Think. Speak. Repeat. Why Introverts Rule.

I’ve spent most of my adult life believing I’m an extrovert (thank you, Meyers Briggs). Yet my best stuff—the most original, bad-ass ideas—comes when the noise is off. Solo. In introvert space.

Susan Cain covers this waterfront in “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”

If you’re not sure where you are on the scale (and can live without scientific validity), try her Quiet Quiz.

Bottom line: introversion is highly underrated.

In my practice, the most successful clients—consultants, authors and artists—are often introverts at heart. Their unique value—and their best content—comes from deep study, focused creation or both. Their introversion is the very thing that allows them the space to create work that matters.

And work that sells.

The challenge?

Putting themselves in the limelight in the right doses.

Situational extroverts can be wildly successful. They have the introversion needed to create deep and meaningful content, but push themselves (often to their unexpected delight) to take the stage to share their wisdom, wit and art.

Stand-up comics and musicians who write their own material are classic situational extroverts. But there is also the author who has done deep, original research and takes to the lecture circuit to spread the word. Or the expert who plays media commentator when hot stories break.

Got a big, well-executed idea? Maybe—just maybe—a little push on the extroversion button will get you a bigger audience.

Think. Speak. Repeat.


  • Mark Frederick

    I like the concept of “situational extroversion”.

    That makes a lot of sense to me as I’ve been finding that many people have qualities of both introvert and extrovert, making them ambiverts, or a blend of both.

    As you say, the trick becomes when to adapt the qualities in various situations “in the right doses”.

    Thanks for your post!

  • And I like “ambiverts” Mark–I’m going to use that one 🙂 Thanks for your comments!

  • Took the test.

    Got labeled an “I” — Read the definition for “I’s” and “E’s” and felt both fit me.

    Perhaps the answer lies in fitting oneself to either extreme where it works and knowing when to blend appropriately (some level of the (ambi”).

    Thus perhaps Mark (7/9 at 10:41 p.m.) should extend “situational” to introversion as well as extroversion.

    And this discussion brings me back to reading B.F. Skinner in my junior year in high school who emphasized extremes in behavior; I quickly learned that rather than painting things black or white, as The Monkees sang, it was only Shades of Gray.

  • Like any scale, being in the middle is –theoretically–easier. There is more room to maneuver if you’re not hanging out at either end. But we can only push our natural inclinations so far–to remain authentic while creating optimum situations for success. Delicate balance!

  • I have never heard of a “Situational Extrovert” – But that explains a lot.

  • Hi Jon–and welcome! It may simply be my practice–but I do know a lot of “situational extroverts”. They tend to be deep thinkers with a point of view that means enough to them that they put themselves on public platforms. And, often, actually enjoy it because they are spreading the ideas that matter most to them….

  • anne mcnamara

    Hi Rochelle,

    I found this article very interesting, especially the detail on “situational extroversion,” because it is makes the puzzle fit together, never heard of that before and love learning something new, so thank you for that!

    Myers Briggs is so popular but I always wondered if it was more an evaluation of how one perceives oneself only for the duration of the assessment. If you gave me the test the following week I may have completely different answers! And my peers may have a very different perception and consensus.

    The self can be fluid and some say we all have different selves that can come into play but at any given time one will secure the foreground more than others so some of these categories are bewildering and context dependent.

    Intuitively I still think the dreamers need that much more solitude even if they have bursts of extroversion.

    • Rochelle

      Hi Anne, Thanks for such a thoughtful perspective! I work with a lot of “situational extroverts” who fall exactly into your last category–they need some quiet to do their great work but then can’t wait to spread the word…

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