It was almost eight years back when I was a dorky school student preparing for my college entrance exams. This particular college in Pune not just required me to hand in heavyset assignments, but I had to be in their august presence for a panel interview, submission of documents and assignments and a group discussion. This was quite a challenge.
After the entire circus of submitting forms in one counter, assignments at the counter diametrically opposite on another planet, standing for hours, while sick, waiting for my interview slot, I finally found myself with a few students at our group discussion. While waiting to be ushered in, my mind kept churning those little pieces of advice my brother had given. He said – don’t hog the discussion, involve those who haven’t had a chance to speak, do not get aggressive and if possible, conclude the discussion. I followed it all to the letter. And it so happened, I was the only one to get through from my group, not that I may have been chosen based primarily based on this fact alone.
Now, after having spent five years working from morning to sometimes, the next morning, I’ve often asked myself – is being an extrovert really rewarded at work? I’ve always been a donkey at work, which means I prefer my work to do the talking. I can’t chat anyone up, and I’m sure if it boiled down to it, I’d flawlessly screw up that rare elevator pitch. So I ask… is being an extrovert in today’s corporate (or any other competitive industry) world handing an advantage to this attribute? We’ve all seen at one point or the other, certain people screaming out their daily duties, cribbing rather loudly about the client, prancing around office if they’ve been complimented, to say the least, and so on. We all know that one person who probably works little, but speaks for a thousand, who chances upon credit and grabs as if its his/her own, and who gets promoted while you quietly seethe inside.
But painfully, I’ve come to realise that all is not what it seems. Superiors are not always so oblivious to your work, your worth and do take note of your efforts. Yes, it helps a person’s case to be vocal at work or anywhere else, but what people must understand is that being an introvert is really not such a bad thing.
My bestie M was gifted a great book, Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. In it, she painstakingly etches out a clear case for introverts, how the world looks up to those who can stand their ground under the spotlight, and which favours the vocal over the more contemplative. She also adds how introverts tend to think before they speak and act, are less reckless and how, confusing shyness and introversion is a huge misconception. After M went on and on about this book till my ear fell off, I ended up being so impressed that I in turn sent it as a present to another friend. And yesterday, even another blogger, Solomon, whose blog I stumbled upon thanks to #AtoZChallenge, had a post on this. You can read his post here.
Till I find myself deep into this book, I shall take comfort in ‘labelling’ myself as an ambivert. I’m a bit of both, although, I never know which part kicks in where.