The next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the power of quiet.
(Susan Cain, The Power of Quiet)
The purpose of the polarity of introversion-extraversion is to connect the inner and outer world. In this sense, we are all "ambiverts", i.e. able to both introvert and extravert as our life and the situation we are in demands.
In a sense, we have to, because otherwise we would be either disconnected from ourselves or from the world around us!
The introverted orientation prefers the solitude of reflection to the hustle and bustle of (inter)action.
For the introverted orientation self-reliance and thinking things through is preferred over the extraverted preference for processing thoughts by talking with others.
In the 20th century, education and business were structured in favor of the extravert. Large corporations with large offices, big schools, and classrooms all created a very stimulating environment for the extraverted orientation.
The digital age has shifted this advantage to the introvert.
The tools and the social media the digital age provide enable the introvert to create a complete universe online.
And the reality is that the introverted orientation is much better equipped for this than the extraverted orientation. An education can be completed or a business created from the solitude of a computer screen.
This shift is enormously valuable when adopted properly by society. It means the introverted and extraverted attitude can become truly “connected.” We can use the digital world to bring more balance to introversion-extraversion in society.
In my practice, I notice that people struggle with this polarity and many are ambiverts that can do both. If this is the case for you, one of the most important and helpful questions to ask yourself is:
Where do I do my best work? Where do I experience the most flow? In solitude or with others?
For example, I do my best work with groups. I have written two books and it was essential for me to put my thoughts and experiences on paper.
But writing is an introverted activity that is stressful and exhausting for me to do for long periods of time. But when facilitating a workshop with 8 or 10 people, I experience ease, flow, and energy for 8 hours or more.
Find out how you and others do their best work. Click below to take our online type quiz (will take 15 minutes or less of your time and the results will be sent straight to your inbox).