fully expressed introverted self, you’ll want to get my inspiring and practical workbook so you can thrive as a solopreneur. You can get it here: