Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Power of Quiet

"When I tell people I identify as an introvert, they say, “How are you able to give speeches in front of 600 people and still consider yourself an introvert?” Introverts, I say, know how to “bring it,” or at least can learn when we have to. But it has a cost. Learning how to embrace your “inner extrovert” when you need to is necessary."
 Michael Stephens at Library Journal writes about the challenges and opportunities for introverts in the library world (hint: there are lots of us) in The Power of Quiet, on his blog Office Hours.

I am often times grateful for my office, which is tucked away in a staff area, far from the Maddening Crowds of students. An older office that I occupied for several years was directly off of a student casual seating area of the library, so I would often look out my door (it felt too stuffy to keep the door closed) and see a student watching me with curious interest. It was disconcerting to say the least. Among my memorable interactions with students in that office was:
  • The student who walked into my office, and then asked if she could use my microwave to reheat her coffee. I was discussing an issue with my supervisor, who was sitting right next to me, at the time. I let the student use the microwave. 
  • The student who got all the way into my office before realizing that this was not an available study room. My name plate on the wall and all my stuff posted on the door did not seem to register to him that the room was occupado
  • The string of students who wandered back and forth outside my door while talking loudly on their cell phones. 
By comparison, my new office is much less subject to interruptions. I do get phone calls from student workers, asking me to tackle a reference question that they're unsure about, and that's fine. Sometimes I cringe when the phone rings, if I feel like I can't handle talking to anyone; but I've got my "inner extrovert", or my professional face to get me through a tiring encounter. 



I don't claim to never need interaction; I really enjoy talking with our student workers, and learning about where they've come from and where they want to go. Maybe that's why they call me with the hard questions. However, I'm usually the one who initiates and ends the conversation, and I prefer to talk with students one on one. At staff meetings, whether student workers are involved or not, I tend to sit quietly and let people come and join me if they choose. If they do, thanks for enduring the meeting with me. If not, I'll be all right just the same.



What's your preference, in the thick of it, or towards the edge?



photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/60141638@N06/8512104420">Hello My Name Is Introvert</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>

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