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Saturday, March 24, 2012

As an introvert, should I "act" extroverted?

The above is a question that I dance around all the time.  Well, "dance" probably isn't the right word, because in reality I do act extroverted, all the time as a matter of fact.  Still, there are times when I think about getting more militant about the whole subject, well at least in my own "introverted personal thought bubble" kind of way.

Yes, just because I can stand up in front of groups of folks I mostly don't know...and do it, based on the feedback I have received for a very long time, reasonably well...doesn't mean that I actually enjoy doing it.  I claim far less ability in one area where extroverts excel, namely that of "small talk".  Words like "awkward", "uncomfortable", and "forced" come to mind just about any time I have to engage in casual conversations with people I really don't know.  I can do it, but then again I can also get through a colonoscopy, but that doesn't mean that I want to engage in either at regular intervals.

Another area where I can get somewhat militant in my thinking is that of "collaboration".  Yes enjoying collaboration is, to the business world, what loving puppies and kittens is to the world of pre-teen girls.  I can collaborate in a group very effectively with others, but it takes a significant amount of extra effort on my part.  This is because I feel an inherent pressure to talk to many others (not just a single person, which would be far easier), almost as if I was in a social situation.  I guess group collaboration is, in a way, a social situation.  Anyway, I watched a terrific TED Talk on the subject of introversion last week, one that also touches on introversion and collaboration.

I never really understood why I get so high-strung when working in a group until I watched this & saw just how stressful this kind of thing can be for an introvert.

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