It may seem like the world is dominated by extroverts — in business, in politics, in media. They’re often recognized in the classroom, rewarded in the office and appreciated at parties. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing introverts as irrelevant. In their quiet and thoughtful way, they have a lot to teach us. Introverts often get a bad rap due to the public’s failure to fully understand the definition, says Farrah Parker, owner and executive coach at FD Parker and Associates. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t like people or that you’re shy. “It simply means that the way you refuel and unwind often involves peace and solitude,” Parker says. There are quite a number of benefits to this introspective life approach, so continue reading to find out exactly what you can learn from introverts.
1. Relish Independent Activity Because they enjoy being alone, introverts tend to excel at work or activities that entail independence or solitude. “Artists, writers, composers and inventors are often introverted,” says Jeremy Schwartz, a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, New York. Jobs that require a great deal of independent work are where many introverts succeed. “They’re likely to be described as self-starters who take initiative with minimal direction needed,” Schwartz says. “They thrive in places where they can engage in in-depth, reflective work. Introverts are great at avoiding distractions and focusing on what matters to them.” This trait can be practical for certain types of fitness pursuits as well, adds psychiatrist Taliba M. Foster. “For instance, long-distance running is quite isolating and requires focus and discipline.”
2. Practice Effective Listening Skills “Introverts are good listeners,” says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina. “They may not be facile talkers, but introverted people usually know how to really listen.” And it’s this skill that research has shown can make introverts better leaders than extroverts, especially when their employees are naturally proactive. An extroverted leader of a team of extroverts can get so caught up in expressing his own thoughts that he fails to listen to or act on the ideas his team is proposing. An introverted leader, however, is more likely to listen to and process the ideas of his extroverted team. The listening skills of introverts can be advantageous in their personal lives as well. Introverts, says psychologist Simon Rego, “can be very effective listeners — particularly in one-on-one situations with their partner, which can enhance emotional intimacy and connectedness.”
3. Appreciate Seclusion “Introverts have no problem pushing through tough deadlines that require complete isolation to achieve results,” says executive coach Farrah Parker. “They will stay in the house for an entire weekend if it means meeting a goal and succeeding.” Unlike the gregarious extroverts, when introverts are sequestered for an extended period of time working on a project, they will “rarely feel as though the world has left them behind simply because they are not literally outside and engaged,” Parker says. Leadership coach Jene Kapela agrees. “Introverts enjoy working alone and are quite comfortable and happy in a solitary working environment,” she says. As a result, they tend to have an advantage focusing their attention on one thing for an extended period of time without getting distracted, she says.
4. Take Time in New Situations Many of us could learn from an introvert’s tendency to take his time in new circumstances. Introverts don’t immediately jump into the deep end of the pool when faced with a new situation, says psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina. “They go very slowly and size up the state of affairs before making any moves.” Introverts will often wait until they’re approached rather than approaching new people. This means, Tessina says, they usually don’t end up making a social faux pas as a result of not understanding the milieu. On the contrary, introverts wait and consider their options, resulting in a more appropriate course of action than if they had leapt into the fray with less forethought. “Introverts tend to think more before acting or speaking,” says psychotherapist Jeremy Schwartz. “Extroverts, on the other hand, are more likely to talk and act as they are thinking.”
5. Form Deeper Connections “While introverts do not enjoy large social situations,” says Jene Kapela, principal and founder of Jene Kapela Leadership Solutions, “they do enjoy smaller gatherings of close friends and tend to develop deep and meaningful relationships with others.” Psychologist Simon Rego points out that, “Most introverts can recognize this quality in themselves and set up social events that meet this need.” An introvert might, for example, plan a small-scale dinner party or arrange more one-on-one engagements rather than large group events. These smaller gatherings can allow for longer, more meaningful conversations, leading to deeper connections and greater understanding of others.
The original article “9 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Introverts" appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.
By Lynette Arceneaux
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