The Value of Introverts | Jasmine Elasaad
American society has long conditioned us to believe that possessing extroverted traits is the key to success, thus encouraging everyone to fit its preconceived mold. If you’ve ever been told in class that “you’re not participating enough” or had your heart nearly stop upon hearing that a group project was to be assigned, you know what I’m talking about. Introverts have been encouraged by many to adopt more extroverted behaviors in order to be successful in some way or another, and there has long been a movement to help foster these behaviors in schools because of this perceived demand for them. Unsurprisingly, many introverts have been struck hard by this notion, and have felt an intense pressure to change their personalities entirely to fall in line with societal expectations. To add to the fuel, one analysis of data from the BBC Big Personality Test survey found that highly extroverted people were 25% more likely than their introverted counterparts to land a high-paying job due to their charismatic nature. So this begs the question: do introverts need to adopt more extroverted behaviors in order to be successful in this day and age, or are they capable of achieving an equal or higher level of success by honing their own undervalued capabilities?
Contrary to the beliefs held by proponents of extroversion, both introverts and extroverts have their own strengths and are equally capable of assuming a leadership role and attaining success in life. Let’s begin with the extroverts. Extroversion can definitely play a role in social mobility; loved for their confidence and friendliness, extroverts often have no problem nailing their job interviews. They tend to be viewed by others as great natural leaders, as they have no qualms with taking charge, thrive in group settings, are great orators, and are very adept at on-the-spot thinking.
Although extroverts have many qualities that enable them to be great leaders, we often overlook the set of equally important gifts possessed by introverts. Just because extroverts tend to often be perceived as better leaders doesn’t necessarily mean that they are, or that they are more capable than introverts. In fact, one study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research observed 4,591 CEOs, and discovered that those who identified as introverts actually outperformed their extroverted counterparts in terms of average return on assets by around 2%. Introverts tend to have incredible listening skills and creativity, allowing them to collaborate much more effectively with their employees since they are more willing to listen to their suggestions, leading to more powerful or highly developed ideas.
Many of our top innovators, who just so happen to be introverts, have also thrived working by themselves. Take Mark Zuckerberg, for example. He essentially built Facebook single-handedly (with the aid of a few friends), and has become one of the richest people on the planet. And let’s not forget the likes of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and even Albert Einstein. Clearly, large-scale social interaction and cooperation with peers is not at all a requisite in becoming successful.
The culture of the United States is designed more for extroverts; we need to get rid of the stigma surrounding introverts and instead allow them to embrace their natural talents. Introverts and extroverts have their respective advantages in the workplace, so there isn’t one that is better than the other. So don't worry introverts, you don’t need to fake extroversion or change yourself in any way to garner success.