On the heels of my post on labeling, I saw a WSJ article on a label –“introverted”– that applies to me. In my case I’ve found the “introverted” label helpful in organizing my work environment and learning how to work well with extroverts. However, the label also has drawbacks. The fact that “introvert” and “loner” are often used interchangeably, as in this article, is somewhat insulting and could be hazardous to one’s career. “Loners” don’t tend to get promoted!
Loners don’t necessarily fear the company of others. They appear to require solitude to process thoughts and events because those stimuli register more strongly with them than in outgoing people.[I]ntroverts have stronger responses to some experiences than the three-fourths of the world’s population that can be considered extroverted. Amanda Guyer, a psychologist at the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., has found that individuals who withdraw from other people’s company are more sensitive than extroverts to a wide range of positive emotional cues. Situations rife with emotional triggers, such as parties, can be wearying for such people, while solitude serves as a refreshing balm… [S]tudies have shown that creative activities provoke more pleasure in introverts than extroverts. This, along with a more acute observation of subtleties, might explain the stereotypical lifestyles of loner artists.
Early in my career, before I had my own office, I found it especially hard to work in an open environment. I never thought of asking for a special accommodation (i.e., my own office) as an introvert. (or loner!) but I wonder if the new labeled generation will. In my opinion they’d be better off putting their head down and working their way up instead.March 1, 2007