We may live in what Time writer Bryan Walsh calls the “land of the loud and the home of the talkative,” but social scientists have discovered that introverts are often better friends, wiser managers, and more creative thinkers than extroverts.
“Introverts are better at listening, and can spend long periods of time in solitary work, which turns out to be the best way to come up with fresh ideas or master a skill,” writes Walsh. “Introverts forge deep and rewarding relationships, and often make smarter decisions than extroverts, because they’re more cautious and deliberate.”
Just don’t call them shy, cautions Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Shy people have anxiety about social judgment, while introverts “are just differently social,” Cain told NPR. In other words, they’d simply rather be alone. Some sources estimate that 30 percent of people share these traits, including well known public figures like Joe DiMaggio and Gandhi, and many high-powered business leaders such as Bill Gates.
Are You An Introvert?
Answer True or False to these questions to find out:
1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
3. I enjoy solitude.
4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status.
5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
6. People tell me that I’m a good listener.
7. I’m not a big risk taker.
8. I enjoy work that allows me to dive in with few interruptions.
9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale with only one or two close friends or family members.
10. People describe me as soft-spoken or mellow.
11. I prefer not to show my work or discuss it with others until it is finished.
12. I dislike conflict.
13. I do my best work alone.
14. I tend to think before I speak.
15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
16. I often let calls go to voice mail.
17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
18. I don’t enjoy multitasking.
19. I concentrate easily.
20. In classrooms, I prefer lectures to seminars.
Score: The more often you answered True, the more introverted you are. If you found yourself with a roughly equal number of True and False answers, then you may be an ambivert—a person who exhibits traits of both an introvert and an extrovert. Note: This informal quiz, excerpted from Quiet by Susan Cain, is not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.