I recently read the book Confident You: An Introvert’s Guide to Success in Life and Business. As you may have guessed from the title, this is another one of those quasi-self-help books about how to overcome the aspects of introversion that often leave us at a disadvantage in the professional world (not knowing what to say, being perceived as aloof, etc).
It was good, as far as that kind of book goes. The tips were actually helpful and I’ll definitely come back to them in the future. But books like this always make me wonder, when introverts make up half the population, why isn’t society more accommodating to us? To be clear, I’m not advocating for some total upheaval of the way society works–I know that social skills do help people succeed in life and business, and there’s good reason for that. I’m just advocating for a little more awareness that “quiet” does not mean “uninvolved”, and perhaps more events structured around the kind of socialization introverts enjoy (say, small groups instead of hundred-person events).
I feel that although it is rarely said explicitly, the challenges many introverts have socializing do hold us back professionally. And yet after all this time, the only way for us to level the playing field is to “overcome” our natural tendencies and put on a facade of extraversion. But what about those who can’t fake it? How many introverts are passed over for promotions or brushed off at networking events, and what effect does this have on the amount of introverted Chief Officers? In politics, from local to national, how many amazing introverted leaders lose elections because they aren’t as naturally personable? I often wonder about the effect all this missed talent must have on society. And all because of a weird trait that half of us are born with–it’s crazy.
More than anything, I want someone to study this and show some legitimate, quantifiable effect for the world to consider. I want to know the facts about how overlooking introverts hurts us economically, or academically, or in any aspect of society really*, because that’s probably the only way people will actually consider this a problem. I don’t have the time, ability, or resources to find out… but boy do I wonder.
*(Also, maybe this is a problem that’s just in my head, and there actually is no effect due to introverts being overlooked in the workplace, but honestly that would be an interesting result too. Because if that was the case, why do we need so many introvert self-help books in the first place?)