i have a confession to make. i am an introvert. i know, how can a reporter and tv show host be friends with an introvert? but i think we can do it – it’s about balance – so don’t worry. i have some very extroverted friends, and i manage. although, i’m not sure you’re actually a huge extrovert. i think you really value time alone or in small groups, you just have a public and social life as a career. so basically, we’re still destined to be bff.
anyway, a few years ago my department at work did the meyers-briggs personality type assessment. our group of 6 people had 5 extroverts, and me, the lone and hardcore introvert. that day long session was really important for me. i learned that sometimes people just can’t help but talk. i can be chatty, sure, especially with a few drinks! but even when i am talking a lot, i choose my words carefully. i don’t talk around a subject, telling 14 non-related stories before i answer a simple question. nor do i love to brainstorm as a group. or spend hours discussing every possible detail of an issue.
i am an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) and i am proud to be! even if it is a bit of a curse. introverts are a much maligned group of people. add that intuitive trait to the mix and we are kind of all-knowing as well. i really enjoy observation and contemplation. but in a world that celebrates celebrity, talking heads and gossip, i am left judging. not that there’s anything wrong with that. we all need a coping mechanism and that’s often mine. the person in the elevator who recounts their adventure doing errands the night before deserves my death stares because all i want is a few minutes silence before sitting down to work. and the person who lectures on their hobbies and interests, should just go do them rather than bore me.
like yours, my job involves a lot of talking, which can be exhausting. but at work there are two kinds of talking. the endless meeting and rehashing everything i can’t stand. everyone talks so much, it’s sometimes like a word count competition at some of our meetings. when i speak, i try to make sure i’m being concise and that what i’m saying brings value to the discussion. the other kind of talking that i do enjoy, is the discussions with our stakeholders. i love explaining what we do as a company, describing the details of our projects and debating the necessity of what we do. i have a lot of coworkers who don’t enjoy that at all. but i like the challenge and more importantly i know there is value in every one of those discussions. if i have to choose, i would never talk to a single coworker again, and just talk to our stakeholders. it’s still talking, but at least it’s purposeful.
while on the subject of purposeful speaking, i have to mention my mom. i love my mom. she is funny and cool, and a very good sport. but she talks a lot. on our trip to new orleans, it felt constant and i was overwhelmed. she complained that i’m not like my sister who will have lengthy discussions about everything and nothing with her, while i am practically mute in comparison. i told her, i just don’t feel like i have to talk all the time. my mom’s inner monologue is actually 100% externally produced. a couple weeks after our tip, she was visiting and we had sushi for dinner. i was faced with a barrage of statements; “oh this looks good”, “lots of wasabi”, “that salmon looks great”, i hope they gave us enough soya sauce”. it just would not stop. so i delicately made a suggestion. i told her to say every second thing she thinks. and before she speaks, just think about the importance of her words.
so anderson, am i a bad daughter? or did i do the right thing? i think i was doing both her, and the greater public, a real service. my mom often has really interesting things to say, but, much like the boy who cried wolf, they may get lost amongst all the other things she says. and anderson – how do you always manage to engage with people? are you an extrovert or an introvert?