Introversion — A Blessing Or A Curse?

When working in a creative agency is all about that social drive, does an introvert really survive?

The “quieter” one amongst your group of friends, the one that relishes in alone time buried in a book away from the complexities of the world, or with ear phones constantly plugged in; one that avoids eye contact with a stranger or in awkward situations, or the one that never hesitates to slouch a few centimetres in your seat when the lecturer requests for a volunteer, sounds all too familiar?

If you’ve found yourself identifying with any of the above mentioned, chances are you are an introvert to a certain extent. There is a wide array of articles online which define the various characteristics of whether one belongs under the category of introversion, but there is no fixated classification. Albert Einstein, JK Rowling, Steve Wozniak, the list could go on about number of introverts who have made a difference in this world in one way or another.

The common misconception many have is thinking that introversion is the complete opposite of extroversion. On the contrary, in consideration to a variation of factors including the extremities of expressions, introversion belongs on a spectrum (Grime’s thesis). Although some characteristics are hereditary, I shall not bore you with the scientific explanations for such would have you leaving this site in no time.

When it comes to working at a creative agency, with no doubt will there be many individuals who are extroverts bursting with energy, colour and ideas, but soon you will find out that being an introvert in the same environment is more than being just “the silent thinker”.

1. Introverts And Creativity

According to a study conducted by The Institute of Personality Assessment and Research at the University of California on the nature of creativity, it was found that creative individuals were found to be introverts who are socially poised. These introverts defined themselves to be people who are mostly independent.

Nevertheless, this isn’t a clear-cut indicator that introverts are always more creative compared to the extroverts. Instead, it suggests that in a group of highly-creative people, the likelihood of identifying introverts is much higher.

One of the underlying reasons is because introverts value privacy and transcendence— this comes across as a creative advantage. Working on their own proves to be a stimulus to imagination and novelty, and this is extremely beneficial especially in a creative agency.

2. Self-expression On An Online Landscape

Another interesting find is where studies have shown that introverts are more likely than extroverts to communicate facts about themselves on online platforms. In fact, most are open to the opportunity of doing so.

Upon stumbling on this, I realised the irony of how the same individual who finds it difficult to socialise with individuals he’s never met can establish a presence in the online landscape with greater ease.

Which leads me to my next point, that the benefit of establishing a prominent presence online will inevitably benefit the agency as a whole.

3. Rise Of The New Groupthink

We’ve all been raised aware of the advantages of group work and team bonding, but rarely educated on where such situations fail us.

What is groupthink exactly?

“Groupthink occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”

With that being said, the new groupthink has overtaken our workplace and school environments, which may inevitably impose some form of pressure to introverts. Cooperative learning, teamwork as well as open-office concepts emerged as time progressed. It is no longer uncommon to find pre-schools educating children from young to work in groups, where tables are more often than not arranged in groups.

Group teamwork building conducted in moderation can be enjoyable, encouraging, and beneficial in sharing of opinions and ideas while it builds relationships on the concept of trust. However, little do we realise that brainstorming sessions could cause our downfall in sparking creativity and imagination.

In fact, studies have shown that performance continually declines as the number of individuals in a group rises. Susan Cain attributed three main reasons to this — social loafing, production blocking and evaluation apprehension.

There is a tendency for individuals in groups to take a back seat and let others contribute to the overall work. Even worse, they imitate the opinions of others and lose focus on their own, most of the time becoming a victim of peer pressure. Additionally, production blocking also occurs when one person prevents another from suggesting new ideas in a group discussion.

But there is a silver lining.

Online brainstorming — when conducted on online platforms, becomes more effective with the increase in group size, because taking part in an online working group is maintaining privacy itself.

So what do all these facts indicate? It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t step out of our own personal bubbles, no. Most creative individuals are a unique combination of both extroversion and introversion, they are extroverted enough to come up with an suggest novel ideas, but still see themselves as individualistic people.

To accumulate the energy that drives both extroversion and introversion, it is essential to deviate from the New Groupthink and welcome a different method of approaching novelty and imagination. It isn’t about putting a halt to face-to-face collaborations and brainstorming, but rather enhancing the way such sessions are conducted, where we diligently search for symbiotic introvert-extrovert relationships.

With that, I leave you on a single note — maybe we all have something to learn from introverts. Being an introvert in a creative agency isn’t about trying to outshine the extroverts, for you can be a dark horse too.