Tag Archives: introversion

Sorry Hugh Mackay, you’re wrong if you think the digital world is disconnecting people #AMSRS 

Everything was going great during Hugh Riminton’s fireside chat with Hugh Mackay until the very end. Until the point when Hugh Mackay suggested that the digital world was making it harder for people to actually see and connect with each other.

Now, as a very generalized rule, I generally agree. But it’s a point of view that will resonate much more with extraverts who make up arguably half of the population. And extraverts are the half of the population who, by definition, regularly see and personally interact with lots of other people. Putting a digital device into their hands may very well change the number of in-person interactions taking place. 

But for people on the introverted side of the curve, the silent half, the quiet half, the half that doesn’t blather on for hours because they need to hear their own voice, the half that stays behind closed doors much of the day, the half that loves libraries and forests and other places of peaceful solitude, the digital world does not close doors. Rather, it opens doors.

For some people, the digital world is the only door to the outside. For some, the outer world is too loud, too complicated, too busy, too distracting. For others, it is too stressful, too fearful, or too anxiety provoking. The digital world offers them a way to experience the wider world with less stress and distractions. It allows them to practice interacting with people in a slow and calculated way. 

Pish posh, you say. Get over it, you say. Well, then perhaps you ought to completely change your personality, or maybe just stop being scared of heights or flying or bats. Maybe now is the time to register for that class in empathy. The world is not built like you. Stop expecting everyone to be the same as you.

As for the rest of us, we’ll continue to take full advantage of the digital world. It’s a wondrous thing.

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Social media is killing social

If you subscribe to the Myers Briggs theory of personality, introversion/extroversion is a personality trait that looks like a normal curve. Half of people are introverts and half of people are extroverts. Indeed, this trait is a continuum such that people aren’t simply one or the other. Everyone has some degree of extroversion and introversion, and the ratio differs from person to person. But let’s press on.

White Noise: A Cautionary Musical

How is social media killing social? Well, people are spending more and more time pulling those little electronic devices out of the purses and pockets and typing on them. Instead of meeting up with their friends, going to a coffee shop, and chatting in person, people are simply pulling out their phone and texting, or tweeting, or facebooking those conversations. And instead of lengthy, well-laid out conversations, they’re sending out quick sounds bites and pithy remarks all with the intent of getting a chuckle out of someone else sitting on their couch waiting for a pithy remark to respond to.

Is this reality? Maybe. If you’re an extrovert. But if you’re an introvert, it could very likely be a completely incorrect picture. You see, introverts don’t require the constant noise of five people talking over each other to entertain themselves. Introverts put up with all that noise because half of the world is extroverted and they don’t know how to be quiet for five minutes.  Introverts have no need to constantly flap their lips and make noise and listen to themselves talk. When possible, introverts will simply avoid all that nonsense. It’s easier, it’s quieter, and it doesn’t create unnecessary white noise.

If you think about it, social media creates a quiet place where people can talk to each other without interrupting five other people who are also trying to fill their air with their noise. Social media creates a space where introverts want talk. A place for people who would have never talked in a crowd before can now share their opinions in a calm and quiet place. Social media creates a place for people who might have never shared their opinion before to share their thoughts with many different people. Social media is a tool that just so happens to increase the sociability of introverts. A place for them to meet people they would have never met otherwise. A place to make friends with people they would have never met otherwise.

Is social media killing social? Maybe if you’re an extrovert. But absolutely not if you’re an introvert. And the world could stand to listen to the other 50% of people for a change.

How to get introverts to talk in meetings

English: The CEJISS Administrative Board meetingIf you’ve ever held a meeting and gotten frustrated because only the extroverts are talking, I bet you’ve asked yourself this question. What can you possibly do to get the introverts to talk more?

But let’s think about that problem from a different angle. What can we possibly do to get the extroverts to talk less? Or, even more to point, why do we need to have a meeting to discuss this issue as a group?

Where extroverts thrive on meetings for the iterative back and forth, the energetic discussions, the heated arguments, and the hypothesizing and postulating, introverts sit back and wonder why no one is simply getting down to business. Why waste hours of time with talk when all you need to do is write out the issues in an email? Why hypothesize about endless possibilities when all you need to do is have each person write out a list of pro and cons which can then be summarized and circulated by one person?

Computer feestjeThe problem with meetings is that they are planned by extroverts for extroverts. Introverts have tons of ideas. They just don’t feel the need to share a multitude of extraneous thoughts at the same time. When introverts need input on an idea, they recognize that a meeting is not always necessary. Perhaps all that is required is for each person to write out their input and email it to them.

So how do you respond to those folks who are unable to do so, the ones who insist that their thoughts will be better understood if they are discussed rather than written out? Well, how about a comparable response such as their thoughts will be better understood if they are written out rather than discussed. What a bold idea.

There is no right way to share ideas. There are, however, different ways to share ideas. Perhaps it’s time not to ask how to get introverts to pretend to be extroverts but rather to ask extroverts to pretend to be introverts. Give it a try.

Shy Friendly Shopping

Calling all extraverted marketers, shop keepers, and restauranteers.

The world consists of people who are different than you. Have you heard of the personality characteristic called shyness? It seems that many extraverts can’t even conceive of what it must be like to be shy. I suspect most people don’t even think about it, but stores and restaurants are usually designed for extraverted people. So here is some free advice.

Shy and Hide

1) Do not cover your windows full of posters and curtains and crap. If I can’t see what I’m getting into, I ain’t going in.
2) Do not stand in the doorway. I won’t go in even if you step aside. It’s just too late.
3) If you must greet people at the door, do it quickly and walk away. Otherwise, I’ll walk away.
4) Do not engage me in conversation or light chit chat. I don’t want to do it, nor am I able to do it. See result of #1.
5) Do not stalk me with eager attentiveness. In fact, go to the opposite side of the store.
6) Stalk me from very, very afar, glancing awkwardly out of the corner of your eye until you see me look up and search you out.
7) Price everything. If I have to talk to someone, you’ve just lost a sale.
8 ) Do not ask any extra questions when I go to pay. Don’t ask for my zip code. Don’t ask if I want to sign up for your club. Don’t ask how my day was. Don’t ask for my phone number. (Unless you’re cute. Are you cute?)
9) Do not sell your services by telephone. Do you seriously think i answer it?

And that, my friends, is the short list. I’m sure other folks have some suggestions. I’d love to read your rules so share them here.

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