Some people I’ve worked with have been sheepish while telling me that they get their “batteries recharged” by being alone. Most often I have thought of such comments as a useful tidbit of information that might help me to better understand the people I’m trying to help. People need to take the occasional breather, in whatever form that takes. But there is an important distinction to make between working alone because I do my best work that way (i.e. introverted) and working alone because I fear others (i.e. socially anxious). As long as my clients are getting their needs met, and not avoiding what they fear, I am all for it…”recharging” alone or in a crowd.
Some research suggests that our society’s preference for gregarious personalities, the “team players,” may contribute to the sense of shame for my clients. A TED Talk by author Susan Cain takes a personal look at the experience of introverts, the 40 percent of the population who enjoy frequent solitude and do their best thinking alone. She suggests that American culture celebrates outspoken, team-focused personalities. She shares her story of finding her place as one of the productive and creative people who have NOT wanted to do their work in groups or hang out with a crowd. Is it time to rethink introversion in school/workplace practices and our prejudices?