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Archive for May, 2012

     Those of us who are introverts tend to be individualist by nature: do not follow the crowd, think for ourselves and prefer validation for our novel ways of living.  We don’t make most decisions based on what is trendy or popular or based on what the group believes is the only way to find creative solutions, achieve some goal or reach consensus on an issue.

     Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World The Can’t Stop Talking” addresses the idea of collaboration in Chapter 3 When Collaboration Kills Creativity.  She uses “The New Groupthink” to describe the way many institutions are organized.  Schools and workplaces now organize people into groups or teams believing that creativity and productivity comes from a sociable i.e. extroverted place.  Research shows that the opposite is true: the world’s greatest thinkers have often worked in solitude.  Psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (author of “Flow”) and Gregory Feist suggest the most creative people in many fields are introverts because introverts are very comfortable spending time alone: solitude being a crucial and undervalued ingredient for creativity.  Susan Cain provides several examples quoting Malcolm Gladwell, “Innovation – the heart of the knowledge economy – is fundamentally social”: “None of us is as smart as all of us” Warren Bennis, in his book “Organizing Genius” : and “Many jobs that we regard as the province of a single mind actually require a crowd” by Clay Shirkey in “Here Comes Everybody”.  Apparently, some gung-ho team work advocates have even claimed the painting of the Sistine Chapel was a group effort and only completed because Michelangelo’s assistants worked on it, too.  The assistants were ‘apprentices’ and would have worked on small parts of the Sistine Chapel under strict supervision. Michelangelo did the vast majority of the painting, no one else did. Wonder what Michelangelo would think of the claim the Sistine Chapel was a team effort? 

     Groups abound in society as humans have a tendency to form into groups.  There certain features of a group:

  • favour your own group because it’s advantageous to yourself
  • protection of self by protecting others like yourself
  • imposes unwritten rules upon members of the group, with the expectation that  individual members will be loyal and conform or face consequences such as expulsion and/or blackballing 
  • warp or exaggerate our decisions
  • dull or stifle creativity
  • favour members of a group over others
  • look for a leader to worship
  • fight other groups and/or individuals for supremacy
  • look for a leader to ‘worship’

     I cannot speak for other introverts but none of the attributes of belonging to a group seem positive or remotely appeal.  Maybe there are groups which do not share most of these attributes that are perceived as cult-like or cliquey by me.  This introvert does not get the ‘need’ to belong to a group, to think collectively rather than as an individual. LOL  The groups I’ve encountered have been very negative experiences, mostly because my introverted characteristics were totally at odds with most or all of the above characteristics.  Likely, I am not alone.      

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Could this be true?  Extroverts often perceive the introvert in their midst very negatively: solitary, antisocial, perhaps mentally ill, off in our own little world, passive, loner, nonverbal – the list could go on and on.  Our natural inclination to be quiet, preferring solitude to the idle chitchat that goes on around us and requiring quiet to think sets us apart from the office social butterflies.  That we are different and don’t socialize is immediately a hot topic around the water cooler at work or in a social situation: have personal experience with this. Gossip can and does escalate and it is never positive.    

     What is gossip, and how does the dictionary define it? Oxford defines it as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.”  Dictionary.com’s definition: “idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.”  Another definition found described it as malicious talk, based on assumptions, innuendoes, erroneous beliefs and perceptions…basically ignorance.  Occasionally, someone may actually try getting information from someone who isn’t providing what they want to know.  I’ve actually had someone say to someone else standing nearby but clearly referring to me (the clue being they were looking in my direction LOL) ‘we’ll have to pump her for information!’  Apparently, the two co-workers believed I really wouldn’t have two clues what they intending.  Somehow, people equate quiet people as being naïve or deaf, or stupid: perhaps all three??  Ummm, none of these in my case.     

     So why do people gossip and what motivates gossipers?  The research on this topic was fascinating!  

    People gossip for various reasons:

  • to humiliate and put others down
  • out of spite, just because they can
  • because they will benefit in the end result, such as looking better in the boss’s eye (employment setting
  • a deep rooted reason – the gossiper feels as if he/she is a much better person than the subject of the gossip
  • feel superior
  • out of boredom  – these people need another hobby!
  • out of envy – people gossip to hurt those whose popularity, talents or lifestyle they envy
  • to feel like part of the group – when acceptance is based on being ‘in on a secret’, it is not based on a person’s identity but rather on exclusion or maliciousness
  • for attention – person may be the centre of attention while divulging a juice bit of gossip but this is a temporary situation and has little foundation
  • out of anger and unhappiness – sense of retribution with disparaging remarks

 

     According to Eckhart Tolle, ego has much to do with gossiping. Some people suffer from a sense of inferiority than do others and they will do whatever it takes, including passing gossip around, to make themselves look better than others no matter what the cost

    People will gossip about things that happen and stretch them, causing more of an impact when disclosed.  They will gossip about something that is completely untrue, making up the story causes such a rush on the gossiper – they get a power surge from this experience – that they can’t contain themselves and just spit out this story they’ve concocted in their own minds (probably have convinced themselves it’s true too lol)

   The person who gossips about you is someone who carries some (or a lot) of resentment towards you and who doesn’t face the courage to face you directly.  The person has no option other than dissing and discussing you in your absence.  People will gossip about you if they’re jealous of you, if they aren’t strong enough to face you or if they feel worthless.  They will attempt to make themselves more worthy by saying that or implying that they are better than someone else. 

    Is there a way to counteract gossip?  Maybe.

    If gossip is heard, you (yes you the introvert! lol) could try:

   You seem to talk about _____ a lot.  Why the interest?  That this question would be posed by an introvert would blow the mind of a gossip.

   Let’s take a look at things from ______’s side.

   I’m more interested in what you’re up to.  This statement might just have the gossip run for cover.  It’s been an observation that gossips don’t generally want to reveal a whole lot about themselves but they love to dig dirt on others.  Since gossips love to dig dirt so much, why don’t they take up gardening? It would give them a new hobby. LOL 

     

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