Be Nice to Introverts
I liked the article and thought is was generally correct about a number of things. However, I think there is much more to personality than just introversion and extroversion (in fact, this is a dead horse I feel I have beaten again and again on this blog and in conversation, so I will try to make my comments here brief). Take myself for instance. Introverts probably comprise the majority of my closest friends, as well as probably three quarters of my immediate family*, and, while I have a surprising capacity for being friendly and upbeat, overall I am also an introvert (about 60%, I’d say). But it’s tricky – I really like people, and in the right circumstances I find interaction with them to be quite energizing, fulfilling, and fun. I also have a habit – which I’m sure many find perplexing if not annoying – of thinking out loud. Nevertheless, I think at my core I am an introvert. However, I do take some issue with the author’s assertion that introversion is an immutable orientation. Or rather, what I really take issue with is the temptation to conclude that, because introversion is innate, people are thus incapable of adapting and even changing**. And of course, this is very similar to the objection I most hear about these personality theories – that they reduce people into overly-simplistic caricatures incapable of adaptation and growth. I think this criticism is somewhat deserved, but I also think these theories (certain of them, that is) can at least offer some sort of threshold for understanding and appreciating the differences among us in the present.
*Aside from Mom and Tiff, probably everyone, including spouses, huh?
**not that I am the undisputed life of the party, but you’d better believe I wasn’t always as outgoing and confident in social situations as I am now. My mission in particular did wonders for helping me become more outgoing, as did simply gaining confidence about myself and my abilities during my college years.