It was a little bit of a revelation and a bit of relief when I discovered I was an introvert. A shy child who was bullied, when I went to university I threw off those shackles, ran public lecture courses, work as a lecturer and do work as a public speaker and lay preacher. But I wondered at the fact that being in the spotlight was tiring.
I'd done a Myers-Briggs personality test and come out F (feeling) and E (extroverted). Lots of people told me I was a T (thinker). Doing an online version soon revealed to me how strong TJ I was, a thinker and a planner. But I still thought I was an extrovert.
Being introverted makes a lot of sense. Less shy than as a kid I get speak in public when I have a role, but need time on my own soon after and struggle with praise (and criticism). My happiest work days are on my own thinking even though I like lecturing and helping others learn and discover new things. Open plan is a big distraction.
Susan Cain's book is starting to raise issues in my mind about open plan offices, group work, the value of introverts in teams like a weather forecast office, etc. In a world that worships the cult of extroversion, it seems it doesn't do all that it promises and that introverts can get left behind. A few observations from Cain's book Quiet (p84ff).
- Open plan offices make people sick, unmotivated, raise their blood pressure and unproductive. People need time to think on their own
- Multitasking is a myth. It's constant task swapping and reduced efficiency
- Group brainstorming raises fewer innovative ideas that brainstorming on your own. Collaboration via Wikis and coming together AFTER doing initial work on your own will produce more ideas
- Group brainstorming affects how we think, not simply by peer pressure but by suppressing activity in the pre-frontal cortex. Groupthink is a danger