Introverts – redressing the balance

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Transcript

If I asked you to describe a great leader, I'd be willing to bet certain traits come to mind … someone charismatic, dynamic, inspiring, a confident public speaker. You're probably imagining a man too, but that's a bias we'll save for another talk! We tend to think of great leaders as people who naturally take to the stage, who draw other people to them by their sheer presence, who are extroverts. But history has also been transformed by people who don't fit these descriptions. People like Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi. These people would have described themselves as shy, quietly spoken … as introverts.

Of course we're drawn to extroverts. They're usually charming and persuasive, fun to be around. They're not quietly in the corner somewhere reading a book where we might not notice them. Introverts are mostly happy to let the extroverts take the attention; they'd rather not be in the spotlight, they'd rather finish that book. If they become leaders, it's not because they want to be the centre of attention, it's because they feel compelled to act. They lead not because they enjoy giving orders but because circumstances have put them in a position to make change. If they're the boss, they allow space for the ideas of others to grow because they're not trying to make their mark. An introvert sounds like a pretty good boss, right? You won't need to worry about them stealing your ideas or talking over you in a meeting.

Some of our great creators are introverts too. People like the writer JK Rowling, the great thinker Darwin and the designer of the first Apple computer, Steve Wozniak. It turns out coming up with good ideas is easier when you're engaged in quiet, solo contemplation than when you're leading the cheerleading squad. Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with cheerleaders! Extroverts are great – some of my favourite people are extroverts. But why is the world so set up for extroverts and so hard for introverts? Why are we always encouraging our kids to speak up, join in, work as a team?

Nowadays, most schools and most workplaces are set up with the extrovert in mind. Children no longer sit in rows in desks, they sit in groups of four or six, doing group projects. Even subjects like maths and creative writing are taught with an emphasis on group collaboration, even though most writers sit alone in front of their computer or typewriter, with nothing between them and the blank page. A kid who prefers to go off into a corner and work alone starts to look like a problem. What's wrong with Janie? Why isn't she joining in? Studies show teachers think extroverts make better students, even though introverts actually tend to get higher grades. We're telling our introverted kids something is wrong with them, that they need to be more sociable, more outgoing. We're giving them fewer opportunities for the quiet contemplation they need in order to produce the best work and be their best selves.

And then at work we do the same. Most offices today are open plan, everyone working and creating noise in one big room, attending team-building workshops or group brainstorming sessions; the introverts' worst nightmares. The introverts at school are judged negatively by their teachers and when they reach the workplace, they're passed over for promotion into leadership positions. But introverts typically take fewer risks and make more careful decisions, and don't we need those traits too?

I'm not saying let's get rid of extroverts and grab all those talkative, sociable performers at primary school and send them off to the library for four hours a day of solitude until they learn to tone it down. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying we're doing something like the opposite of that to introverts and we need to stop. We need to allow them space to be themselves and then we'll end up getting the most out of our extroverts and our introverts. Let's teach all our kids how to work with others and how to work on their own. Let's create space in offices and at conferences for people to work on their own when they want to and give them the opportunity to come together to share ideas. Let's give staff 'away days', where they go off into the woods, walk up a mountain or wherever, to work on something alone, as well as the 'team-building day' where everyone learns to dance salsa together.

The future is complicated, with a lot of huge, complex problems to solve. Let's make sure we've got our best people working on those problems in the way that suits them best. And then we've got to make sure we listen to our extroverts and our introverts and everyone who sits somewhere in between on the scale. We're going to need all of them.

Discussion

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Advanced: C1

Submitted by fridagomezl on Fri, 15/10/2021 - 10:58

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I consider myself at the beginning someone introverted but when I start to feel comfortable I can be more extrovert, I enjoy to help each other, lead a group, but make people feel that we are on the same line, I don't like people who feel more than you only because they're the leader.
Also, I think that I have to be less shame, cause sometimes I stand still for been shame.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 15:25

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I'm totally introvert, but I realised that extrovert are very loved person. But I know that introvert are better than extrovert.

Submitted by Hennadii on Wed, 19/05/2021 - 19:39

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I'm 100% introvert and this article right about me. I hate noise and open space offices. That's why I'm glad we can work from home how despite the reason of this isolation is quite serious. I also don't like meetings where I need to listen to my talkative colleagues. And all this team-building stuff ... hoo-boy ... just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing. I mean, I'm not a rude or an asocial person - I usually get well with my co-workers. I just don't like being disturbed by crapy talks or gossips or someone's shouts. I like to sit quietly and do my job without making unnecessary noise.

Submitted by yomisaurio on Fri, 30/04/2021 - 05:26

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I was all my life beeing an introvert person, but when I started the university I realised that if you want to be hear, you have to be loud and to talk to anothers, so I changed my personality. But also, it depends if I'm with my friends or with peopole that I dont know.

Submitted by El Cuy Mágico on Fri, 19/02/2021 - 20:42

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I’d say both introvert and extrovert, I mean it depends on where or whit whom I am. I really appreciate loneliness cause I feel I can reflect and think more slowly before I act. But I also like to chat with others and exchange ideas. Moreover, I like to debate with people who think in another way that I do.

Submitted by Jack Milgram on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 09:12

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I'm mostly an introvert until it's the weekend. I just don't have enough time on weekdays to spend them with people because of work. Moreover, I don't really need it. But when Saturday and Sunday come, I'm turning into a hurricane (in a good way).

Submitted by Laetitia on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 14:32

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I consider myself as both lol, just depends on the situation. As a creative person, I don't like to be in the spotlight but it's not complicated for me to give my opinion or give a speech.

Submitted by Ilenias on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 16:14

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I am 100% introvert. I am more productive when working alone, but I like to confront and to share ideas with other people as well. As mentioned in the recording, today's workplaces are mainly made for extroverts. The same is true for the typical job candidates companies are looking for: they must possess good team skills. I mean, it is important to develop nice interpersonal skills especially at the workplace, but it is equally important to promote an introvert-mentality as well. Therefore, I totally agree with the speaker when she says towards the end of the recording that it is fundamental to encourage extroverts to work similarly to introverts and vice-versa.

Submitted by Maychin on Fri, 23/10/2020 - 16:57

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I am more of an introvert.I have my reasons why I said this.When I had a problem to solve I got a solution thinking deeply alone.Most of the good ideas came out as I sat and thought in a quiet place.I love spending my time reading listening to music watching movies like Godfaher and Forrest Gump. But a few days ago I became confused about my personality traits because I am totally tired of staying at home.I just felt that is a disaster to do all the routine again and again.I cannot stand it anymore.It is absolutely boring to stay at home for a number of days.What should I do to spend my long last day? What will be the best ways to improve my English during this pademic period?Please give me advice.Thank you!

Hello Maychin,

People of all personality types can learn languages successfully, so don't worry about that side of things. I think the most important thing is to find motivation to work or study every day, so my suggestion is a simple one: do things that you enjoy, but do them in English. Read books that you like, but in English. Watch films that you like, in English. Keep a diary, if you enjoy that, in English.

If you've watched or read something in your own language and enjoyed it, now watch or read it in English. It will be easier to understand and it will be fun as well.

 

Most of all, keep going. Learning and studying is a great way to use the time we have now we're spending more time in our houses.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by flavie.A on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 00:05

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In my humble opinion, I would say both extrover and introvert traits are useful to everyone depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves in a given time. We need both traits to remain stable and deeply explore our inner selves in order to sought out the best in us and make good use our dominant part. Deep and serious meditation is needed when it comes to decision making. In this case ,it's very important we put ourself together and such moments call for a reasonable amount of introversity which will not require from us being shy or non associable . On the other hand , we might come to find ourselves in a midst of strangers and feel very comfortable and easy in fluent conversations and share very good times . This doesn't mean we put ourselves on a spotlight. The reason being that a human being is never really given to only one trait of character.

Submitted by Cami on Sat, 03/10/2020 - 11:33

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I think that I am sometimes more introvert, instead of other times, during which i am more extrovert. I like studying alone, even if I surely would manage to study also with other people. Regarding to the characteristics of my personalities, however, i think that I am more extrovert than introvert because I love socialize with people, even if I also love having my spaces and stay alone with myself. I think that, sometimes, it is necessary to stay only with oneself.

Submitted by Armandito on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 21:47

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I consider myself an introvert person. It is so true what she says. The way she describes both the labor and the educational system. I think there is still a lot to be changed. I hope someday we learn to respect one each other because as she said the future is complicating and we will need leaders who really know how to find solutions and for this to be achieved both introvert and extroverts are needed.

Submitted by Vixy on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 09:11

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I think, the borders between introverts and extroverts are not so obvious. An introvert could be in the center of a party and an extrovert is able to create amazing thing alone as well. The main difference between them is their energy-gaining method. Extroverts need people around them, they charge themselves from impulses of their environment and relationships. In contrast, introverts can find the recreation in a creative activity such as writing, painting, analyzing something and so on. Nevertheless I agree with that our western culture is better for extroverts. For instance, team building activities in most companies are terrible for introverts and HR experts should be aware of that.

Submitted by yoyoraw on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 22:08

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I always thought that I am an introvert person, because my personality lean more to introverts characteristics . I am shy and do not feel comfortable when I am with a lot of people .So I do have some friends, but I am not interested in making many friendships, and prefer to be with a few .

Submitted by Karina Yazmin on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 23:40

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This page is so good because the explanation of each topic is clear and consice, the exercise are a good complement of the topic, and help you to practice and to learn faster.

Submitted by LILIAN TREFF on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 15:37

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In my opinion, introvert and extrovert, following the line of Yung's psychological types are processes .... The introvert has its energy turned inward and the extroverted outward. It can be said that the introverted type would be that person who needs to turn to his inner world and explore it, because his references are there. While the extrovert type experiences in its external world the referential elements that it needs. This does not mean that the introvert is shy and the extrovert is communicative. Within this perspective, I believe that I have a tendency towards the introverted process.

Submitted by Evgeny N on Thu, 26/12/2019 - 11:51

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In my opinion I am somewhere in the middle of this scale. I think that a lot of people are in the same position. It's impossible to be only extrovert or introvert. But it is very important to understand your weakest points and make all which possible to improve them or to use them when they are mostly needed. I mean that sometimes it is vitally important to act as introvert. You have to clearly understand it. Especially when you need to contemplate and not to make a bad decision. Sometimes you have to tell your extrovert part: "Act. Be the leader!" and sometimes you have to tell: "Be quite. Don't interrupt my introvert part!". In my opinion it is a big part of emotional intelligence to clearly understand it. Without it is impossible to act and make right decisions. Don't try always to be an extrovert!

Submitted by HelianG on Mon, 09/12/2019 - 22:29

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I think I'm more introvert, I prefer to stay at home, rarely I go outside with friends and when I do it I go only with close friends, I'm really bad at making friends because I don't talk to people if they don't talk to me first, also I don't like to express my feelings I'm not a person who often say to his friends or family that I love them or something I just assume that they know, high key I don't like to be in the spotlight so I hate speaking in front of public, I'm capable of doing it and I think that most of the time I do it well, however, I still hate it

Submitted by MUHAMMAD ALIF … on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 08:11

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I have completed the following lessons of A job interview, Introverts – redressing the balance, and Innovation in business. The level that I chose was Advance C1 Listening.

Submitted by anitaf on Fri, 23/08/2019 - 16:53

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Definetly, I have always been an introvert which caused me problems at school and at work but mainly at school when I had to share with others, I always liked and did better studying on my own, I used to get high grades!!!! Years later, as an adult, I learned to overcome shyness and could grow a lot. Now I feel great since I found balance in my life.

Submitted by Sridhar reddy on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 22:48

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I'm more of an introvert and I like being an introvert.

Submitted by Marie17 on Sat, 29/06/2019 - 17:05

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I am rather introvert and it is a problem for me. I think that sure enough in the society extravert people are best considered and succeed. But there is always exceptions! I think that at school it is important to help shy child to developpe social relations but also let him in his personal space which he needs. When I was a student I think that theater course should help me to be more confident . Thanks Marie

Submitted by Ken Moore on Thu, 20/06/2019 - 08:47

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An excellent article. Well done.

Submitted by Ely Princess on Fri, 24/05/2019 - 12:34

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I am an introvert but i try to open up on subjects that matter to me. This is not to impose my view but to be heard. I realize everytime i open up that i learn more when i share with others. It helps me grow in my quiet moments.

Submitted by nikoslado on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 20:02

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I guess I'm somewhere in between, as I always respect those they don't talk a lot, listen to the others and at the same time they are helpful, funny companionable and moderate.

Submitted by VyacheslavKr on Fri, 10/05/2019 - 10:43

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Thank you for such a lesson. I am an introvert. And I enjoy studying British English.

Submitted by hasbi93 on Thu, 18/04/2019 - 04:30

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I'm actually an extrovert because I like being with other people therefore never get lonely. But I prefer to talk less.

Submitted by Zoeh on Tue, 16/04/2019 - 23:40

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I’m definitively an introvert too, shy and without self confidence... but I try and cure myself !

Submitted by RobRoy on Tue, 02/04/2019 - 17:18

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I'm definitely an introvert and it helped me a lot when I realised that. It's funny but I'd rather prefer to be among extroverts than introverts. I get along with them better.
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