COLUMN: The Ely Grumpster looks at the extrovert/introvert divide
PUBLISHED: 07:24 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:31 03 October 2018
• This week’s missive looks at the extrovert/introvert divide – what are the character differences and who might fit into each category.
I end with an example of damaging pseudo-psychology, which enriches and misleads in equal measure.
• Being forced into an unpleasant situation (presenting to a large audience) has forcefully reminded me of the futility of the “square peg, round hole” mentality and why you should just be yourself.
• There is no categorical divide between an extrovert and an introvert. Personality is a spectrum. Some people use learned behaviour to suppress natural attributes.
Others possess a combination of seemingly contradictory characteristics. So, I have focused on the extreme end of the divide, with three examples of discernable contrast.
• Social gatherings: extroverts will hold court at the centre of a large group, or work the room, constantly looking over their companion’s shoulder for the next person they can bore to death.
Introverts prefer small groups or one to ones and shy from talking about themselves - listening to and expressing genuine interest in the other person.
• Work situations: if something goes well or badly, the extrovert will respectively claim success and blame others.
The introvert will herald the benefits of collective team effort and if things go wrong, look at their own failings rather than the short-comings of companions.
• Decision making. Extroverts will make rapid calls on the basis of gut feel. Introverts will weigh up the evidence and come to an informed decision.
Former is essential in a combat zone. Not so good if you have your finger on the nuclear button, or are managing a multi-billion pension fund.
Trump, Branson and Boris are natural extroverts. Gordon Brown and Bill Gates are introverts. Bill Clinton is an extrovert with learned introvert behaviours. Theresa May the opposite.
• In Susan Cain’s brilliant book “Quiet”, she describes a conference run by a hyperactive Duracell bunny called Tony Robbins, who for $895, will tell you how to “unleash the power within” and transform yourself into a confident, popular, dynamic success.
It is a myth. An introvert can no easier convert to an extrovert than a domestic cat can turn into a lion. Save your money, recognise what you are and celebrate the fact. With the 2008 crash still fresh in our minds, I have no doubt that one day, the introverts will inherit the earth.