Introverts Can Be Great Data AnalystsIntroverts Can Be Great Data Analysts
Are you an introvert in a world that favors extroverts? This dynamic creates a challenging cultural pressure for analytics professionals.
August 5, 2014
Analytics professionals are often told they need to be good at collaborating with the business, outgoing advocates of their analysis, and good storytellers. I always thought this was good advice, but lately I've been thinking how very difficult this might be for some people.
What's got me thinking is a book I've been reading, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," by Susan Cain. You may have heard of it, as it came out in January 2012. A family member thought I might like it and loaned me a copy to read. Coincidentally, I recently noticed the paperback version at my local Costco.
The author, herself an introvert, examines the rise of what she calls the Extrovert Ideal, questions the thinking that has made extroversion such a valued business quality, and shares the stories of one successful introvert after the next -- from Rosa Parks to Steve Wozniak. The book is chockful of history, psychology, and neuroscience, an interesting cultural exploration of these personality traits.
Defining the traits
As Cain points out, you won't find a standard definition of introversion and extroversion, as personality psychologists all bring their own perspectives to bear in defining these sorts. A good starting place for understanding the difference is with the work of psychologist Carl Jung, who popularized the terms "introvert" and "extrovert" with his 1921 tome, "Psychological Types." Jung theorized that introverts tend to look inward to their own thoughts and feelings while extroverts direct their attention outward to other people and external activities. Introverts are often shy, though shyness and introversion are not one and the same. They tend to be contemplative and reserved, especially in contrast to the stereotypical aggressive, outgoing, social animal known as the extrovert.
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