It’s not easy being an introvert. It’s not easy being a journalist. So it stands to reason that being both at once is no walk in the park – especially when interacting with others and appearing ultra-confident is a central part of the job.
Lots of introverted journalists worry about freezing up when asking questions in interviews and find the prospect of spending an afternoon mingling at a press conference or networking event unspeakably overwhelming. Introverts are energised by spending time alone – that’s not to say that we don’t like socialising, but we can focus and relax more when there’s no one else around. Which means that instead of sitting in a crowded office all day, us introverted journalists would much rather work at our kitchen table with a family-sized bag of Doritos, getting crumbs all over our keyboards and singing along to the La La Land soundtrack (hey, nobody’s home).
Not exactly the kind of thing you’d put on your CV, is it? It’s easy to think that our more reserved nature means that we can’t apply for the top jobs, that we should let extroverts hog all the limelight in the journalism industry. Well, it’s time to challenge the misconception that extroverts make the best journalists. XCityplus spoke to Sanna Balsari-Palsule, a behavioural scientist with a PhD in psychology from the University of Cambridge, who pointed out some key characteristics us introverts have that mean we can give extroverts a run for their money…
We’re all about the task at hand
If you’re an introvert, you’ll be all too familiar with the feeling of panic when all eyes are on you. But it turns out not craving attention or recognition is good for something, after all – namely, it frees us up to focus on the important stuff.
Dr Balsari-Palsule says: “Research has suggested that one of the biological differences between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts are naturally more motivated towards reward, such as social attention and status. As introverts are less focused on being the centre of attention, they may be less distracted and more focused on the work itself.”
We know how to go it alone
If there’s one thing introverts are good at, it’s enjoying our own company – we love nothing more than an empty flat and a Netflix marathon. But can this be beneficial for journalists at work?
“While research has shown that introverts and extroverts enjoy spending time with others equally as much, a key difference is that introverts seek time alone, while extroverts thrive on the energy from constant social interaction,” she says. “As journalism often requires long periods of working alone on assignments, extroverts may struggle with the lack of interaction, while introverts may excel.”
Time to switch off our phones and settle in for some solitary scribbling, then.
We’re deep, man
It’s a cliché that quieter people are deep thinkers, but it can be true. Dr Balsari-Palsule says: “As introverts enjoy spending longer periods of time alone, they are often reflective and introspective, which can be an asset in deeper, analytical journalistic pieces.” So, next time you need a no-holds-barred think piece, ask an introvert.
Are introverts the model journalists against our extroverted counterparts, then? Not quite, she says. “Introverts, by nature, are more cautious – they prefer to reflect and simmer on their thoughts and ideas before they speak. Introverts are also known to be more risk-averse than extroverts. In high-pressure situations in journalism which require quick-thinking or taking journalistic risks, these qualities may put introverts at a disadvantage compared to their more extroverted colleagues.”
So really, both introverts and extroverts have characteristics that make us great journalists. Because extroverts’ good professional qualities are so immediately obvious, it’s easy for introverts to let them hog the limelight and doubt our own journalistic skills. But next time you’re feeling insecure, remember that we’re the best in the world at working independently, analysing all kinds of subject matter and resisting procrastination. We’ve got this.