Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So, you’re an introvert? Why? Just stop it!


This book steams me.

I started reading this book, The Introverted Leader: Building on your quiet strength, some months ago. I haven’t finished it yet and probably won’t.

Why?

Because it’s not really about how to be a leader as an introvert. Instead, it’s just another piece of propaganda, as the author puts it, to help you pass as an extrovert.

What? Are you kidding me?

Resistance is futile

The whole tone and overall implication of the book is that being an introvert is not a good thing. Instead of embracing who you are as an introvert, you need to pretend to be something you’re not – an extrovert.

Refuse to do so? You’ll never succeed in a career position.

This reminds me of the pre-integration years when blacks were told to look and act white to be accepted. That didn’t go over so well.

Yes, introvert discrimination is real. Introvertphobia exists. We are free to be who we are – as long as we behave like extroverts.

Introvert like me

My suspicions about this book were raised in the preface when the author describes herself as “a strong extrovert.” Uh oh.

She then attempts to claim credibility for authoring a book for introverts by describing how she’s been a business consultant for many years, worked with many corporate leaders, and is married to an introvert. So what?

I hope she treats her husband with more respect than she does the introverted readers who are the intended audience for this book.

This book is proof that extroverts don’t get introverts. The author’s approach is to offer tips to “fix” introverts.

Just be more, you know, something else!

There are dozens of books on how to succeed in a corporate setting. They all touch on topics such as how to assert yourself in meetings, how to find favor with your boss and co-workers, how to run projects, and so forth.

This book is no different.

The author has attempted to slant it toward introverts by jamming random quotes and toss-off tips aimed at introverts in between the generic business advice.

The book is really about stifling your true personality as an introvert  and covering who you are with the “acceptable” persona of an extrovert.

It reinforces the negative stereotypes of introverts while quietly affirming the greater perceived value of extroverts.

There is no guidance offered to help introverts navigate an extrovert environment, nor any insight offered to extroverts for accepting introverts as they are.

What’s missing are tips for managers and others on how to overcome any anti-introvert bias.

Introverts deserve respect


Discriminating against someone based on religion, ethnicity, gender, race – and personality style – is wrong.

The same egalitarian attitude we hold regarding age and other discriminatory behaviors should be adopted when it comes to dealing with introverts. Or extroverts.

We don’t need a world full of only rah-rah, in-your-face extroverts. We need a world that makes respectful room for the quiet, contemplative strength of introverts.

Both personality types are to be valued and respected equally.

The author admits that she has “not found specific evidence that says extroverts make better leaders than introverts do.”

Yet the entire book puts the onus on the introvert to conform and bend to extrovert behavior.

This is simply wrong-headed.

Extroverts need to work just as hard to understand and accommodate their introvert colleagues.

While her book doesn’t support her statement, even the author admits that introversion “should not be considered a problem.”

That’s true. It isn’t. A discriminatory attitude toward introversion is.

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What do you think about the "extrovert privilege" that exists in society and the discrimination against introverts?

A couple of excellent books about introverts:

4 comments:

  1. So, did you like the book? You need to come out of your shell and tell us what you really think. ;-)

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    1. Big grin! A much better book is "Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture." Even though aimed at "church" peeps, it's loaded with good stuff that's actually helpful for introverts, and is a good book to give to extroverts as well. Thanks for the comment, Mike!

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  2. There is a strong undercurrent of discrimination and lack of understanding of introverts in American society.

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    1. You are absolutely correct! Even some who advocate for introverts do so with mitigation, encouraging introverts to be more "assertive" rather than encouraging others to be more accepting of introverts and allowing introverts to be true to who they are. Telling an introvert to be more like extroverts is just as bad as telling a woman to be more like a man, or a black person to act more white, to be successful and accepted. The good news is that there is positive change afoot and introverts are being more and more valued as we should.

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