Agony of Introverts

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by SPIEZ, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. SPIEZ

    SPIEZ Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2011
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    Bhangra beats blare loudly in the background and in a plush south Delhi gym full of mirrors and sweaty, preening bodies, Goldie — Gautam at home — moves around the floor quietly, helping someone with a dumbbell curl and another with the bench press. He’s usually happy doing that and those who have worked with him on their wide bellies or narrow chests often say they ended up better off after training with him.

    Last week, though, Goldie came back from work upset. The owner of the fitness centre had terminated his services and politely asked him not to come next month onwards. “You don’t engage our clients in conversation. You don’t talk enough” was the explanation given to the startled trainer. “But,” protested Goldie, “I really work hard on each one of them. Remember Shireen? She’s lost 20 kg and never misses out on a session. Moreover, isn’t my job to give them good physiques they can be proud of?’’

    Telling Goldie to go for not chatting up his unfit apprentices is like asking a big-scoring striker in a football team to look for a new club because he doesn’t go beer-drinking with the boys in the neighbourhood bar after the game is over.

    In a world where people are constantly talking — mostly about themselves and their achievements — on the phone, via Twitter, through Facebook, in meetings that can end in 30 minutes but go on for two hours, there is a new bunch increasingly being added to the discrimination list. Being an introvert has suddenly become the latest disqualification. Often it is subtle — of course, it isn’t as bad as being a black kid in a mostly-white school, or carrying a Muslim name at the immigration counter in a US airport — but sometimes it is not. It is there, in all its loudness, in our boardrooms, dressing rooms, newsrooms.

    Not that it is an insignificant group. Some estimates have it that one-third of us, about 30%, fall in the category of introverts. In a recent TIME magazine story, Bryan Walsh says that introverted does not have to mean shy, though there is an overlap. “Shyness,” he says, “is a form of anxiety characterized by inhibited behaviour. It also implies a fear of social judgment that can be crippling…Introverts shun social situations because, Greta Garbo-style, they simply want to be alone.”

    Quoting Christopher Lane, the author of ‘Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness’, the article says, “Our culture expects people to be outgoing and sociable. It's the unstated norm, and against that norm introverts stand out as seemingly problematic.” The quieter ones, he says, often languish at the back of the classroom even as the bolder lot gets all the attention from the teacher.

    It’s not all that bad, though. Walsh, an introvert and TIME’s Tokyo bureau chief, lists out some of the benefits of being one. Introverts, he says, are more cautious and deliberate than extroverts. That means they tend to think things through more thoroughly, often making smarter decisions. “Introverts are better at listening and that in turn can make them better business leaders, especially if their employees feel empowered to act on their own initiative. And simply by virtue of their ability to sit still and focus, introverts find it easier to spend long periods in solitary work, which turns out to be the best way to come up with a fresh idea or master a skill.”

    That said, do introverts find the going tougher in a loud country like India? Is it worse when a culture tolerates and even encourages extreme levels of boisterousness reflected in some of our ads with punchlines that propagate further the necessity of being noisy? One jingle for a chocolate bar, for instance, says, “Shor na machaya toh maza nahi aya.” For non-Hindi speakers, this is: It’s no fun if you aren’t creating a ruckus.

    Not surprisingly, introverts among us stand out more here than in quieter cultures like Japan, where people don't talk in buses and trains because it is considered rude and impolite to intrude upon someone’s right to silence. The first thing you notice about Seoul streets is that hardly anybody honks. It is no different in Beijing. Loud is embarrassing for them. Now compare the scene in India. Travel in a Mumbai local and you just have to keep your ears open to be privy to a fellow traveller's most private humiliations or shameful family secret. We are clearly the globe’s top halla bol nation.

    We are also a nation of gamblers. And here’s something to chew on. Studies show that introverts tend to be better betters because of a keener sense of risk. Warren Buffett, one of our greatest investors, is believed to be a non-extrovert happiest at home.

    So what’s the take-away? If you want to make money, invest in introverts.
  3. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

    Feb 23, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Bloh inspired by the slew of new pop-sci books on introverts

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