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Are you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

Susan Cain explains why it’s important to know where you are on the introvert-extrovert continuum.Susan Cain explains why it’s important to know where you are on the introvert-extrovert continuum.Are you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert? This is a question Susan Cain poses in the closing talk for JMP Discovery Summit, “Quiet: How to Harness the Strengths of Introverts to Transform How We Work, Lead and Innovate,” and it’s an important question to ponder. How we answer this question has implications not just for how we interact with others, but also how we interact with the world.  

Susan shares research showing that introverts and extroverts are wired differently. Our nervous systems can be more or less responsive to stimuli depending on where we are on the spectrum of introversion to extroversion.  This has important implications for the best environments for us to work, think, create and thrive. Introverts prefer more quiet environments to be at their best.

Susan’s own story about how she pushed herself to be more extrovert-like led her to think critically about her need for quiet. Thankfully, she shares more of this in her book, The Quiet Revolution, as well as in her talks. 

To overcome our cultural bias in undervaluing traits of introverts and overvaluing traits of extroverts, she shares some ideas to make the most of our collective talents, regardless of where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Here are just a few:

  • Solitude and creativity go together; to foster creativity and innovation, allow time for solitude.
  • Before meetings, introverts should brainstorm by themselves; this will yield more and better ideas than group brainstorming.
  • Extroverts should schedule one-on-one time with introverts with advance notice to prep to “get the best of their brains.”

We’re delighted Susan took the time to be with us for her talk and the book signing. She certainly has inspired how I think about the best way to develop leaders, manage groups and stimulate innovation.