Brave and Silent
Few weeks ago, my son recently wrote a journal entry that has touched my heart and made me realize how this world, especially North American school system tends to encourage Extroverts.
Krrish(my tween son) wrote about an experience he had at the indoor recess as they played “Floor is Lava”. The objective of the game is not to touch the ground as its lava or hot. However, the schools don’t allow for the furniture in the hallway, they treat Tile’s lines as the lava. As they travel from the Start line to the Finish line, the objective is not to touch the Tiles lines and if kids do then everyone screams and act silly etc. It’s a way for the kids to burn off their energy even though they’re not outside in the playground running around. A harmless game you think. Not to some of the introverts in school who worked very hard to stay off the lines so they can get few mins of silence. Krrish too tried his best not to touch the tiles lines just so he can get some silence. However, the kids thought he was boring and playing too safe. Although, Krrish really considered himself to be “Brave and Silent” for the choices he makes everyday to enjoy some quite time. Of course, this raises a question of how does this relate to Introverts and Extroverts.
First let me start by defining Extroverts and Introverts. Then we will go into more details of the differences and what we can do to help and interact with each personality types.
Extroverts are sociable and outgoing. They like to interact with anyone as they get the chance. They enjoy being in the spotlight and need to be surrounded by people. They measure their success by social connections, facebook friends and twitter followers. Introverts prefer to spend time quietly by themselves and like to think long and hard. Introverts have smaller social group yet they have deep and meaningful friendships. Let me give you couple of examples, Extroverts will talk about the weather while introverts will talk about climate change. Extroverts may loose money in the stock market but will keep investing. Introverts will loose money and they’ll reflect and go back and study data and then reinvest. Introverts will most likely to gain profit even in the downturn.
Why the difference? The difference is cerebral in brain’s amygdala region. Introverts’ brains show a stronger response to external stimuli like a noise. Whereas, Extroverts have a low response and continuously seek out more stimulating environments and end up being lively extroverts. Many introverts will act like Extroverts for the short time and recharge them selves in solitude or take a lot of bathroom breaks.
In the book Quiet, Susan Cain refers to Extroverts as ‘dandelions’ because they thrive anywhere and introverts as ‘orchids’ because they need supportive environment or they close up.
Lucky me, I have kids with different personalities. My daughter is an extrovert and she constantly needs activities and things to do. I encourage her do those things and provide time and resources for them. For My son, I look out for quieter activities such as swimming, cooking lessons and extra math classes. My daughter loves having group of friends, while I organize 1:1 playdates for my son. Introverts need a lot of positive enforcement so there are times I have to tell my daughter to stop talking and let her brother talk too.
Initially, I was worried as the schools, workplaces are made for Extroverts and I didn’t want to categorize my son to be an introvert. Felt like I would be limiting his choices. However, I see Schools and workplaces embracing introverts and making smaller changes to adjust both personalities types. My son’s school has ‘self-regulation’ where the kids can walk out to the hallway and work there as it may be quieter or some teachers have silent or noise-cancelling headphones. Workplaces allow introverts to work from home so they can be productive and have smaller group activities where they thrive and limit the time so introverts are not exhausted.
May be you or have kids or co-workers that are introverts. Please don’t categorize them as such but treat them like Orchids so they can thrive too. They just need more personalized attention but they will give beautiful results. Some of the richest people in the world are introverts like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zukerberg. And it is Introverts have produced projects like Schindler’s list and the Theory of relativity.