There is an argument that the world needs to listen more to the introverted among us; that, in their contemplation, the quiet ones have thought deeply about things and therefore have an important contribution to make – even maybe that they have a deeper understanding of things because of all this contemplation they are doing. The suggestion is that the world needs to adapt to accommodate the introverted: meetings should be modified, office layouts should be changed etc. They are arguing that the world needs to be kinder or softer or more empathetic in order to make their lives easier and thereby facilitate their contribution. They highlight all the strengths of the introverted – thoughtfulness, consideration, conscientiousness, empathy – and argue that the world would be a much better place if only we had more of these qualities.
Well, true, but is this not ignoring the weaknesses of the introverted (and I speak as an introvert …) – the procrastination, the overthinking, the anxiety and the hesitation? And the pain the ‘introverted’ suffer because of their anxiety or their insecurities? And the fact the world might be a worse place for a proliferation of these qualities?
And is this not giving responsibility for our reticence to others, rather than taking the responsibility on ourselves? So is the answer not that the introverted need to learn to speak up? That they need to understand what is holding them back and tackle it? Rather than hoping that the world will come to them?
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself.”Tolstoy
Because the problem is that the people at the other end of the spectrum, the ones completely unafraid of sharing their opinions (whether they know what they are talking about or not) think the world should be more resilient or tougher – in effect, that the world should do more to accommodate them. And the world as a whole can’t be both more resilient and more sensitive at the same time.
The people at the two extremes – the sensitive, quiet ones and the thick-skinned ones – are both equally flawed, so neither can reasonably expect the world to be made in their image – and they need to tackle the flaw that is in their control, not the one that isn’t.
My conclusion, therefore, is that the quiet ones need to learn to be more resilient and to speak up for themselves; and the talkers need to learn to shut up occasionally and listen to others – especially when they have nothing to say.
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Published by Peter Runkel. Introvert or HSP or … something. Reluctant business consultant. Lives life in PowerPoint.