Igniting the Introverts!

Guest post by Vinay Kumar. Posted with permission:
Speaking from personal experience, it seems we introverts are frequently misunderstood and overlooked.  As an introvert, I live in my head a lot. I don’t smile much and I am quiet by nature. At meetings I sit back, listen to various views, and only then do I speak.
In the process, I have had people ask me if I was OK, if everything was alright, if I was upset, and so on. Others have thought, because I don’t jump into conversations forcefully or frequently, that I am not engaged, or I lack leadership qualities.  Other times I have been viewed as uncaring, distant, too serious, angry, pensive, detached, aloof, fussy, inflexible, picky, pessimistic, hesitant, inflexible…to name just a few of the words I can find to describe how my introvert nature has been interpreted.
Yet from my perspective, I am listening at a deep level, being thorough, diplomatic, precise, “anchor of reality”, working towards making good decisions, so everyone benefits.
Therefore, I can’t help but wonder, in today’s 100-mph extroverted culture, to what degree introverts are overlooked and misunderstood?
I’d love your comments below!
Vinay Kumar is senior director with Marketing General, Alexandria, Virginia. He blogs at http://vinaykumarcoach.blogspot.com. Email: vkumar@marketinggeneral.com

Comments (2)

The worst thing for me is the meetings. After everyone else has said at least one thing, people usually look to me and say, “Well, what do you think?” I hate that. I’ll share when I have something worth sharing. Then, I force myself to say something I haven’t thought out yet and it comes out all wrong.
As much thought as I have given to my introversion, though, I also start to wonder if we are too harsh on extroverts sometimes.

Hi E.B.,
Thanks for your contribution to the post and moving this conversation forward.
As I read your reply, my reaction was “wow”, finally instead of introverts being overlooked, your team (which seems is made up of bunch of extroverts) clearly has come to recognize and appreciate your introverted nature . What a great place to be. What a blessing.
Just by the fact that after everyone has spoken they then turn to you conveys to me they have come to realize your thoughtfulness and the immense value you provide. I have too often seen, as well as have personally experienced, the complete opposite where extroverted meeting participants simply overlook the introverts, and sometimes unfairly passing judgements such as “he doen’t seem to be with the program”, “has he checked out?”, “he just doesn’t have the energy”, and so on.
As for your feeling put on the spot and feeling the pressure to respond, perhaps you can respond as follows:
“Thanks gang for asking for my input. While I would like some add’l time to process what all I heard, I am happy to share my initial reactions & thoughts. And then once I have processed the information fully, I’ll then send out an email providing a more thoughtout reply.
By this type of a response, you would have given them some initial suggestions & thougths as well as have set the stage where they will be expecting your more thoughtout response. Perhaps this will take the pressure off that you feel by having to respond quickly, knowing you’ll be sending a follow-up email to the group.
As for being “harsh on extroverts”, curious what you mean here, i.e. what do you feel, think and how does this show up for you? Hoping you’ll share. Thanks in advance E.B.

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