What are the benefits of being calm

Quiet people: still waters ...

"Still waters run deep," the saying goes: quiet, introverted people are anything but uninteresting. Of course, in our modern world you can hear the sounds, the extroverts better. Not necessarily for the benefit of all of us.

The world seems to belong to the alpha animals - sociable, willing to take risks, strong in leadership, also loud. They can maintain a society, they tell where to go, they seem to be better partners too. Anyone looking for a partner on the Internet likes to identify themselves as quick-witted, sociable and enterprising.

In contrast, introversion is still often considered a "weak" trait. Introverts are quiet, cautious, not exactly masters of (impersonal) small talk. But there is a lot to be said for the introverts. They are more likely to think before they speak; they concentrate well and are better listeners. You make the more balanced decisions. Susann Cain, lawyer and bestselling author ("Still. The Power of Introverts") even advocates the thesis that the financial crisis of 2008, the consequences of which we are still struggling with, would have been much milder if there were more introverted, calm, level-headed men and women at the time would have had the say in the financial sector.

The two terms introversion and extroversion were introduced into personality psychology by the psychoanalyst C. G. Jung in 1921, originally in a (dualistic) view, according to which most people could be relatively clearly assigned to one or the other pole.

As well ... as

Recent research has shown that “we have to talk about a continuum,” says Christoph Pieh from the Department of Psychotherapy and Biopsychosocial Health at Danube University Krems. “That means that most of the people are somewhere in the middle between the two poles. The characteristics of an introverted or extroverted person are only clearly in the foreground with a smaller proportion. "These personality characteristics remain relatively constant over the course of life, emphasizes Pieh:" They are genetically created and already show when children communicate. Environment and upbringing can very likely modulate these predispositions. ”Research with twins (who grew up separately) has shown that heredity appears to have a stronger influence than upbringing on whether one develops into an introverted or an extroverted person and the environment.

In any case, it makes little sense if parents try to influence development in one direction or the other, even if they fear that their own offspring are not vocal and assertive enough. "Personality traits are not good or bad, they are not a disease even if they are very pronounced," says Christoph Pieh and advises: "You shouldn't bend yourself and others, but stay the way you are."

Write instead of talking

According to Pieh, one only speaks of a disease "when someone - or his environment - suffers from it, when there are fears or other illnesses behind it". Very shy people are fundamentally different from introverts. Shy people avoid social contacts for fear of failing in some form in front of their fellow human beings. For an introvert, the social contacts he has are enough. He likes to read, prefers to write than to talk. He feels good when he has his peace and quiet.

The debate about introverted and extroverted people has recently become topical again against the background of business psychology. Because the world of work is almost exclusively oriented towards the outside world, and professional performance usually only counts when it is put in the right light, the question then arises: What about the other half of humanity? “Evolution hasn't sorted out either type. The world needs both, ”says Sylvia Löhken (author of“ Quiet People - Strong Effects ”).

Smart bosses know how to use this and use the "still waters" where accuracy, concentration, analytical thinking and persistent action are particularly required. In the increasingly complex economic life, teams in companies are particularly successful when both types - loud as well as quiet - are represented and work well together. Especially when it comes to finding new ideas and strategies, introverts can make a lot of constructive contributions if they are not overlooked by the sounds. Christoph Pieh also uses a combination of brainstorming and written contributions in his department in order to achieve the best possible results.

Right mix

According to studies, up to middle management, more extroverted people may be found in executive positions. But there are many introverts to be found in the top management floors of business as well as in science and art. Bill Gates is one such example, or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is also more of an introverted personality. Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Business has shown that companies that demand initiative from their employees are particularly successful when run by introverted bosses - silent leaders who can listen.

Mag. Robert Zauchinger

August 2015

Photo: shutterstock, private


"In terms of whether you develop into a more introverted or extroverted person, heredity seems to play a much greater role than upbringing and the environment."
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christoph Pieh
Head of the Center for Psychosomatic Medicine and Supervision, Danube University Krems

‌ Last updated on November 13, 2020