Welcome To The Reign Of Introverts

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woman working from home

For as long as I can remember, and seemingly for all of human history, being an extrovert was better. They sweet-talked their way into promotions, relationships, and in and out of trouble. They made rooms erupt with laughter and shared beers with their bosses and coworkers.

Being “better” at a job was no sure way to get promoted. The job/girl/house/best slice of pie went to the loudest and most charming.

A World No Longer Ruled by the Loudest

But we are in the midst of a tectonic shift.

  • High-paying careers favor those with the stomach for deep, solitary work.
  • In-person schmoozing has taken a backseat to an online workday where the ability to self-motivate matters most.
  • Crafting a witty one-liner on apps determines your dating success — not the ability to pick someone up at a bar.

RELATED: Which Zodiac Signs Are Shy Vs. Extroverted, Ranked

Through technology, the world has been reshaped to benefit introverts. Expect the balance of wealth and power to shift accordingly.

Top-Paying Careers Benefit the Quiet

Look to the world’s richest men (sigh, they are all men). The Jordan Belforts and Bill Clintons have been replaced by Mark Zuckerbergs and Jeff Bezoses. Quiet nerds are now revered as the next generation of powerful and wealthy. Why? Because they, most likely, will be.

Many of the highest-paid jobs require solitary work, focus, and technical skills — all of which are easier for introverts. Medical school necessitates prolonged solitary study. Engineering and software development require analytical work and a love of problem-solving. Simultaneously, lucrative, extrovert-favoring careers such as financial advisors and lawyers are on the way out thanks to automation and new inventions like blockchain.

Counter Argument: Ambiverts Are the Perfect Mix

On a smaller scale, the ability to shmooze and remain positive may continue to boost extroverts come promotion time, a study suggests. Though technical know-how and self-motivation are more necessary for modern-day success, bonding with your boss, coworkers, and shareholders is still paramount.

Tech Companies Take Over

The stock market is also increasingly dominated by information technology companies — often helmed by technically-minded, introverted founders.

In 2020, old-guard companies such as Ford, Clorox, Southwest Airlines, ViacomCBS, and Nordstrom dropped off the S&P 500, while the index added Tesla, Etsy, and three information-technology companies.

The board rooms that matter most are those dominated by introverts.

Counter-Argument: Companies Still Need Extroverts for Promotion

While many of the world’s richest people are considered introverts, many can credit their successes to their ability to advocate for themselves and their companies — extrovert characteristics. Some of the most successful introverts — Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet — have arguably mastered extrovert skills or employ extroverts to their benefit.

“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 […]. Then, if you come up with something, if you want to hire people, get them excited, build a company around that idea, you better learn what extroverts do, you better hire some extroverts […].”

- Bill Gates

Elon Musk is considered an introvert, though doesn’t shy away from publicity stunts, ranging from SEC-attention catching tweets to SNL appearances. Bill Gates has advocated for hiring extroverts to sell your products and build teams.

White-Collar Life Goes Home

Even in technical careers, shmoozing bosses and inspiring positivity among your coworkers helps you climb the food chain. But what happens when there is no office?

The short answer is, we don’t know. We are only a year into the work-from-home experiment, which means that there is little research on how promotions and recognition will shift.

But we do know one thing about work from home: Introverts are a lot happier about it.

Extroverts — those who experience positive emotions from stimuli in an office setting — were in for a surprise in March 2020 when the majority of white-collar office jobs implemented work from home. Gone were the opportunities for impromptu socializing, building office friendships, and benefiting from external hubbub both during commutes and chats at the water cooler.

When you work remotely, your actual “work” is more visible than ever. And introverts are more likely to thrive.

Not only will introverts enjoy working from home more than extroverts, but being away from a loud office may boost productivity.

Of course, working remotely during a pandemic with spouses and children at home can be a recipe for disaster for introverts, too. As people disperse from city centers into the suburbs and permanent work-from-home employees acquire more remote work-friendly spaces, introverts will get the upper hand.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Exude Confidence When You're Introverted AF

Counter-Argument: Clear Communication Is Still Necessary

Communication is still paramount, just different.

Some research suggests that Zoom meetings may actually be more draining than in-person meetings, which could pose additional challenges for introverts.

Additionally, Slacking consistently, clearly, and constructively with your coworkers is an art form in itself — perhaps easier for those who enjoy talking more. The higher up the ladder you climb, the more important communication becomes. Good leaders still need to engage in team-building at remote-first companies. This may continue to give extroverts and ambiverts the upper hand.

Fun Fact: Research suggests that women experience worse Zoom fatigue than men, perhaps because of its effects on self-esteem.

Dating Goes Virtual

High-paying jobs favor those who enjoy solitary problem-solving and study. The home is now the workplace, leaving fewer opportunities for networking and extrovert mood-boosting social time. The final nail in the coffin for extroverts is online dating.

Approximately 40% of people met their partners online before COVID-19.

In 1990, 20% of people met their partner at work. By 2020, this percentage had fallen to 11%, according to research conducted at Stanford University. With the rise of remote work, this figure will continue to decline.

Though online dating still requires communication, the new rules of dating have shifted power dynamics: Dating apps benefit those who text witty one-liners from their homes rather than those prone to brazenly approaching potential partners in bars or offices.

Some dating apps, notably Bumble, also put more power in women’s courts with the ‘women message first’ rule.

Counter-Argument: IRL Matters Most

Online dating only stays online for so long. At some point, virtual dates go in-person, and you will be expecting witty in-person conversations, not just texts. However, the virtual beginnings of relationships may make courtship easier for introverts. 

You start with the knowledge that the other person wants to be on a date with you. Online dating can give you a chance to share who you are and get comfortable with someone else. You also don’t have to compete in person for someone’s attention or make advances without any idea whether they’ll be interested. Not getting a message back is easier to take than an in-person rejection.

Advantage: Introverts

Like most important trends, from the loneliness epidemic to the growth of ill-fated cities like Phoenix, the rise of introverts happened slowly — then all at once. Technology will have a momentous impact on who holds power.

For much of human history, extroverts have dominated business and society bolstered by introverts’ work behind the scenes. But now, thanks to new careers, modes of work, and dating rules, introverts have the upper hand.

Judging by the world’s richest people and fastest-growing companies, it looks like extroverts will be working for introverts. Better yet, the societal ideal, in business and romance, will be the perfect mix of the two.

RELATED: 11 Personality Traits That Make It Way Harder For Introverts To Find Love

Burgess Powell is a writer and growth hacker based in New York. Burgess explores topics including technology, mental health, marketing, and climate change. She is a fervent believer in the written word, the internet’s power to change anything and everything, and small businesses. Strong opinions, loosely held. Her work appears on MediumHouseFM, High Times, Your Tango, Blocklr, and many more.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.