Don’t Underestimate the Quiet Ones (They’re the Ones Who Actually Think)

What may come across as aloofness is really the consequence of our introvert brains — the wheels of our minds never stop churning.

Because introverts don’t always have a lot to say (at least not verbally), we’re accustomed to being misunderstood and underestimated; we may be pegged as shy, snobbish, indifferent, or boring.   

Yes, it’s true that most of us absolutely loathe small talk; we’re inclined to keep our opinions to ourselves unless a conversation is particularly thought-provoking. (After all, there’s so much more to talk about than the weather!) 

Yet while the Western world considers such silence to be a weakness, the predisposition to remain quiet is, arguably, an introvert’s greatest strength. Through thoughtful silence, we introverts carefully observe, digest, and process new ideas. What many dismiss as a lack of knowledge or competency is, on the contrary, a calculated practice of mindful introspection and deliberate self-control. 

What may come across as aloofness is really the consequence of our overactive brains — the wheels of our minds never stop churning. Our friends are few, but true: We seek depth and integrity in our relationships, and they “get us” for who we are. We introverts are far from outspoken, but don’t be fooled or underestimate us “quiet ones.” As deep thinkers, we’re most capable of making meaningful contributions to society.  

Introverts Are Expert Listeners and Observers Who Can Read the Room

“I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.” –Bill Gates

For introverts, being quiet and actively listening is a useful tool in countless situations —  and, luckily, it comes to us naturally. Silence invites the opportunity to strategically observe one’s environment. By “reading the room” and picking up on every nonverbal expression, we’re often able to inuit whether a person is telling the truth and what they’re feeling. Because we’re always paying close attention, we pick up on subtle cues like body language and facial expression, which research indicates to be a valid way to gauge a person’s emotional state. In a crowd, for example, I can sense whether a person has good intentions (or if they’re an energy vampire, in which case I’ll stay away).

Quiet observation is an introvert superpower that allows us to assess risk, cueing us in to a person’s character and motives. We are careful with whom we trust, and if we catch you lying (something we’re very good at), we’ll call you out. We are always paying attention, so don’t put anything past us — we probably won’t fall for scams or pyramid schemes.

Because introverts listen carefully, we may also be seen as approachable (in stark contrast to that “aloof” stereotype). We may be more likely to implement feedback and suggestions from others, which leads to better results in the long run. Need that work memo elaborated on? You can count on us. 

In leadership and management roles, too, we tend to be more collaborative than competitive, procuring data and resources from a wide range of sources and giving credit to those who deserve it. Most of all, we are our own harshest critics and often perfectionists — giving it our all when it comes to causes we care about — making us a force to be reckoned with.

Introverts Are Independent Thinkers and Groundbreakers

“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.” –Albert Einstein

Many introverts are innovators who love working alone; doing so allows our thoughts to flow freely and without distraction. This preference may be misperceived by others, and they may think we don’t like people (which is not the case; we just like them on our own time, after our introvert battery has been recharged). Working alone gives introverts a considerable advantage when it comes to achieving our goals. 

To be innovative, one must be capable of independent thinking, which is the introvert’s forte. Many goals are better achieved via an individual (rather than a group) setting. Often, solving an obscure or complicated problem requires a degree of focus that can only be achieved in solitude, a place where introverts are able not only to survive, but thrive. We often take the time to understand an idea before moving on to a new one, exhausting all possibilities. In a group setting, on the other hand, it’s harder for us to get a word in (and we certainly don’t want to be part of the group presentation).

Indeed, most introverts shy away from the spotlight, preferring to make solid, measurable contributions instead of clamoring to be noticed by everyone in the room. We are confident that the quality of our work speaks for itself. 

Yet despite this natural tendency to remain on the sidelines (and often be perceived as wallflowers), at times it’s vital to showcase our strengths and call attention to ourselves. Self-motivation, resolve, and a penchant for thoroughness and accuracy make introverts more inclined to achieve even the highest of ambitions, and we deserve recognition for our accomplishments, regardless of how uncomfortable we are at receiving praise. 

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Due to Introverts’ Fortitude and Passion, They Make Powerful Leaders

“You don’t need to be loud to have great ideas.” –Susan Cain, author of Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Extroversion is glorified in American society, but ironically, some of the world’s most successful leaders identify as introverts, including Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffet, as well as presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Jimmy Carter

Qualities contributing to the remarkable success of these trailblazers include patience, humility, fortitude, passion, commitment, and courage. The ability to handle uncertainty with objectivity, their analytical prowess, and allowing themselves the time required to arrive at well-informed conclusions are unique advantages that set introverts apart as leaders.   

While extroverted leaders are typically outspoken people-pleasers who exude confidence and aren’t afraid to make decisions for their team, quiet leadership looks different. But “different” isn’t bad — introverts are just as effective when it comes to achieving results, if not more so. Research shows introverted leaders are more likely to build deeper connections, stay focused, and prioritize quality in their work instead of quick results. 

True, we may not have a knack for public speaking — and most of us couldn’t care less about being the center of attention — but our thoughtful, reflective approach to problem-solving makes introverts an enormous asset in leadership roles. When we do speak, you can bet what we have to say is important, insightful, and intentional: You’d be wise to listen up.

The next time you engage with one of us, notice the power of an introvert’s silence. It might take time for us to open up, but trust me, we have opinions, and they’re usually strong ones. As we don’t like to brag or call attention to our accomplishments, we often go unnoticed, but it would be short-sighted to discount us. The biggest “threat” is the one you don’t see coming — like that introvert who keeps to themselves.

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I’m a seeker, a mother, a nature lover, and an empath. I believe we are all intricately connected in ways beyond what we are even capable of understanding; we are one. I earned a journalism degree from Rutgers University, and I write in order to share my own unique human experience.