Introverts don't like
How to take care of your introvert
(Jonathan Rauch - 2003)
How to take care of your introvert
Do you know someone who needs several hours to be alone every day? Someone who appreciates quiet conversations about feelings or ideas? Someone who can give spectacular lectures in front of a large audience, but seems awkward in groups and clumsy in small talk? Someone who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to relax? Someone who grumbles or scowls or gets grim or flinches when they are showered with courtesies by friendly people?
If so, do you sometimes tell this person that he is "too serious"? Or do you ask if everything is okay? Do you think he's aloof, arrogant, rude? Are you stepping up your efforts to lure him out of the reserve?
If you can answer yes to these questions, chances are you know an introvert - and are not treating them properly. Science has gained a lot of knowledge in recent years about introverts, their habits, and their requirements. Brain scans have even discovered that introverted people take in information differently (no joke). If you are lagging behind on current understanding on this important matter, rest assured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are one of the most misunderstood and disadvantaged social groups in America, if not the world.
I know that. My name is Jonathan and I am an introvert.
Oh, I've denied it for years. At least I can interact socially well. I'm not grumpy or misanthropic. Usually at least. I am anything but shy. I love long conversations about familiar thoughts or passionate interests. But in the end I did admit that I was introverted and confessed it to friends and colleagues. As a result, I have freed myself from countless debilitating misunderstandings and prejudices. And now I want to tell you what you need to know in order to respond to your own introverted family members, friends and colleagues with feeling and support. Imagine someone you know, respect and deal with every day is introverted and you may drive them crazy. It is worthwhile to be able to interpret the warning signs.
What is introversion? In its modern meaning, the concept goes back to the psychologist Carl Jung in the 20s of the last century. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the popular Myers-Briggs type indicator. Introverts aren't necessarily shy. To be shy means to be restless, scared, or self-deprecating in company. This is generally not the case with introverted people. Introverts are not misanthropic either. Nonetheless, some of us agree that Sartre is right when he says, “Hell, that's other people at breakfast”. Rather, being an introvert means finding other people tiresome.
Extroverts revive through contact with their fellow human beings and wither or fade through being alone. They often seem bored with themselves and with their own kind. Leave an extrovert alone for 2 minutes and he'll look for his phone. In contrast, we introverts have to switch off and recharge after an hour or two of social attention. My own formula is about two hours alone for every hour of social activity. That is not anti-social. It's not a sign of depression. It doesn't require medical treatment. For introverts, being alone with our thoughts is as relaxing as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto is: "I am ok, you are ok - but in small portions, please."
How many people are introverts? I did extensive research for answers in the form of a quick google search. The answer: about 25 percent. Or: not quite half. Or my favorite: "A minority of the normal population but a majority of the gifted population."
Are introverts misunderstood? Absolutely. That seems to be our lot in life. "It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert," write education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (You are also the source of the quote from the last paragraph.) Extroverts, on the other hand, are easy to see through for introverts. Extroverts spend a great deal of their time figuring out who they are in extensive, and often inevitable, interactions with others. They are as enigmatic as lap dogs. But vice versa, no shoe is made of it. Extroverts don't know much about being introverted. They assume that society, especially its own, is always desired. They don't understand why someone would like to be alone. Rather, they take offense at this idea. Every time I've tried to explain the matter to an extrovert, I've got the feeling that he didn't really get it. They listen for a moment and then fall back into yapping and yowling.
Are introverted people suppressed? I'm afraid so. For one thing, extroverted politicians are overrepresented. Only the talkative feel comfortable in politics. Take George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. They only seem to really come to life among other people. To list the few introverts who have made it into top politics - Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon - only proves the assumption. Introverts are simply not naturals in politics, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan. Its fabulous reserve and seclusion may have been signs of a deep introverted streak (I've read of many actors who are introverted and many introverts feel like actors in company.)
So extroverts rule public life. That's too bad. If we introverts were in charge, the world would undoubtedly be a quieter, more reasonable, and more peaceful place. Coolidge is credited with the quote "Don't you understand that four fifths of our problems in life would go away if we just sat down and stood still?" He is also credited with the phrase "If you don't say anything at all, you won't have to repeat anything . "(The only thing a real introvert finds worse than talking about yourself is repeating yourself.)
With their unquenchable appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life. They are therefore prone to false expectations. In our extroverted society it is assumed as normal to be open-minded and is therefore worth striving for. It is a sign of happiness, confidence, and leadership. Extroverts are seen as big-hearted, lively, warm, and emotional. “A sociable person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words such as "reserved", "loner", "reserved", "taciturn", "closed", "private" - restrictive, ungracious words. They suggest emotional frugality and an inferior personality. I guess introverted women suffer especially. In special circles, especially in the American Midwest, a man can take refuge under the protective hood of the strong and quiet guy. Introverted women lack this alternative. You are all the more likely to be perceived as shy, withdrawn, and haughty.
Are Introverts Arrogant? Barely. I suppose this common misconception is related to the fact that we are more intelligent, reflective, independent, level-headed, spiritualized, and subtle than extroverts. It has to do with our renouncement of small talk. A waiver that extroverts often regard as disregard. We like to think before we talk, while extroverts think while talking. That's why their meetings never last less than 6 hours. "Introverts" writes the astute contemporary Thomas P. Crouser in the online review of the new book Why should extroverts earn everything money? (Still no joke), “are regularly distracted by the semi-internal dialogue among extroverts. Introverts don't complain outwardly but roll their eyes and secretly curse the darkness. ”Exactly like that.
The worst part is that extroverts have no idea what agony they are sending us through. Sometimes we gasp in the fog of 98 percent content-free talk and wonder if extroverts are even listening to themselves. Even so, we stoically endure because the books on etiquette - written by extroverts no doubt - consider declining verbal skirmishes to be impolite and gaps in conversation to be uncomfortable. Our dream is that one day our condition will be more fully understood. That a movement for the rights of introverts may have borne fruit and blossom. Then it won't be rude to say, “I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But please now shhh. "
How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support them and that I respect their choice? First of all, you have to realize that it is not a choice and it is not a lifestyle either. It's a basic guide.
Second, if you see an introvert lost in thought, avoid making comments like "What's wrong?" Or "Are you okay?"
Third, you shouldn't say anything else.
Translated with the kind permission of Jonathan Rauch.
German Translation with kind permission of Jonathan Rauch.
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