By Anika Jessen
Silence: I love blank paper. Silence. Room for a new world. An imagined world to disappear in. Time to dive in and out of this world without anyone recognizing me. Bringing something new with me. I love lasting time periods without interruption.
Inspiration: I also love fast-paced talks. Laughing aloud. Eyes wide open. Being on the very same page with others. Getting inspired by their way. This is flow, too. Another world to disappear in.
Introversion and Extroversion
These two situations describe the introverted and extroverted aspects of a single personality. Introverted persons get their energy mostly from within, in silent surroundings. They prefer to be with a few number of people and need breaks from crowds.
Extroverted people, by comparison, recharge their batteries mainly when interacting with others. They enjoy company and don´t like to be on their own so much.
As the two selves — silence and inspiration — show, no one is either completely introverted or completely extroverted. Everyone is both, with varying emphases. This means that while individuals can have an overall tendency to be more introverted or more extroverted, they’re also able to adapt to different settings. After evaluating a situation, we can settle into our comfort zones or actively step out of them.
Introverts and extroverts possess different ways of thinking and working. Having both in one team is valuable for process and outcomes. The idea of sociable people who enjoy to talk and share often fits better with the conventional image of successful people. That’s why extroverts are often perceived as more talented than introverts. Society perceives a great team player as someone who’s clearly extroverted. Likewise, the personality of a leader.
This prejudice does not do justice to introverted people. Since Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was published, there have been many studies that claim to show that introverted people are better leaders. As silence is often a great source of creativity and concentration, introverts often come up with innovative ideas when working in silence. Witness the work of famous introverts like Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, or J.K. Rowling.
The Best of Both Worlds
To make the most out of our differences, we need to value both introversion and extroversion equally — as tendencies with different needs but neither more beneficial or better than the other. This is especially true in a creative setting where individuals need to adapt to a fast-changing environment that requires both introversion and extroversion depending on the particular task or situation. Respecting the differences between introverts and extroverts while working on a multidisciplinary team will not only enable us to stretch our abilities as individuals but also as an entity.
Anika Jessen is a working student in business development at MetaDesign Berlin.