Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You're probably more right than I know (a tribute to quiet people)

(It's late to just be starting a blog post, but I get to watch the kids tomorrow while Anne-Marie is at her radiation appointment.  That means I can stay up late.  Right?  Right?)

I've been given the gift of being married to a very quiet and reserved person.

You know what's great about being quiet and reserved?

Nothing.  Because people try to change you all the time.

You know it's true, because you're either the shy person that people have tried to change or the assertive-type that tries to change people.  I'm not just talking about people trying to change opinions.  I'm talking about people trying to change other people's temperament, personality and core being.

The reason I know so much about it is because I'm a guy that used to do it.  Now I know it's *obvious* that Anne-Marie isn't quite the masterpiece that I am, but I figured that it couldn't hurt to help her attain at least a semblance of my grandeur.  So I worked.  And I pressured.  I cajoled.  I guilted.  And did I change her?

No.  I didn't.  My influence over the years has--I guess you could say--"brought her out of her shell" a little, but the base layer of her very being has remained.  She's an introvert.

Here's the most amazing revelation that I've learned about humanity in general through my 11-plus years of experience in this matter: as a general rule, quiet people are correct just as often as loud people.

(Half of my readers are saying, "Of course!"  The other half is enraged.  Good.  Got you right where I want you.)

You see, the mistake I made was thinking that extroverts were confident in their opinions because they were correct.  The truth is that confident people are confident in their opinions because they're confident by nature.

It's true that the opinons of introverted people are not taken as seriously and their advice is not followed nearly as often, but that mostly has to do with the perception of the listener.  (Plus, the fact that they don't cram it down your throat.)  And perception is key.  For the sake of the other half of humanity I'm trying to change mine.

Now when I'm in a meeting, I want to hear what the guy that never says anything is really thinking.  It may not be what I want to hear, but usually I find that he holds a perspective that I've been completely missing.  Of course, getting him to speak up without forcing him into the Type A bubble is a little difficult, but I'm working on my discretion in this regard.

I say all of this to spread a little encouragement to my introverted readers.  If you're shy, timid, coy or self-effacing, I have a lot of respect for you and I want to hear what you have to say.  The world belongs to the outgoing, or at least that's what they keep telling you.  I believe that you'll try to keep the weak points of your temperament in check from causing harm or doing evil.  I will try the same with the ambivert temperament God has given me. And I'm guessing your job will probably be easier than mine.

How many times have I seen a shy person changed by an outgoing person?  Zero.  The only person that changed these past 11 years was me.  Now I know the truth: I've been given the gift of being married to a very quiet and reserved person.

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