Archive for the 'Introversion/extroversion' Category

Are you a “tuner” or a “spinner?”

At first glance, “spinner” and “tuner” seem like another way of saying extrovert and introvert.

But the explanation of these terms offered by David Brooks, drawing on the work of Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein, offers fresh insights into these temperaments.

Brooks explains the distinction this way:l

“The spinner is the life of the party. The spinner is funny, socially adventurous and good at storytelling, even if he sometimes uses his wit to maintain distance from people.

“Spinners are great at hosting big parties.

“They’re hungry for social experiences and filled with daring and creativity. Instagram and Twitter are built for these people. If you’re friends with a spinner you’ll have a bunch of fun things to do even if you don’t remember them a week later.

“The tuner makes you feel known. The tuner is good at empathy and hungers for deep connection. The tuner may be bad at small talk, but in the middle of a deep conversation the tuner will ask those extra four or five questions, the way good listeners do.

“If you’re at a down time in your life, the spinners may suddenly make themselves scarce, but the tuners will show up. The tuners may retreat at big parties, but they’re great one-on-one over coffee. If you’re with a person and he’s deepened your friendship by revealing a vulnerable part of himself, you’re with a tuner….

“Now if you are looking for friends, the spinners are great. But my questions for the class are: If you’re looking for a life partner, should you go for your same type or your opposite? Should you marry someone who meets your strengths or fills your needs?

“My guess is that if you can’t find someone with both traits, marry a tuner, even if that gives your relationship a little extra drama.”

In Western culture extroverts are celebrated for their outgoing natures and large social networks.

Introverts, on the other hand, are often described as shy, “in a shell,” and even anti-social, qualities for which they are sometimes judged and even shamed.

As an introvert I often find myself explaining and even defending to extroverts (and sometimes even to introverts) the important qualities introverts bring to work settings, families, and friendships.

The notion of “spinners” and “tuners” adds another dimension to that explanation.

What is your experience with these two temperaments and how they are viewed by society and within your work and personal lives?

We are introverts…

Dennis Sparks

We are anti-social. We are “in a shell.” We are shy, withdrawn, and may even have social phobias. At least that’s what others often think of us.

Who are “we?”

We are introverts, and according to various estimates we compose one-third to one-half of the population. (When I ask educators in various groups how many of them consider themselves introverts, a third or more typically raise their hands, although sometimes a bit reluctantly as if they were admitting a character flaw.)

As an introvert, I was eager to read Susan Caine’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Quit Talking, which helped me understand why I prefer the types of conversations I described in my previous post.

“Introverts,” Caine writes, “… are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling” and “extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves.”

A primary distinction between the types is that introverts recharge themselves in solitude while extroverts restore their energy in social activities.

“Extroverts are the people who will add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes,” Caine observes. “They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say….

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation…. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

Caine describes how the notion of the “extrovert ideal” evolved over time, a perspective that promotes “winning personalities” who are outgoing, dominant, forceful, and charismatic. This ideal has influenced  parents’ and teachers’ views regarding desirable personality traits, how job applicants present themselves in interviews, and common perceptions about the desirable attributes of successful leaders.

Because many educators are introverts, and because introversion is often maligned, it is important that both introverted and extroverted administrators and teacher leaders appreciate the strengths that introverts bring to their work and to the school community and the problems that can occur when it is suppressed in classrooms and schools.

For example, because the notion of the “extrovert ideal” is so strong, many introverts try to fake extroversion, which almost always causes problems.

“[M]any people pretend to be extroverts,” Caine writes. “Closet introverts pass undetected on playgrounds, in high school locker rooms, and in the corridors of corporate America. Some fool even themselves, until some life event—a layoff, an empty nest, an inheritance that frees them to spend time as they like—jolts them into taking stock of their true natures.”

Caine contends that there can be unintended consequences of this charade, though: “Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health.”

While many school leaders are introverts by nature, they have learned how to excel at the one-to-one and group social interactions required in their work.

In addition, effective leaders who are introverts have learned how to cultivate within the school community their best qualities—slowing down and deepening conversations, listening carefully, thinking before they speak, creating a rich interior life through solitude, and being quietly influential.

These leaders do so through personal example, the careful selection of protocols and learning designs for use in meetings and professional development that tap the strengths of all participants, and by recognizing and honoring individual differences.

Successful leaders—whether they are introverts or extroverts by nature—help shape school communities in which everyone is encouraged to bring their best selves to school each day and to continuously develop qualities that enrich their lives.

Do you view yourself as an introvert, and, if so, how have you used the strengths of this disposition to make you a more effective administrator or teacher leader?

How being an introvert can increase your influence

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Leaders are typically expected to be outgoing, forceful, and even charismatic. Effective teachers are often portrayed in that same way, at least in the movies.

There are many examples, however, of effective educators who do not match that description. In fact, many of them are introverts.

You don’t have to dig very deeply into the characteristics of introverts to see why they would make outstanding teachers and administrators—for instance, they are likely to use solitude to gain energy and perspective, quietly observe others to determine how to best support them, and offer thoughtful, well-considered points of view to enrich conversations.

But I hadn’t thought a great deal about the ways in which their preferences would make introverts “quietly influential,” at least not until I read an essay by Jennifer Kahnweiler posted on Mary Jo Asmus’ blog. (Kahnweiler is the author of Quiet Influence: The Introverts’s Guide to Making a Difference.)

Describing scientists she observed in the cafeteria of a research institute, Kahnweiler wrote:

“I saw people sitting alone, eating, reading and simply starring into space. The atmosphere was so calm. These scientists and engineers develop innovative products and breakthrough ideas. I call them ‘quiet influencers,’ those who make a difference by challenging the status quo, provoking new ways of thinking, effecting change and inspiring others to move forward.

“Quiet influencers like these professionals begin their influencing journey where they think and recharge best: in quiet. They frequently return there. And it is not just brilliant scientists who tap into this reservoir to make things happen. The rest of us can benefit greatly from a needed pause in our hectic lives. Here are five key ways in which taking quiet time contributes to significantly increase our ability to influence others.”

Kahnweiler says that such quiet times unleash creativity, sustain energy, cause a better understanding of self and others, and promote focus.

She concludes: “Small steps here can make a big difference. Follow the quiet influencer’s lead and take a nice long walk, turn off your smart phone and even eat lunch alone once in a while. Then sit back and watch as your efforts to influence take shape.”

What is your experience as a “quiet influencer” or as one who has been influenced by such people?

 


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