Maybe you are wondering why I am combining these two seemingly contrary traits. These traits cannot exist in parallel to each other. But they can and do, and I am living proof. On my original blog, in my most enduring and highly viewed post to date I talk about being an introvert with extroverted tendencies. And mention that I like to collaborate.
Collaboration is to work with another person on within a group toward a shared goal. Collaboration is a powerful way to take a good idea and make it something stellar through the use of the strengths of multiple people. True collaboration, and not the buzzword ‘collaborative’, can and does improve plenty of projects.
Introversion simply means that a person wants to choose where, when, with whom and for how long they interact with other people. Having no control over any of those points creates an energy drain for the introverted person. Introversion is not shyness, though Dictionary.com lists introversion as a synonym, because shyness is more about wanting to fade into the background when in a group. Shyness is timidity, wanting to limit your exposure to the unfamiliar. A person can be introverted and not be shy and vice versa.
All of the above is lead in to my topic, being a collaborative introvert. It took me a very long time to understand my introversion because I am not a complete introvert. But I often came away from group interactions feeling exhausted and anxious and I couldn’t figure out why. And part of the reason why I didn’t understand is because I love shared ideas. I get jazzed up when a group situation offers a chance to develop an ok idea or plan into a much better one.
It has only been in the last few years, as I thought about defining these traits for myself that I realized the distinctions. And the parameters that I need to create for myself to prevent that exhausted, anxious feeling. Or at least lessen it as much as I can.
Simple things really help – taking a moment to compose myself before walking into the room, having at least some pre-idea of what might happen (meeting topic/agenda, reason for the event, who will be attending, etc.), knowing when I need a break. I also almost always have a notebook with me to jot things down (for potential blog posts later).
What about you do you find value in collaboration? Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Related: I also wrote this follow up, Introversion Revisited – How Could I Resist?, which didn’t play as well.
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