It’s no secret that our industry is full of those with interesting eccentricities. These characteristics are found in varying degrees with those we come into contact with daily. The extremes of these often manifest themselves as a general perception of those in technology. This even happens as technical characters are portrayed television. One example of this is the computer scientist known as Chloe on the popular television show “24”. On the show, Chloe spends most of her time behind a computer terminal. One of the more prevalent characteristics that is associated with technology is introversion. Although it is not a universally found trait among those in technology, this field certainly proves to be a haven for those with introverted tendencies.
So what exactly is introversion and what does it mean to be introverted? The most important thing that should be realized is that introversion is not an illness. Nothing is physically or psychologically wrong with someone who is introverted. In some cultures introversion is actually more accepted or revered than its counterpart, extroversion. Wikipedia describes introversion as follows (reference Introversion and Extroversion):
Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”. Some popular writers have characterized introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. This is similar to Jung’s view, although he focused on psychic energy rather than physical energy. Few modern conceptions make this distinction.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean one always acts in an introverted manner. There are times when those who are primarily extroverted retreat to their solitude. Likewise, there are times when those who are introverted behave like their extroverted counterparts. Many definitions, including the excerpt from Wikipedia, suggest that introverts recharge themselves by going into solitude while extroverts draw energy from spending time with large groups. Individuals often adjust their personalities as required to fit a particular situation. However, doing so is stressful and often takes a lot of energy.
The following questions will help you determine your propensity toward introversion:
- Do you enjoy having a conversation with no apparent purpose?
- Does participating in an interactive crowd excite you?
- Does social events excite you more than activities of solitude (hiking, fishing, reading)?
- Are you energized after leaving a large dinner party?
If you answered NO to most of these questions, you most likely have a preponderance of introverted tendencies. The good news is that this is not an illness and you don’t need to “fix” it. It is just important that people identify their tendencies and find employment that suits them well. Just as the world needs professionals with differing sets of skills, introverts have many roles to play in a society of extroverts.
As I stated in the opening paragraph, technology seems to be a haven for those with introverted personalities. I classify myself as an introvert, but not painfully shy. I can speak publicly and interact with crowds. However, this interaction always takes a lot of energy and I put a lot of time into preparation. I enjoy meaningful conversations, but despise small talk. The good news is that my work allows for a comfortable mixture of tasks that work out well for me. In addition to that, my longer than average commute time, allows me time to recharge and find balance. I encourage others to understand where they fit on this spectrum and find work that doesn’t over extend them toward either extreme.
Do you define yourself as an introvert? What job roles have you found to work well with your personality? How have you balanced the requirements of your work with your own tendencies? The Tech Interview would love to hear from its readers and encourages sharing experiences by comment system below.
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