Monday, September 01, 2003

This argument could go on a while...

By: Michael Akerman

Well, Ed, once again, you show an... interesting business sense and misunderstanding of psychology.

First, let me clarify. Society THINKS they hate introverts. People do not hate introverts. In fact, people are more likely to hate extroverts, as they may not only be annoying, rude, incompetent and overbearing, but also talkative and around all the time. The introverts who are annoying and overbearing are rather easy to avoid, because they're perfectly fine with being avoided. Most introverts are not incapable of interaction, because it is necessary in life. In fact, they have exactly the same capability for interaction as extroverts, but they do not garner the same enjoyment as extroverts. They are still polite, caring, helpful, and even charismatic, but they would rather not meet a lot of new people. Their communicatory skills are still evident among their friends, whom they are far more devoted to than extroverts.

Now, you say that colleges want extroverts to spread their praises by word-of-mouth. I assure you, colleges do not need word of mouth. A college's business is not based on how much its name is shouted from the rooftops, but rather the quality of its programs and its location. The only factor in college choice that is based on popularity revolves around sports teams (would so many people care about Duke or UNC-CH if it weren't for sports?), and anyone who actually cares about their education will not base their college choice on the quality of the college's sports team.

Contrarily, what a college relies on is actually success, much of which comes from past introverted students. Colleges blanket high school students with statistics: "graduates from our science programs have won 13 Nobel prizes in the last 20 years, and make, on average, $100,000 upon graduating college", etc.

Now, Ed, you obviously have a very... defined view of business, but it is narrowly applicable. While it is true that in the business field extroverts are favored, in R&D, economic analysis, engineering, and any other science or math field, introverts succeed far more than extroverts. Business owners, Presidents, and CEOs expect results from these people, and in very tangible ways. While in business, it hard or impossible to measure the true impact of a single change, it is logical and simple to do so in science or math. To gain promotions in these fields, one must create good results, a thing introverts are very good at.

The disparity in business between introverts and extroverts is an entirely different and drawn out argument, so I will not argue it here, but I will say this. You say that politics is where the important stuff happens, and that introverts can't succeed because they can't interact. Once again, this is narrow-minded and incorrect. Introverted simply means they do not enjoy certain interactions (large groups, public speaking, and the like). However, introverts are extremely strong-willed on average, and will do what is necessary to gain what they want. If an introvert wants to be a politician, they will most likely succeed just as well or better than most extroverts. They will work at public speaking, and will themselves to present a good image in public, though they will not enjoy this facet of their career. They recognize that this is necessary in their chosen field if they want to make a change and get to the point in their career that they enjoy.

Now, Ed, I am curious. How often do you hear people in public environments, without being asked, spout out what college they went to and start shouting its praises? I certainly have seldom encountered this (there was this one time with Mr. Bender, but that guy's a special case). I also assure you that if a discussion prompts an enumeration of schools attended and their benefits, an introvert will still take part. Being an introvert does not mean being a cynic, and does not mean being reserved in all situations. It also does not mean they will not take part in discussions, even if the discussion is pointless. It strikes me (suddenly, an epiphiny) that perhaps the best way to characterize introverts is not that they don't interact, but rather that they're less likely to accept a new person into their group of friends.

We humans are social creatures. We all interact. We all have to be around people. The difference is that an extrovert may enjoy going to a big party, while an introvert would prefer a small get-together with friends, or perhaps a good book.

Besides, who are people more likely to believe? The introvert who has proven themselves objective, logical, and trustworthy, or the extrovert who strives to please everyone, be politically correct, refuses to see the bad side of things, and partied through most of college?

...I feel like I repeated a lot in that post, but I won't change it for fear of compromising my arguments...