Developer Book club: The Introvert Advantage

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Next up in “developer book club” theme is The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. Not necessary something that will be relevant for all developers but it has helped me understand myself both personally and professionally so thought I would include it.

 

There have been certain personality traits that I just thought was me being strange or anti social. Until this book was recommended by a few friends, also developers, and has really helped me seeing that these personality traits are #1 quite common and #2 something to accept, not try to overcome or hide.

 

Anyone who reads this who knows me will say “but you aren’t that shy”, “you are quite talkative once you get to know someone” and this is how the book begins. Explaining that introversion isn’t shyness, it controls how we get our energy. Introverts get our energy from within meaning that unlike extroverts it can’t be replenished by spending time in busy, exciting places. For me, this makes total sense. I have always struggled to explain the tiredness after a new, overwhelming social or work experience. It’s not just tired, it’s proper exhaustion! This is often followed by a hangover like state the next day. I have now learned when to leave and also that taking time to recharge afterwards is ok.

Now that my role takes more of the “people” side of things than just coding: mentoring, client workshops, etc I have learned the importance of listening to my body when tired. Often at the end of a busy week of working my favourite activity is going to the cinema. Sitting in a dark room, not talking to anyone, drinking tea is my perfection!

 

Early on in the book there is a test of where on the scale of introversion you are, simple true false questions. To be honest I expected to be somewhere in the middle as I probably still had the “shyness” definition in my head. I was quite shocked to find I was very much towards the higher end of the scale. Some of the things on the list I didn’t even realise where traits on an introvert, I just thought it was me being a bit weird: my irrational hatred of certain noises for example. Another being my need to understand in depth details of why and how things happen “Many introverts don't feel as if they know enough about a subject until they know almost everything”, although I think this helps in my profession where details are everything. Maybe where the “advantage” part of the title comes in!

 

The book gives examples of introversion in different scenarios: workplace, social and even for parents and then goes on to give tips for handling those. Some of the examples can be a bit patronising if I am honest but I really liked the fact based parts of the book- scientific explanations of why introvert brains work different from extroverts.

 

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who feels they struggle with the anxiety that can sometimes come with introversion. Not because it’s something to fix, but to understand. If we understand how and why we behave a certain way we can learn to balance our energy and perhaps even use it to our advantage!