Introverts might possibly be the most misunderstood people on the planet! When we think of an introvert, many people envision a shy, shrinking and shaking little “hobbit” that is afraid of people, unable to engage in conversation and terrified of deep and lasting relationships. Introverts are also described using such unfortunate words as “reclusive”, “hermits” or “loners.” This vision and description of the “mythical” introvert have persisted through the ages in spite of clear and abundant evidence to the contrary.
Before I begin to rant like a victimized introvert who occasionally feels persecuted and stereotyped by society, I have to confess that we as introverts are also guilty of making our solitude-seeking lives quite difficult.
Yes, it’s true!
We (introverts) are known to give ourselves a hard time when it comes to accepting and even promoting our true nature. We tell ourselves that we’re not “normal” because we often prefer our own company. We also don’t like to push ourselves forward too much and admit to enjoying the quieter side of life.
This isn’t helped by the fact that we do live in an extravert’s world, where you have to be seen to push yourself forward if you want to succeed and there is an assumption of “weirdness” in those who like to distance themselves from the crowd and take life at their own pace.
But the time has come for Introverts to stop thinking about what’s wrong with us for a few moments and to shift our focus to what is right about us. There is a lot that is great about introversion but it gets buried or lost in the noise of today’s loud, fast-paced and boisterous world.
Here are 5 great qualities that introverts all over the world can be proud of! And here are also 5 great introverts that we all can admire.
Think Kathryn Hepburn. In a time when women were expected to marry young and focus on their families, Kathryn Hepburn was committed to her acting career and remained fiercely independent despite her less-than-orthodox relationship with Spencer Tracey. She is quoted as saying, “I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” This introvert changed the rules!
The very defining feature of introversion is that you are content in your own company.
There is an incredible amount of power to be found in this as it means you are perfectly placed to deal with life’s little problems without feeling like you absolutely always need someone at your side to do it.
That’s not to say introverts don’t need and crave company or don’t suffer from the lack of it, but it does mean that our willingness and desire for self-sufficiency gives us a level of independence that should not be ignored. In fact, it should be praised.
2. Excellent Listeners
Think Johnny Carson. The famous host of the Tonight Show interviewed famous and sometimes controversial people every night for 30 years. He rarely worked from a script, adopting a casual and conversational approach with intensive guest interaction. But his introversion was clear to people close to him. The head writer of the late-night show described Johnny as “very fast and very funny” but after the show, “He’d get into his car with a palpable sense of relief feeling, ‘That was good; now I’d like to be alone in the dark listening to jazz.’ He didn’t socialize much. He saved his energy for his performance.” Johnny Carson was definitely a great listener—and a classic introvert!
This is especially true if you’re looking at what makes you appealing as a potential partner or friend.
Introverts generally make excellent listeners because we prefer to observe, analyse and listen to the world and people around us.
There is a massive difference between just keeping quiet while you wait for another person to stop talking so you can start–and really listening. It seems the latter is becoming something of a lost art in the modern world, which is why introverts should be proud of their natural aptitude for it.
An introvert is more likely to sit down with you, listen to what you have to say and come up with a considered and pragmatic response. Who wouldn’t love that?
3. Strong Leaders
Think Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft the world’s biggest software company. Gates can be quiet and bookish but also outspoken and passionate when discussing his business. He is quoted as saying, “I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be a willingness to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, and push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.” Spoken like a true Introvert in charge!
It may seem a bit odd to think about an introvert being a great leader, but the truth is that numerous studies and polls have found that introverts often make excellent leaders. You must separate the image of a textbook “leader” as someone who is going around barking orders at people with a throbbing vein in their forehead and spittle repainting every available surface.
Think of what most people really want in a leader: respect, consideration, strong communication skills, decision-making, analytical, creative, problem solving, etc. These are all characteristics to be found in the classic introvert!
An introverted leader will not bark orders at you. Because of their strong leadership qualities, they will naturally command your respect and admiration.
Their presence will be felt. And their leadership skills will secure them a place in history as a great leader in business, government, the military and many other fields.
Think Mahatma Gandhi. The undisputed leader of India’s independence movement, a profound philosopher and a prolific writer, Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful crusade—founding the civil disobedience movement–to end British rule in India. But this quiet and soft-spoken man is also known as a powerful but humble Introvert who freed a nation. His visionary approach has had a deep effect on future “greats” such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “My life is my message.” He was, indeed, a man of few words—a humble and powerful introvert!
Something you can rely on with an introvert is that they aren’t going to be steering the conversation towards themselves at every available chance! If they want to know anything, they want to know it about YOU. This is very consistent with being great listeners. Admittedly, Introverts do not open up about themselves or share their feelings freely with lots of people. Introverts do prefer to keep personal feelings to themselves or to share them with close friends. This is probably why introverts would prefer to learn about other people and their thoughts and ideas.
And Introverts don’t feel the need to talk the loudest, shout from the highest mountaintop or do crazy antics to grab all the attention in the room.
Is this modesty? Yes and no. It can be called reticence, reserve, restraint or humility. And it is not that introverted persons lack confidence or self-esteem. Even Introverts who are quite successful and accomplished will not storm into a room and demand all the attention. Instead, they will find a small group of friends or an individual whom they know well then discreetly join the conversation. In short, one never needs to struggle for the attention when an Introvert is present because he/she will not compete against others to be noticed or get attention.
Think Steven Spielberg. Director and producer, Steven Spielberg is one of the wealthiest, most successful and most influential people in the American movie industry. He is also one of the most creative and daring risk-takers in the movie scene. Spielberg has made a wide range of movies that have made audiences feel and experience an even wider range of emotions. He says that he most enjoys spending time alone getting lost in movies. A classic and creative introvert!
Introverts occupy a different space from Extraverts and view the world in a much different way. This is part of the creativity, independence and analytical skills that so many Introverts share. There is a great amount of value to be found in having an alternative viewpoint when it comes to solving problems and discussing issues.
Introverts generally spend a lot of their time quietly analysing themselves, their environment and the world around them so it’s very easy for them to identify something that someone else could easily have missed, or to look at an issue from a completely new and different perspective.
They may not have told you but an introvert may already have solved your problem, created an innovative piece of technology or written the next bestseller!
So there you have it: 5 great qualities of introverts but that are often ignored or brushed aside. And you also have 5 great examples of successful Introverts who have these qualities. There are, of course, many more; Introverts have a massive amount to contribute and should not be dismissed simply because they don’t wish to shout it to the world or demand the world’s attention.
The time really has come for society to recognize the great qualities and contributions of both personality types. There is a message here for everyone.
Listen up all Extraverts: Introverts have many great skills and qualities.
Here Ye Introverts: Recognize your great qualities and share them with the world.
And give yourselves a big hug, handshake, or high five; you have earned it!