I remember sitting in a meeting once when I was a project manager. The one extrovert in the group completely dominated the conversation, going on and on about what the project should be about, where it should go, etc. In retrospect, I didn’t do a very good job of managing.
The interesting part was when the extrovert was confronted later with her behavior, she was completely taken aback. She was utterly unable to read the room and was quite surprised to find her approach hadn’t gone over very well with the rest of the team.
That would never happen to an introvert. Observation is so much a part of who we are it’s like breathing. Observation feeds that enormous hunger we have for input.
Whether it’s people watching at the mall, reviewing a manufacturing process for flaws or risks, or following a tennis match to judge each player’s strengths and weaknesses, observation is one of our greatest strengths.
Extroverts like to do, but introverts like to watch. It doesn’t mean we don’t take action; but we generally do it after careful observation, thought and deliberation. By observing, we can learn or understand or just enjoy.
Our power for observation means that introverts thrive in fields that require analysis, reflection, risk assessment, mediation. The list goes on and on.
One of the things I’ve realized while writing this series is that so much of what introverts excel at is nearly undetectable to others. While we’re sitting observing or listening, extroverts are just looking at us and shaking their heads, wondering why we’re just sitting there not doing anything. If they only knew.
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