Listen to the silent

by Tom Albrighton 16 October 2018 Freelancing

‘It’s getting worse,’ I tell myself.

Not my knees or my hearing, though they’re certainly going downhill. I’m talking about my introversion.

Truth is, I’m a pretty hardcore introvert. My public speaking is lamentable. I’m abysmal at in-person networking. I’m not even that great at attending social get-togethers, let alone arranging them. Left to my own devices, I’ll just escape into a game, TV show or book instead.

But why do I think of introversion as some sort of chronic health condition? Or, worse, a moral failing? Why can’t it be a strength?

Illustration by Alan Aldridge for The Beatles’ ‘There’s a Place’, 1969

These days, we love our words loud and fast. Something happens, and we rush to the opinion formers. What do they think? What should I think? Tell me what’s going on!

Meanwhile, I’m taking hours, if not days, to form my opinion. But maybe it tastes better for being stewed a while, like whisky maturing in the oak cask of my brain. Maybe it’s better to think before you speak or act. If you need to speak or act at all.

Next time you want an answer, wait two days and ask the quietest person in the room. What you hear might be tentative or unconfident. It might even be uninspiring. But you never know, it might also be right.

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