There they are, talking so loudly, often interrupting each other in the meeting, all of them just full of great ideas and talking on and on and on. What’s wrong with the guy who’s in that seat nearest the door, doodling, looking at his watch, and looking as if he only wants to leave? Well – nothing at all! He’s an introvert, and if he had anything to say that he thought would be of value or end this meeting, he’d say it! But he is not going to talk just to hear the sound of his own voice or “one-up” the others in the meeting. He’s thinking about the topic, or when the extroverts start wandering off topic or even saying the same things over and over again, he is then a million miles away thinking of something else. But he’s thinking, no matter what!
Over ten years ago I had an acquaintance I’d see in a group that went for drinks occasionally, had parties, etc. I knew her for years locally, and we even traded social visits. Then she moved over a thousand miles away and we started writing to each other. Soon she wrote something I found very strange. She told me, “All these years I never knew how funny and smart you are until we started writing to each other!” At the time, I was a very ingratiating person, so I responded with something like, “Thank you!” Nowadays, I’d more likely say, “And I find your personality much easier to take from 1200 miles away also!” You see, I am an introvert. That doesn’t mean I hate people or that I am a “weird loner.” It means that although I find social interaction fun, it is draining to me, and my way to recharge is to be alone and read or surf the web or even just daydream while I do my housework. Extroverts are the opposite and recharge by talking to others. This great gap in understanding between innies and outties is almost as complete as that between men and women. Twice this week I have heard references to introverts. About a very quiet guy: “He’s not very smart, is he?” (Simply because he was quiet)! And about another quiet guy: “I’m glad we don’t have someone with a good personality in that position because they’d feel isolated in that room.”
I used to be so miserable in meetings that once people started saying the same things over and over again I’d start making lists of things I needed to do after work, draw pictures, or any other thing to take myself totally out of the room, mentally. Now thank goodness I do have a great boss who is interesting and never lets things get boring. Also, I go to meetings with a different mindset. I go in sort of like someone going to a job interview – ready to try to find out more, and also prepared to talk about what I’ve been doing. My boss gives each of us a few minutes to talk about what we’re working on, and I used to just hit the extremely high spots – in 30 seconds or less. 🙂 But I noticed my colleagues go into great detail, so now I write a list, with details, ahead of time and refer to it when it’s my turn. I may not interrupt people or repeat things over and over again, but this introvert is no one’s dummy, and everyone knows it!
Photo credit: ghindo