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Anne N

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Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Has your introversion/ extroversion shaped your choice of career?

I would like to know if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert.

Did your introversion or extroversion affect your choice of career?

How has your introversion or extroversion led to obstacles/ helped you in your career of choice?

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    Jan 15 2013: I do not make sense. Seriously! I am an extroverted introvert. My job entails not only being around people all day, and interacting and communicating with people constantly, I can confidently stand in front of 300 people and give a lecture on a complicated topic. So, people I work with and know well will describe me as extroverted and confident. I can also be incredibly shy, and love being alone. I actually prefer my own company most of the time and sometimes hate dealing with people. I struggle with meeting new people and communicating sometimes. I am terrible at maintaining friendships because I find people too demanding of me half the time. So, I would not say my introversion has been an obstacle to a very extroverted career.
    • Anne N

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      Jan 15 2013: It's wonderful that you are able to have a career which requires extraversion although you are an introvert. I am just curious-- why do you think you are able to give lectures to hundreds confidently but struggle with meeting new people? Is it due to the small talk involved when meeting new people one on one? As an introvert myself, I believe that the ability to communicate with others on a large scale and on a smaller scale at work is extremely important. As such, I was wondering how you are able to do it with such ease.
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        Jan 15 2013: When I am training or presenting a lecture, it is on topics that I know extensively. I have confidence in my knowledge and my ability to answer any questions on what I am talking about. This has come with extensive training and experience myself, but when I first presented a training session, I was so nervous and stressed that I put my neck out! (I carry tension in my neck and shoulders). So my ability to stand up in front of many people has come with time.

        In personal interactions, I have less confidence about myself. I am Obese, so am often judged by people who have never talked to me. I think it depends on the interaction. If when I meet people I have to make small talk, I am extremely uncomfortable, but then I love talking and debating ideas, but you rarely meet people who jump right in with what do you think about.... If that were the case I would have no problem interacting in social settings. I wish I could meet Tedders in person because people on this site love to debate and think and critically analyse ideas. I never seem to meet these kinds of people in person!

        Another aspect of my introversion is that I have learned to be alone. I was severely ill for many years (my illness caused a lot of my weight gain because I was almost bedridden, and unable to prepare healthy meals). I would have considered myself an extrovert before then, but for around 4 years I was in so much pain that I stopped going out, stopped having social outings because I was too sick and people eventually stopped calling. I learned to live a very isolated and insular life, and when I got well again (I am in remission so have periods of being unwell and not having any energy so am inclined to read a lot and do very little as am not physically able to do so), I found that my confidence with others had disappeared. I seemed to lose a lot of the social skills I used to have and because I am so used to my own company, I am less tolerant of some behaviours in people.
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          Jan 15 2013: This to me both Lee-Anna and Anne is the TED community at it's best. I was going to share earlier and felt I would have been off topic. Came back and witnessed what makes this community great. Not sure where you are geographically Lee-Anna I can say that the two of you have an instant connection in large part to the commonalities that I'm learning all TED-sters, TEDxers, etc. embody.

          Lee-Anna thank you for being so honest and open you organically give each of us permission to follow your example. Anne if you are reading this thank you for posing such a thought provoking question. Your phraseology is disarming thus inviting meaningful dialogue.

          Ladies, both of you moved me and I thank you for it!

          Jacqui:~)
        • Anne N

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          Jan 15 2013: Thank you very much for sharing Lee-Anna! I agree with Jacqui about the honesty and openness of your sharing, and have learnt from what you have shared.

          As an introvert, I too am able to express myself when it comes to topics I know extensively. However, the act of presenting is something that I still find nerve-wracking at times. Practising does help though!

          Similarly, I am also one for debate and prefer thinking about topics as compared to making small talk. However, I find that a balance is always good because small talk can lead to debate and can be refreshing after a deeper conversation has taken place.

          Jacqui, thank you for for expressing your thanks! I am happy that my question and phraseology has been thought provoking and created meaningful dialogue-- those are ultimately the aims of any TED conversation I create :)
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      Jan 15 2013: I don't see lecturing to 300 people on a topic at which you are expert as being at all inconsistent with introversion. On the other hand, I see small talk with three hundred individual strangers at an event as being extremely challenging for an introvert.
      • Anne N

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        Jan 17 2013: In my opinion, it can be challenging for an introvert because more introverted people tend to prefer small groups and need alone time to recharge. Speaking to a large audience is challenging, in that sense. However, introverts (or people who are more introverted) are almost always extroverted to some extent. Thus, lecturing to hundreds is not inconsistent with introversion if keeping in mind that extroversion and introversion exist in all of us.

        It is akin to saying that if someone is more extroverted, he or she would never go out with a small group because they would not enjoy it.
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          Jan 17 2013: Two of my three children are introverts and none has stage fright or discomfort of this kind. Delivering material on a subject you know can be very different from social engagement with lots of people.

          I have known many introverted university lecturers. And I have known extroverts who get nervous about presentations even to small groups.

          I think presentations may feel different from personal social interactions.

          Here are some people psychological testing says are introverts: Gandhi, Al Gore, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steven Spielberg.
      • Anne N

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        Jan 17 2013: Interesting comments, Fritzie! I feel that there is some overlap in social engagement and delivering material on a subject because both to a certain extent, involve large groups which may make introverts uncomfortable. However, it is true that delivering material on a subject and social engagement with many people can be very different experiences.

        For yourself, are you more of an introvert or extrovert? Did your introversion or extroversion affect your choice of career?

        How has your introversion or extroversion led to obstacles/ helped you in your career of choice?
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          Jan 17 2013: I am an introvert. I think that has had more implication for I have spent my time when not at work than it has my career.
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      Jan 15 2013: what if you try to see it as i defined below? introversion = energy conservation, extraversion = energy using. being an enthusiast, being able to give a lecture to 300 and not feel anxious is not a determining factor. but do you enjoy talking to people just for the sake of talking to people? do you enjoy fun like being with friends without doing anything, garden parties, brainless movies with popcorn, dancing and such things? or rather you are focused on results, and you dislike activities that does not result in something, as they are just a waste of time? i believe that is the main difference. an introvert sees the energy wasted, and tries to eliminate it. an extravert sees the energy spent, and tries to maximize it.

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