“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
By: Gina Angeli, Bay Tek Entertainment
So, in this edition, I share a bit of my personal story. Bear with me, there is a purpose 😊 My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years. As someone who is fascinated by human behavior and relationships, I am quite certain that I do not exactly make it easy, at times, to be married to. I tend to want to examine the state and pattern of our interactions during times where my husband would like to just resolve whatever it is we are “discussing.” I then, of course, after some reflection, want to go back and “process” the patterns a day or two after we have, from his perception, finished the discussion.
In one of these reflections, it became clear that some of the challenges in our patterns were caused by the fact that I am a classic introvert and my husband is a classic extrovert. I prefer to process and then speak. When I do share, it is usually about 90% “cooked.” My husband, on the other hand, processes as he speaks. He shares as he “walks into the kitchen.” My perception, because of how I process, is that his thought/opinion/decision is fully thought through and almost complete. His perception is that my thought/opinion is just at the beginning stages. As you can imagine, this leads to many energetic discussions.
When we are in the planning stages of any vacation, my husband, like clockwork, always asks “who should we take with us?” while I am imagining a getaway with time for quiet and reconnecting with just my family. Our “date night” is the same- “who should we go to dinner with?” versus “where can we get a quiet table for the two of us?” After a dinner party, my husband is absolutely energized; I am exhausted, even when it is with people I love spending time with.
As I look at our children, while both very social, my daughter is clearly an extrovert who hops from school to playing with friends immediately. My son is absolutely an introvert and prefers to have quiet time in his room to recharge before he plays with friends. Their learning styles are very different, one collaborative, one more independent.
I could go on and on as introverts and extroverts truly move through the world differently. Susan Cain, in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, describes the value of truly leveraging the unique perspective of introverts. She argues that the Modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people. Introverts are viewed as passive followers while extroverts are viewed as leaders willing to take risk. The reality is that, like everything, we must learn to appreciate the differences. This starts first with ourselves.
Susan Cain’s TED Talk was brought to me by a co-worker. His comment as he shared it with me was “I found something to help people understand me.” He was not alone (as much as he felt it) in our organization and he would not be alone in yours. Look around and recognize the gift that introverts can be. They will want to have the spotlight to shine on others. They will value a culture of internal drive and character over a culture of personality. They will bring creativity, reflection and thoughtfulness. We can all appreciate that today.