“I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork…for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding.” (Albert Einstein)
Even the famous scientist confirms that creativity and good ideas are far from being born only in a group. Albert Einstein, renowned also for his complex character, was an introvert and, finally, one of many similar to him, gifted and resourceful people who best create alone.
It’s Time to Shine
Although the attention is increasingly focused on the diversity of human qualities and introverts, who are, as can be said, partially stigmatized by society, are finally coming into question. It shows that extroversion is still in the lead in some areas. However, the pandemic and the related restrictions have brought many changes to the work system. “Even though the beginning of the pandemic also meant concerns about my health and the loved ones. When it came to work, I did not feel fear or uncertainty, as many others certainly felt,” Andrea recalls the first months of the beginning of the pandemic. She has worked in a successful private company for online education for several years. “The atmosphere in the company is really nice, but for me as an introvert, this work also presents several disadvantages, probably more than for “ordinary” people, which I clearly feel, unlike my colleagues. That is why, in the end, I positively accepted the almost immediate change – working from home. From day to day, our home environment has turned into a work environment.”
One Step Forward
Every sphere of life has changed radically in this challenging period. Although we have partially returned to the old ways and initial fears, fear and isolation have replaced the pre-pandemic worries, some changes have remained in place. And these represent a significant step forward and bring benefits to both parties, employers, and employees, such as work efficiency, savings, better well-being, and much more. “Just in terms of time, it certainly had an advantage for most people. Instead of the time I had to spend preparing and moving to work in rush hour in the morning or arranging the necessary things that I could not postpone until the afternoon, I slept a little longer and went to work in a good mood. It’s not about convenience, but I’ve never been an early bird. Therefore I have always struggled with fatigue during the most productive hours. When I add the trip home, we’re basically talking about two and a half hours,” Andrea explains. “I learned quickly that work is easier for me in a home environment where there are no strangers, I can have more new ideas, and I am happier.”
Ideas do not have to be born only in a group and said out loud, but also in silence and loneliness.
Extroverts vs. Introverts
Group thinking, characteristic of many companies, whether private or public and also one of the principles of brainstorming, does not favor a particular type of introverted people. They follow the slogan that the key to success is the team – which does not mean it is not true but automatically discriminates against individuals of a different mindset. As many introverts can be exhausted by face-to-face communication, among other things. Most of the workspaces were created by extroverts for extroverts. “It took me a lot of mental strength to concentrate all day in the office, where many people were still moving around during the day. Moreover, constant contact with people deprived me of energy because, as a sensitive person, I tried to satisfy everyone and be an attentive listener. But then I didn’t have enough energy to do the job. So communication with people and the fact that I had to be in a room where there was too much diverse energy and disruptive elements rather exhausted me,” Andrea continues. While extroverts draw energy from social interaction, introverts may feel burned out at the end of the day. Neuroscientists have found that extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine and therefore require many different stimuli to be sufficiently charged with energy. On the other hand, introverts are much more susceptible to chemicals in the brain, and excessive stimulation causes them to fatigue.
Despite some pitfalls, changing the rules at work during the pandemic has made the work more efficient. The characteristics of introverts have even proved beneficial. The hidden virtues of their nature had a chance to reach the sun. Analytical thinking, empathy, and reliability, in which introverts excel, have proven to be crucial for projects that need enough time and remote communication in times of pandemic. ” I felt comfortable in a home environment surrounded by what made me feel good. I was able to fully concentrate. Contact with people got a different dimension. I received pleasant responses, which made me even more excited, “Andrea points out the benefits of working from home.
Loneliness Contributes to Creativity
In Quiet, the book on introverts, the American author Susan Cain describes many stories and studies. She tries to bring readers closer to the way introverts think. She also mentions a study from 1956 to 1962, when the Institute of Personality Assessments and Research at the University of California, Berkeley, carried out many significant studies on the nature of creativity. Researchers tried to find the most creative individuals and figure out how they differ from others. They invited many prolific architects, mathematicians, scientists, technicians, and writers to Berkeley for the weekend to undergo various tests and experiments.
Then the researchers did something similar with people of the same professions, whose contribution was not as groundbreaking as that of the overachievers.
One of the most exciting discoveries was that the most creative people have a strong social tendency to be introverted. They were equipped with interpersonal skills but not with the qualities of people with social or participatory temperaments. They described themselves as independent and individualistic, as children were practically shy and lonely. Andrea, who described herself as an introvert in the workplace, nods her head in agreement. “That’s right. Of course, there are many types of introverts, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve always been more of a lone wolf, which doesn’t mean I haven’t been looking for company at the same time. And in previous jobs, when I was also working freelance, I was able to do just that – and finally, to a large extent, being the master of my time, space, and the way to do my job, I also appreciate a lot of ‘non-introverts,’ especially now, when we have new experiences. We have put ourselves in different unusual and new work positions.”
These discoveries do not mean that introverts are always more creative than extroverts. Still, they suggest that in a group of people who are incredibly creative always, it is highly likely to find a lot of introverts. They prefer to work independently, and loneliness can be their catalyst for innovation – an important fact that explains and confirms many other studies. In addition, introversion concentrates the mind on the tasks being solved. It prevents energy dispersion on social and other problems that are not necessarily related to work.
It’s Time for a Change
Ideas do not have to be born only in a group and said out loud, but also in silence and loneliness. And when we learn to listen carefully to people, we can understand them more quickly and recognize their qualities. “I am lucky to have an employer who is so empathetic that they allowed me to keep the way I worked during the pandemic because they know that this way, I am a much more talented employee. Plus, it taught me not to be afraid to say what I want. The rigid system needs to be changed at last. I think that employers, in general, should finally stop looking for obstacles as to why employees cannot be more accommodated because, in the end, they can find that work can be much more efficient, more fun, enjoyable, and, ultimately, about good relationships. And that, in my opinion, is the basis of every successful company”, concludes Andrea with a smile.
Text: Miriama Vojteková, photo: www.stock.adobe.com