How Introverts Can Thrive

In a society that favors extroverts, introverts are paving their own paths.
January 15, 2013

People who love people, just not too many of them at one time, used to be called shy. Now they’re known as introverts. And one of them, author Sophia Dembling, takes a look at the mixed blessings of being an introvert in The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

Dembling acknowledges that certain situations can be trying for introverted businesspeople. “Networking is a huge issue, and particularly challenging for introverts,” she says. Fortunately, most introverts can behave as extroverts when needed, even though it tires them. “I call it putting on my dog-and-pony show. So you go out there and you put your clown nose on, and you glad-hand.” Do introverts need to push themselves out of the corners at big networking events? Maybe it’s more effective to pick your battles, says Dembling, suggesting you instead choose smaller events inside your comfort zone.

Another tip: Play to your strengths. After networking, “I send follow-up emails because I’m good at that,” she says. Dembling’s book combines the results of scientific studies and her own experiences, while Susan Cain, another author who wrote about introversion, labeled leaders: Barack Obama, for example, is an introvert; Bill Clinton, an extrovert. Cain rocketed up best-seller lists in 2012 with Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Do you suspect that you have the quality formerly known as shyness? You can take Cain’s quiz at Then if you test positive, you can follow Dembling’s advice to use that characteristic to your advantage.

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