In this extroverted world is there prejudice, bias and decimation against introverts in work and in modern western society in general?
Modern western society is making massive leaps forward in fighting prejudices and discrimination against certain groups of people. These groups include race, gender, religious beliefs and even age. However there is another group of people that is completely over looked. That group is the introverts, the quieter more reserved personality types.
There has been much scientific study done on the subject of introversion and different personality types. There’s absolutely a tonne of information on the subject available on the internet, from articles to videos. There is also a recent best seller book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain which I would highly recommend.
Despite all of the study and literature on the subject, the concept of different personality types, introversion and extroversion being the most recognized, it’s not really excepted in our pro extroverted biased societies. Basically society says extroversion is good and introversion is bad, and many negative generalizations and judgements are made about introverts.
We live in a world where extroversion and outgoing qualities are seen in a highly favorable light. People often place high value and assign positive traits to outgoing people, often the opposite is true for the more reserved introverted population.
It wasn’t always this way. There was once a time when character traits like being reserved, honorable or none attention seeking behaviors were looked favorably on. It was a time when a person’s character was rewarded in society.
Shift from character to personality
The shift began to happen after the birth of Hollywood and especially after the invention of the television in the early 20th century. Entertainment was taken to another level, a person could be elevated to new levels of status when they could be seen by millions of people on their television sets.
Ever since, western society has and is becoming more and more obsessed with personality and extroverted traits. This desire for extroverted personalities isn’t just restricted to social situations. It even influences what universities and employers look for in a suitable candidate.
Associations with outgoing personalities
An outgoing personality is often seen as friendly, happier and overall a nice person. However a need to be constantly social doesn’t really mean any of these are actually true. An outgoing person can simply be someone fulfilling their desire and need for attention and social interaction.
Someone who is talkative is often associated with being a good communicator and in some ways it is. The association may seem obvious however a desire to talk and be social doesn’t mean they’re communicating anything important. Some of the worst managers I have known have been very social people, always talking but not communicating anything useful.
The ability to speak is often associated with intelligence, however this is only an automated association.
Common Prejudices & Misconceptions about introverts
There is often a negative association between introversion and lacking competence in something. This is because being quiet is simply generally not looked upon favorably. For example people often explain an introverts quieter more reserved character as a person lacking confidence, lacking confidence is often associated with a lack of competence.
This association is made because most people don’t understand what an introvert actually is, they don’t see it as a preference for thinking over talking, or needing alone time to recharge their batteries. It’s mostly seen as a weakness, or character flaw, the reserved quiet person is seen as someone who needs to come out of their shell and be more confident, however this is only a quick, black and white judgement.
Introverts are often not seen as being capable of being good leaders. Popular belief is that a good leader needs to be outgoing to lead people. However being out going doesn’t equal a good leader. Being talkative doesn’t mean someone has good leadership skills, despite common associations.
Unfriendly & Stuck up
People often jump to conclusions and the quiet person is often a target and victim of those quick judgments. Some common quick judgments are, they’re unfriendly, stuck up or generally not nice people. However these are merely interpretations, many introverts are drained and made uncomfortable engaging in small talk and other basic social niceties. Plus introverts are more likely to suffer with shyness and social anxiety which can cause a person to put up walls and barriers to protect themselves.
Not listening to or respecting the ideas or suggestions of the softer spoken introvert. No matter how good an idea or suggestions maybe, many will overlook the introvert out of an automated prejudice. Imagine if the same thing happened due to someone’s race, this wouldn’t be tolerated in modern western societies and it’s illegal.
A group of loud, out spoken, outgoing Harvard students were given a task to choose 5 out of a possible 10 items that they would take with them on a survival trip. Mixed into the group was a quieter, softer spoken individual who had much experience in the great outdoors and survival. While the students energetically discussed which items they would select, the suggestions of the more experienced but softer spoken member was being completely over looked. Inevitably the wrong items were chosen. In a real world scenario these items would of made the difference between life and death.
There’s such favorable bias towards extroverts in western society. Yet many seem to forget or are oblivious to the fact that many, if not most of the world’s greatest minds, including inventors, scientists and other gifted professionals, were and are introverts.