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An edited and revised book on public speaking for introverts based on the articles from this site

The Extravert World

It’s a busy world outside.  We take crowded public transport; overflowing tube trains, bulging busses full of iphoning executives and chattering school kids.  Walking down the street, dodging the hen parties and tourists, you spot someone talking to himself – not a sign of insanity, just a mobile head set.  Everyone is talking.  And they want you to be part of the conversation.

They are suspicious of you if you decline.

Its tiring, isn’t it?

Its an extravert world.  There are more extraverts than introverts according to most studies, and even if there weren’t, extraverts tend to shout louder, they tend to get noticed.  And herein lies the problem:  getting noticed.  Getting noticed is the key to success, and introverts, naturally, tend to shy away from the spotlight.  They know that the more they put themselves forwards, the more people will ask them to put themselves forwards, and the more energy they will keep having to spend.  They also know if they put themselves forwards, they face the possibility of criticism and rejection.  The extravert world views criticism and rejection as somebody else’s opinion – there are always more people to love.  But the introvert takes it to heart.  And dealing with criticism – that too is draining.

Perhaps the introvert, in his quest to get noticed decides to excel – in the office or classroom.  Surely people will notice the quality of his work?  Perhaps, but the schoolroom, and the workplace are domains created to make the best out of the majority – the extraverts.  Gone are the days of rows of desks and working in silence.  Gone are individual offices with doors which can shut, and the peaceful solitude they offer.  Now we have group working, brainstorming, meeting after meeting after meeting.  And we have the open plan office where the introvert can never retreat fully into his own mind, because there is always an extravert about to walk up behind him and ask another unimportant question.

It doesn’t matter that introverts may be known for being able to produce better work (they are).  It doesn’t matter that open plan offices are known to be huge productivity killers (they are).  What matters is that the extraverts are in charge – they are making the decisions:  decisions which suit them.

The extravert doesn’t really understand the introvert.  when the introvert shys away from having to talk to someone, the extravert becomes suspicious – what is the introvert trying to hide?  When the introvert looks for solitude, the extravert suspects them of skiving off.  The extravert can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to work with other people – unless you were clearly inferior to them.  Indeed, the thought of being alone for too long to an extravert is akin to a death sentence.  The extravert likes the open plan office, because the alternative is terrifying to him – and the extravert believes everyone else agrees.

Introverts scare extroverts.  The most damning thing said when a neighbour turns out to be a serial killer is “He was very quiet.  He always kept himself to himself”.  Even introverts are taught from birth than introversion is wrong, and can be overcome.  Dale Carnigies “How to Make Friends and Influence People” has been the surefire way to success for the best part of a century.  Introverts have been trying to make themselves heard.  They’ve been trying to act like extraverts.

And they’ve been failing.  Because acting like an extravert is tiring.  Eventually you burn out, give up, and return to the peace and quiet of the library.

There must be another way.