The Extrovert Ideal
Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, Sir Isaac Newton, and Eleanor Roosevelt have been some of the most influential people in society. They are also all documented introverts. Sadly, these people are seen as the exception, as being among a few introverts who have become successful. According to societal stereotypes, a leader must be confident, not reserved; commanding, not quiet. In most cases, the world revolves around the extrovert, which in turn forces introverts to either conform or to cope in their own ways.
The main difference between introverts and extroverts is how they relax and recharge after a long day. There are many stereotypes surrounding introverts and extroverts; the main assumptions here are that all introverts are shy and all extroverts are outgoing. According to Saul McLeod, a psychology lecturer, the psychiatrist Carl Jung decided that extroverts have an “outward flowing of personal energy” while introverts have an “inward flowing of personal energy”. Jung also bluntly points out that “Our Western attitude is extroverted; value is put on being outgoing which we consider being well adjusted.” During the Industrial Revolution, Americans started to not only sell their product, but also themselves. An important part of business and eventually success, was to put on a confident, extroverted persona. Powerful leaders in business and other work fields had to be sure of themselves and forthright with their ideas - being reserved and reflective are considered weak attributes. Extroverts are seen as ideal in the workplace possibly because introverts can get overlooked, tend to be less driven by monetary gain and find self-promoting ‘distasteful’. Extroverts are also more likely to take on higher paying management roles resulting in the extroverted personality types earning more money, as shown in the “Average Household Income by Type” graph (Share):
The Extrovert Ideal is a phrase that describes the way that society rewards those with extroverted tendencies and leadership. In Susan Cain’s words from her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, “We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight...” The Extrovert Ideal is supported by many scenarios, one of which is the way that office spaces are organized. Many office spaces are open spaces, allowing collaboration and the sharing of ideas. For some work fields, such as education or small businesses, collaboration is extremely useful; instead of one mind there could be five people pouring over one problem. Many people think this way of working is essential, but it is wrong to assume that everyone holds it to that same standard. Introvert blogger, Matt Blodgett said, “By forcing your whole team into an open plan, you are effectively telling your introverts, act like an extrovert! All the time! If you don’t like this, there’s something wrong with you!” While extraversion is an attractive personality to most people, modern workplace culture made it into an oppressive lifestyle so that many introverts feel they need to conform. Society is built in favor of the extroverted. Introverts should not be forced to change their lifestyle based off of their office space and coworkers and should not be shunned because they work a different way.
Introverts may not be able to change the way that they recharge, but they can adapt and find ways to cope with the Extrovert Ideal. Laura Vanderkam has developed strategies to be confident while giving speeches to large groups of people. As an introvert, Vanderkam has had to cope with the expectation of being instantly skilled with public speaking. Vanderkam has not become an extrovert - she still struggles with her speeches and needs time to herself to recharge - but she has found ways to make the lecturing process easier for her through strategies to make public speaking more comfortable for her. For example, Vanderkam says that she has “the organizers [of where I am lecturing] put me in touch with a few audience members beforehand... When I say hello before the talk, they become friendly faces, nodding and smiling in seats near the front [of the audience].” By practicing and tweaking her public speaking technique, Vanderkam has found ways to make her more comfortable with something that an extrovert could attempt without hours of preparation. A stereotype is that all introverts, being shy, are terrible at public speaking. Vanderkam proves this stereotype wrong and defends introverts’ personalities, but since the world expects the ideal person to be an extrovert, introverts must find ways to cope.
Although the Extrovert Ideal may only seem important to introverts, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about how the world treats those who function differently. Society should accept introverts and extroverts for who they are. As attractive of a trait that extroversion is, it should not be an oppressive standard. If no space is made for introverts, then society will lose people who crave solitude that gives them time to formulate ideas without distraction, people who rely on their inner compasses, not external affirmation, and realistic listeners would can shape the world with the passion and strength.
Jung, Carl. "Jung's Theory of Temperaments." Philosophy Lander. Philosophy Lander, Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/jung.html>.
Blodgett, Matt. "The Open Plan Office and the Extrovert Ideal." Blodgett, Matt. Matt Blodgett, 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://www.mattblodgett.com/2015/02/the-open-plan-office-and-extrovert-ideal.html>.
Vanderkam, Laura. "The Introvert on the Podium." The New York Times. The New York Times. Web. 15 Oct. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/business/the-introvert-on-the-podium.html?_r=1>.
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2012, 2013. Print.
Share, Jacob. "Do You Have This Moneymaking Personality Trait?" JobMob. JobMob, n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. <https://jobmob.co.il/blog/personality-trait-making-money/>.
Lebowitz, Shana. "Why Extroverts Earn More Money than Introverts." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 12 May 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. <http://www.businessinsider.com/susan-cain-on-why-extroverts-earn-more-2015-5>.
Bernstein, Elizabeth. "Why Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs." The Wall Street Journal. WSJ, 23 Aug. 2015. Web. 01 Nov. 2016. <http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-introverts-make-great-entrepreneurs-1440381699>.