Extraverts Must Learn to Be More Introverted

man on rock with laptop-Geoffrey JamesThe online business world was created by introverts for introverts. To be successful extraverts must learn the new rules.

Online, it’s the extraverts–with their clingy need to be around other people and insecure craving for attention–who are the real fish out of water.

Almost all how-to success books advise readers to become more extroverted. The assumption is that you’ll do better in business and in life if you’re a “people person.”

Under this way of thinking, being introverted is a handicap or maybe even a form of mental illness.  Extraverts rule; introverts are the sad loners of the world.


Maybe back in the day when telephones were high tech, success depended upon your ability back-slap, glad-hand and get all chummy with all and sundry.

With today’s technology, it’s the “people people” who are obsolete.  When you’re online, introverts rule; extraverts are the sad and needy ones.

Perhaps you may not have noticed, but the people who created the everything from the PC to the Internet to the Smartphone were all introverts.  Every blessed one.

Indeed, the entire point of all that technology is to make it easier for people to get things done remotely without dealing person-to-person. Classic introvert thinking.

Extraverts are mentally stuck in meat-space. Today, the power-players are the introverts who are comfortable interacting online.

For example, suppose you’re sitting across the table from somebody who pulls out his smartphone in the middle of a conversation and checks his messages.

An extravert will get all upset and huffy, like it’s some kind of huge insult.  An introvert will usually shrug it off.  Or pull out her own smartphone.

Better yet, an introvert would have had the good sense to have the meeting online anyway, thereby avoiding the entire problem.

With a good pair of headsets, an introvert can work anywhere, even in those dreadful open plan offices that extraverts love so much.

Extraverts, on the other hand, can’t seem to get much done  without surrounding themselves with people and eating up everyone else’s time.

To be successful today, extraverts need to learn the skills that come naturally to introverts, like:

  • Working alone for sustained periods of time
  • Drawing energy from your own thought processes
  • Cultivating self-reliance, self-motivation and self-awareness
  • Thinking things through before shooting off your mouth
  • Listening to people rather than forcing them to listen to you
  • Writing 100 word emails rather than 30 minute presentations.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but it’s the extraverts who need to change their personalities to become more successful. Not the introverts.

Introverts created the online world. We’re perfectly happy to let extraverts play in our sandbox, as long as they’re willing to play by our rules.

Originally published at Inc.

Geoffrey James

Geoffrey James

Geoffrey James, writes a daily column for Inc.com and is the author of the newly-published book Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

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