What do Introverts Need?


Susan Cain, author of Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World ThatCan’t Stop Talking.

I listened to this article a few months ago. It piqued my interest being an introvert, I could identify with many of the issues discussed. Using this article as a base, I decided to add my experience and input to the discussion. Here goes…

What Do Introverts Need?

Full confessions, I am an introvert and have probably been one for most of my physical existence. Not always sure why but I operate the majority of my life doing solitary activities – it’s just something I gravitate towards. I’m able to deal with people for one or two hours at a time before I need my alone time to recharge my batteries and perform some heavy-duty thinking. If I don’t have that opportunity, it will eventually affect my mood and performance.

When I meet an extrovert, I’m quickly aware of how we scale on the personality continuum. In my mind, most introverts are more inclined to listen and understand and extroverts love to talk and engage in social conversation. There’s no right or wrong personality type, they are just different when dealing in social situations and interactions with people.

Are Introverted Individuals just Shy and Try to Avoid People?

Extroverts operate better when the noise is higher and introverts may just be the opposite when it comes to noise. That’s because introverts and extroverts really operate ideally in different levels of stimulation.

Many people assume that introversion is all about being shy or in some way, being antisocial. From my experience as an introvert and studying others who generally prefer to spend blocks of time alone, shyness is not necessarily the issue. Because introverts deal with stimulation differently,  their approach to social situations is quite different. It’s not being shy or anti-social but the stimulation is at the nervous system level so often an introvert  in finding their comfort zone doesn’t have that choice in dealing with social interactions.

How are Introverts Energized vis-à-vis Extroverts?

Introverts feel most energized and productive in low pace and quieter environments. Extroverts on the other hand crave social situations to feel their best. Often, extroverts will be energized being around people and often transfer some of the energy from more introverted individuals. Each group would certainly approach social situations differently. Some accuse introverts as not wanting to socialize which isn’t exactly the case. Their preference is to choose to be among people in quieter manners. It’s nothing personal, it’s just where and how they typically function best.

 What Effect will the Melissa Mayer’s Decision to Mandate Employees Work in the Office have on Introvert’s Job Performance?

Weeks ago, Melissa Mayer of Yahoo has implemented a corporate policy where it is no longer permissible for their employees to work from home. This is quite controversial and there are many people on each side of the debate who feel strongly about their position. I believe one of the reasons she implemented this policy is to have more opportunities to collaborate and engage in groupthink. When reading her reasoning for this new policy, I sense she feels much of this collaboration is currently missing at Yahoo.  

Regardless, as an introvert, my first concern with such a policy is the work environment organized in such a way that someone who functions well emotionally by spending much time along have the necessary “get away” space to recharge their batteries? If the facility is designed to allow “get away space” for people who need to recharge their batteries or clear their mind, then that might just work. That “get away space” would also assist introverts when they are problem solving or the need to concentrate for blocks of time. If the facility doesn’t have those “get away space” options or hoteling space, then how can those who like to spend the majority of their time alone, find the opportunity to do so?

It’s important for Designers of Business Space and Offices to Factor all Personality Types?

Years ago, I worked at Allstate Insurance, which had wireless Internet throughout their main campus. With a laptop and phone, one could travel anywhere on campus and work. The empowerment behind this design was great as introverts who found their workspace too noisy or distracting could pick up their things and disappear and still get their work done. It didn’t necessarily address the issue of a noisy workspace but that’s an entirely different subject.

Do I think Introverts have more Insight on how to Design Workspace?

For introverts to be creative, they need just the right work environment and have that emotional peace to be productive and creative. The ball may lie in their court to determine how best to create that type of space.

Generally speaking, introverts are good listeners and they may have the ability to work with both introverts and extroverts. In other words, they can figure out various personality types to help them design workspace.

If a workspace is designed by an extrovert whose focus may not be on designing workspace for both introverts and extroverts, how will this personality type know what someone who has a different work style needs? How will you know this? How will you know what workspace will maximize the needs of both introverts and extroverts?

One Comment
  1. You’re so cool! I don’t believe I have read something like that before.
    So good to discover another person with some unique thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up.
    This website is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

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