Societies always have expectations about how people should feel, think, and act. This is a fact across all nations and societies throughout all of history.
So, what are the cultural “oughts and shoulds” around Extroverts and Introverts in American culture? Or maybe a better place to start would be, which preference do you think American culture says we should be? An Introvert or an Extrovert?
The Influence of Culture
Answering this question is helpful in formulating a general rule of thumb for those stuck on the fence deciding whether they’re an Introvert or Extrovert. The truth is that American culture is an Extrovert-dominated culture. It’s a take-the-bull-by-the-horns, be the Gatsby-esque charmer type of culture that values one’s ability to charm, engage, inspire, and lead others. Therefore, America fosters a highly Extroverted set of societal expectations. As a result, many (though not all) of those sitting on the fence unsure whether they are an Introvert or Extrovert, are probably natural Introverts who have adapted to the culture and grown in their ability to flex their Extrovert muscles.
The opposite is true in more reserved cultures, such as Norway. An Extrovert growing up in Norway likely has some well-developed Introvert tendencies that may mask his or her natural Extroverted preferences.
The Influence of Work
Of course, the inherent nature of business and work often requires a constant level of Extroverted energy. We have to deal with people, meetings, phone calls, and office politics. Leading others does not happen in a vacuum. And neither does the world in which we do our work. So the nature of doing our jobs day-in-and-day-out will inevitably require strengthening of our Extrovert muscles.
The Influence of Stress
Clearly, culture and work exert a strong influence on the expression of preference, even if it doesn’t reveal one’s natural preference. However, another reason you might be undecided in your own self-analysis is the impact of stress. Stress often causes people to act out of their natural tendencies. That’s why an Extrovert working in a highly stressful job for a long time might escape to their inner world as a way of avoiding the place in which they feel the greatest pressure. Likewise, Introverts under extreme stress will often forsake the chaos of their inner world, choosing to let loose and break through their reservations rather than confront the eroding internal discipline and liveliness that once seemed so comforting and safe.
This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how your personality affects your leadership, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!