Why does the world need introverts?

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Quite simply, because introverts have their own unique strengths and the world is out of balance without them. Introversion and extroversion are like yin and yang – both need the other to be complete and both lose something if the other is not present.

We have got used to the balance between them being heavily tipped in favour of extroversion, at least in many Western cultures, so much so that we no longer even know what we’re missing. But this is to the detriment of everyone. That said, tipping the scales too far in favour of introversion would be just as bad – we need a balance of the two, with equal weight and validity afforded to both.

So what are some of the strengths that introverts bring?

  • Independence

As introverts, we draw our energy from within ourselves rather than getting it from the external world as extroverts do. This makes us self-contained as we do not need other people to energise ourselves, and means we are generally able to work independently, entertain ourselves and make independent decisions.

  • Listening/observing

Most introverts listen more than we talk, sitting back in a conversation until we have something worthwhile to say. We also tend to observe people and things around us before deciding whether or not to participate. As such, we often hear more and see more than extroverts who are usually in ‘doing’ mode.

  • Reflecting/thinking

As our focus is inwards rather than outwards, we like to think analytically and reflect on our experiences to make sense of what’s going on in the world outside. This, coupled with listening/observing, leads us to question assumptions, make connections, plan or strategise and problem-solve. Our insight and wisdom is of real value to the world.

  • Depth

Connected to reflecting/thinking, our internal focus means that we have a preference for depth rather than breadth. Our powers of concentration and persistence enable us to focus longer and more deeply on one thing than most extroverts. Many important scientific breakthroughs have come about simply because someone persevered with the problem long enough and hard enough.

  • Slowing things down

Introverts need less stimulation than extroverts so we generally like to work at a slower pace, focusing on quality not quantity. We are calm and measured which can serve as a valuable antidote to the fast, furious and stressful pace of modern living.

  • Caution

Linked to slowing things down, we are naturally cautious and will stop to look before we leap. This means we are better at sticking to plans and less likely to get carried away by our emotions in decision making, an important factor in assessing risk accurately. Some now suggest that perhaps even the banking crisis might have been avoided if this introvert strength had been equally valued in our society.

  • Sensitivity

Because of our internal focus, introverts tend to be more self-aware and sensitive to what’s going on in the world around us than many extroverts. This can lead to the ability to empathise more easily with others, often coupled with a strength of conscience.

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