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01/25/2016

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Stacey Goguen

I've been thinking a lot about these posts on shyness because, although I've always thought of myself as introverted, I end up firmly on the "not that shy" / "not having a problem networking" side of the divide that gets cast in this discussion. (I used to joke that I'm an introvert who's good at playing an extrovert.) But then again, I've always assumed that there are more introverts than extroverts in academia. (Maybe's I'm wrong on this?) Anyway, while these labels can be useful for signaling what sorts of social tendencies a person has (i.e. needing to be along or around people for comfort or 'recharging' their social energy), I think emphasizing types can get in the way once we want to talk more specifically about certain skills and situations.

For instance, I've started thinking about the circumstances under which I am especially introverted, shy, and socially awkward.
Example: If I don't know anyone in a room, and the people who do know everyone else won't introduce me or include me in conversations, I get shy and awkward and grumpy. But if I'm the one who knows everyone, I try to make introductions and I feel a lot more at ease and in my element. This is one reason why the conference circuit has gotten easier for me the more I've done it. The more people I know, the more comfortable I feel, even if I still occasionally need to find a corner to be by myself and recharge.

I think this is the direction Eric's going in too, in talking about listening as a skill and the ways that extroverts don't have a constant advantage that's free of its own costs.

tl;dr - When talking about making networking or other activities less painful, I think it might be helpful to think less in terms of types of people, and more about the specific circumstances under which people may act more or less introverted/shy/awkward/etc.

Schliesser, Eric

Fully agreed, Stacey! (And apologies--your post had ended up in the typepad spambox.)

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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