9 Hidden Strengths of Introverts
The wallflowers in your life are harboring secret powers. Here are just a few.
Introverts are problem solvers
Whether you’re looking for relationship advice or wondering how Pythagoras solved a2 + b2, introverts likely have the answers, or know how to find them. Peek inside an introvert’s brain, writes Laurie Helgo, author of Introvert Power, and you’ll see “a flurry of activity in the frontal cortex, the command center for complex mental activities—the ones that involve taking in data, integrating it with stored information, and generating higher-order solutions and responses.” If you fall closer to the other end of the spectrum, check out the personality strengths of extroverts.
Introverts are well prepared
Introverts’ penchant for exhaustive preparation, especially at work, might originate from their tendency to take longer than extroverts to think through and respond to questions. (There’s a neurological reason for this: Information actually takes a longer path through the brain of an introvert than it does through the brain of an extrovert.) To avoid unexpected questions, introverts rely on preparing for nearly every query in advance. “Being prepared also contributes to feeling confident,” says Kahnweiler. That’s a feeling introverts may not normally have when heading into a meeting.
Introverts are often great writers
Isaac Asimov, who penned I, Robot and other works of science fiction, once said, “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” Fellow introverts, many of whom find comfort in expressing themselves through writing, will likely agree. “Introverts focus on depth versus breadth,” says Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of Quiet Influence. “They can write out their ideas in full and be sure they are clarifying their ideas instead of being cut off by others.” (Think you fall somewhere in the middle? Check out the signs you might be an ambivert.)
And excellent listeners
Because they’re quiet by nature, introverts are “natural-born listeners,” writes Kahnweiler. They tend to carefully take in all information and opinions, and only after digesting it, offer a thoughtful answer. In fact, a study from Harvard Business School found that introverts can be better leaders than extroverts, especially when their team members are naturally proactive. “An introverted leader is more likely to listen to and process the ideas of an eager team,” writes study Harvard Business School professor Carmen Nobel. Here are some of the best kinds of jobs for introverts.
Introverts are creative thinkers
Research by psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist have found that the most creative people in many fields are introverts. “Our culture is biased against quiet and reserved people,” Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, writes on CNN.com. “But introverts are responsible for some of humanity’s greatest achievements.” Steve Wozniak, Dr. Seuss, Charles Darwin, and other creative geniuses, for example, all enjoyed their solitude. Would you ever guess these famous folks are introverts?
Introverts are good friends
Fiercely loyal, intensely attentive, and undeniably reliable, introverts are usually great friends. And consider yourself lucky—since they have a prefer a small inner circle, they’re very picky when choosing friends.
Introverts are observant
Introverts take in everything around them, and usually delay reaction more than their extroverted peers, possibly giving them a leg-up on understanding their surroundings. Researchers from Yale University found that “introverts prone to melancholy seem to be more astute at understanding how we behave in groups than their gregarious peers.” Even though extroverts are generally credited with higher social intelligence, introverts have a strong understanding of the world around them. Check out these pieces of honest dating advice for introverts.
Introverts are independent and self-motivated
Working with an introvert? You’re in luck! Not only are they great creative thinkers, as mentioned before, but they will add new dimensions and balance to your team. It’s important to remember, however, that they might not work in the same style as extroverted coworkers. Meetings and group work will be less conducive to efficiency for introverts; as Forbes reports, it is essential for introverted employees to be given time, space, and the ability to play to their own strengths.
Introverts have a unique leadership style
Generally, we think of leaders as extroverts—after all, managing others is a very socially involved job. Extrovert leaders project confidence, ambition, and gregariousness, which are valued traits, but because introverts are less vocal they are often perceived to be weaker leaders. Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader, listed several strengths of introvert leaders in an interview with Forbes: tendency to not dominate a conversation, information synthesis, thoughtful preparation, calm focus, grounded energy, and ability to reassure others in difficult times. Check out these networking tips for introverts at work.