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Technology Science

Introversion and Solitude Increase Productivity 214

bonch writes "Author Susan Cain argues that modern society's focus on charisma and group brainstorming has harmed creativity and productivity by removing the quiet, creative process. 'Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They're extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They're not joiners by nature.'"
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Introversion and Solitude Increase Productivity

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  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:03PM (#38700948) Homepage

    Being alone doesn't mean I'm more productive -- it could mean I'm spending all day posting on Slashdot.

    • by bgeezus ( 1252178 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:09PM (#38701002)
      On Slashdot, you're never alone.
    • by LandoCalrizzian ( 887264 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:12PM (#38701020)
      I completely agree with this article for the simple fact that I am one of these people. My job requires me to interact with many different types of people on a daily basis. While it has greatly improved my ability to socialize and engage others, I still don't feel like I'm at the top of my game. It's only after everyone leaves work for the day that I can actually put on my headphones and get in the zone but it's so late in the day that I'm usually too tired to stay later or the wife is calling for dinner. TLDR: Spolsky test good. Interaction with people bad.
      • by Dupple ( 1016592 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:27PM (#38701132)
        Turn up early. My hours are 9-6. I turn up at 7.30am and clear out at 5pm. I get so much done in that early quiet time that I still have time to interact usefully with others. No one questions my hours. I've got the job done.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:05PM (#38701458)

          When dealing with people, you feel a need to understand how they think, and you basically change how you think for a little time, doing that hundreds of times for every person that walks into your office can get tiring. Think of how brothers or twins or some very close friends that spend a lot of time in each other's company think very much alike, they might not find each other's company tiring.

        • by cloudmaster ( 10662 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:20PM (#38702458) Homepage Journal

          I stay late because everyone else has already decided to show up early. Morning people think they're "getting more done", but really, they're just annoying the rest of us. :)

        • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:09PM (#38702778) Homepage Journal
          This, exactly this. Staggered working hours are the absolute best thing to ever have been invented :P In all seriousness, I do this as well(though I prefer the other end, coming in later and leaving later). I get so much more done while still being able to meet and discuss with co-workers, clients etc. I really wish more companies would try this, not only are there benefits to productivity, you can reduce traffic, strain on public transport etc. by staggering people's working hours.
      • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:32PM (#38701178)

        And other socially repulsive habits. Your problems interacting with other people will go away.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:50PM (#38701316)

          That is one of the many problems which comes with being an avoidant introvert. During my 4 years of college I had to sit through class, but I was able to keep personal interaction with others at a minimum because of the connectivity of the internet and the fact that I had my own dorm room.

          After graduating, I lasted about a month at my first job, and I had no idea why until I asked a former co-worker for frank answers outside of work. He told me that I smelled bad, particularly in the groin area, and that they all knew that I was a chronic masturbator because I constantly moaned and grunted involuntarily, one time kneading my penis through my pants while talking to a female administrative assistant. They said that I made people uneasy because I was a mincing, squinting, shifty-eyed bum who often looked like he woke up under bridges. My former co-worker added that, whenever I would accidentally drop something, I would bend all the way over facing opposite others in the area rather than kneel down to pick it up like real men do.

          The sad thing is, I just don't care. Thanks to the internet, I can now work from home while simultaneously amusing myself with at least 1 extra monitor dedicated to pornography at all times. I am so desensitized to it all, that I wallow naked and erect in my own food like the popular porn star The Minion (I'll spare you the link, you can search for him yourself).

        • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:08PM (#38702772)

          My booger sculpture garden works well.

    • by Stevecrox ( 962208 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:23PM (#38701094) Journal
      I can understand this, I've always worked in an open plan office. While open plan offices have advantages (greater sense of space, easy to talk to co-workers) the major disadvantage is noise. I have often been forced to put a set of headphones in so I can sit and think about what I'm doing. The worst is when project management decided they need to be inside the project (rather than in a seat on the outside of the group) as you end up with project management discussions happening right by you all day. It can be so noisy that I get headaches and that is obviously not good for productivity.

      As for collaborative group processes, this is ok as long as your in the right environment. I've set around a table with some Software Engineers and thrown around design concepts. People will listen new ideas are created logical arguments are made and something great will come out the other end. Unfortunately most people in the industry seem to be Software Developers they argue for what they know don't really care about design or documentation and in those environments it's much better to have a dictator who listens to arguments and hands out dictates. Basically I think collaboration should be used when appropriate.

      I'm a big fan of scrums they bring a team together help everyone understand what every else is doing. I just like quiet and being able to work for 2 - 3 hours without interruption.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Software Engineers are Software Developers. Don't make such a useless, artificial, "Us vs Them" distinction. If you don't give a damn about the architecture, you're not a very good Software Developer. If you don't have any input into the architecture, and just take orders, then you're a programmer and not a developer.

    • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:24PM (#38701106)
      I can't work for 8 hours straight, so I will take breaks like going on slashdot when I'm alone. Lots of times there's no one around at my work so that's what I do. My lunch breaks are shorter as well, since I usually just eat at my desk for 20 mins and then continue working. But when people are around, I'll socialize with them and the little breaks I have during the day turn into 5-10 mins a pop. Going to lunch with people is even worse, as my 20 min lunch break turns into an hour, sometimes more! Sometimes I wish I were more introverted to get more work done, but then again I realize life isn't all about productivity and gross output.
      • by anubi ( 640541 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @10:45PM (#38702976) Journal
        I have never been able to "keep at" anything continuously for that long. Maybe a couple of hours. Then something will inevitably block me. I end up making things far more complicated than they need be,

        At this point, I realize I am just digging in deeper and deeper, and making a mess.

        By this time, I have fleshed out what has to be done, but the implementation I have so far really stinks.

        That's when I do something else for a while. "Socialization", aka "Bullschitt Session".

        I never married because I was always so addicted to my horsing around with my toys. ( No, I never played much with them, I ended up taking them apart to find out how they worked, and if I learned enough to reassemble it into something else, well that was good.).

        I could never get anything "done" at the office. It was almost like trying to do ALU operations at the I/O port.

        The office is where I do I/O. I find it very hard to be creative at the office. Its difficult to keep a chain of thought intact. I figure out how to do it somewhere else.

        Lately, its been the local pizza parlor. I know the owner, He makes me a special pizza, and I will often sit all afternoon there, enjoying pizza, refining my designs in spiral-bound notebooks ( 10 cents each from Wal-Mart during their back-to-school special ). There is usually no-one there in the middle of the afternoon.

        At home, I have all my computers with everything I need to try out any DSP algorithms, and its easy for me to quickie-prototype some code on an arduino, netburner, or propeller ( Andre LaMothe's "Chameleon", )

        I can't do that kind of stuff at the office. Especially in management-laden businesses. I do this at home, where I have peace and quiet, and no-one cares if I "make a clutter". If I were married, the wife would certainly make me trash it.

        I've been psychologically tested for social skills. I am INTP. Asperger too. So, I am apparently incapable of knowing what I am missing ( wifery, sports, concerts, etc. ). I highly enjoy technical discussions, but it is hard for me to find others who would rather discuss thermodynamics than football.

        You can see where I work best in a small company who is struggling to survive, rather than large companies sailing on inertia. I have little to offer companies who have hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire managers who evaluate me by how well I conform to office politics... as I perform quite poorly at the desk. I run like WIN95 on 4 Meg of ram in an office environment.
  • That all describes me, except for the "spectacularly" verbiage.

  • lol (Score:4, Informative)

    by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:08PM (#38700984) Homepage

    Reality check for all the morons who want to turn their office into a fun house.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:10PM (#38701008)
    My home office is my 'Fortress of Solitude', safe from distraction of the outside world, incubator of ideas, and infused with the essence of coffee. Now if only I could stop checking Slashdot every fifteen minutes I might get some work done.
  • Balance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:13PM (#38701026)

    There has to be a balance between one's teamwork and individual creativity.

    On the one hand, you can have prima donnas running the whole show, doing really great things that have absolutely nothing to do with actually getting a product out the door.

    On the other hand, you can take extreme programming to the extreme, piss of your rock stars, and wind up with them quitting, and get trainwreck product.

    Bottom line is that any team management approach needs to be able to milk everyone for the best they've got without stiffing creativity, or putting the wrong people at the helm for the sake alone of giving them a chance to drive.

    Just some random thoughts as I sit alone blasting out my Saturday code...

    • There has to be a balance between one's teamwork and individual creativity.

      But the optimal balance point differs between different personality types.

    • Re:Balance. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:25PM (#38701630) Homepage

      Well you just committed the ultimate faux pas of the go-go team getters. You must always work as a team, and if you don't, you're not a team player. And as such, you should go find another job.

      Really though, most people with a couple of firing braincells already knew that some people are better specialized to working in groups, and others to solitary tasks. The brain specializes itself to it's situation and needs. Leave it to the idiots of psych to think that if you jam people into a group, that it will always result in the best actions and solutions.

      • Re:Balance. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @09:37AM (#38705196) Homepage Journal

        No matter how team oriented the environments I've worked with have been, no matter how much everyone was encouraged to share design and algorithm ideas at design meetings, one thing has always been true:

        I wrote the code sitting at my desk, alone, either with or without the headphones blaring.

        I know some have tried to do team coding, but I've never seen it in action, and the idea of someone snatching the keyboard to code a few lines would really piss me off.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:14PM (#38701034) Homepage Journal

    I recently finished a couple of years of working remotely from home instead of going into an office. I think it was some of the most productive work I've done. I collaborated with other engineers using Jabber, phone, and NetMeeting when needed but otherwise was able to work without interruption (kids are grown and moved out). Not commuting means I also worked longer hours. Yet my new job requires me to commute and be an Office Space drone. Why?

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:34PM (#38701192)

      I've tried working from home, but I'm much more productive when I'm in office. I live alone, but when I'm not in office I just can't force myself to work as efficiently as in office where I know I have to work or someone will see that I'm procrastinating. Everyone is different, don't assume everyone likes what you like.
      Also if you don't like your job, change it. I'm changing it tomorrow (setting and working conditions will be similiar, but programming will be closer to hardware, better pay will be nice too ;) ).

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:36PM (#38701206)

      Yet my new job requires me to commute and be an Office Space drone. Why?

      Manager Insecurity.

      • Oops! I modded "overrated" when I meant to put "underrated".

        This post will remove my error.

        Mod parent up!

      • That's doubtless the main reason, but when it comes down to it, it takes a lot longer to get anything done at home if you actually know how to work. Lately, I've been working internationally and it takes forever to do a back and forth that would take less than 5 minutes at an office.

        Even locally you're looking at a time multiplier, unless of course you shut off the email and focus on work, and even then it means that if something doesn't come in just before one checks email it can take a while to learn abou

        • So what you're saying is its easier to work at the office because you can get constantly interrupted by someone in person?

          As someone who telecommutes a few days a week, I'm much more productive at home without a) a commute and b) without someone coming to me in person to address something that could've been addressed over the phone or via email.

          It is disingenuous to believe that "being there" makes you more effective. It only increases the possibility of someone interrupting your productive streaks.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:00PM (#38701400) Journal
      Because the perception of value is also important. Most managers have very little idea of how much effort is involved in programming. If you are in a cubicle, then they can see how much of your time is spent doing something that looks like working. If you are at home, then they can only judge you by your results and they are not good at judging the value of your results. One solution is to ensure that junior management is capable of doing your job, so that they know how much time it should take. Another is for the company to simply stop caring about how hard it is and work out how much your output is worth to them and pay you appropriately. This works for me as a freelancer: I often work for people on other continents, so they have no way of checking how long things actually take me. If they pay me for a day's worth of work, then they're happy if the results they get are worth (to them) at least the amount that they paid me. If I actually did the work in 10 minutes in between Slashdot posts then they wouldn't actually care, unless someone else was willing and able to do the same work for them for less.
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Security is one reason, if your work requires it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:17PM (#38701060)

    Our agile internet startup requires communication and collaboration between coworkers. You can't get that if everyone is holed up in their office. Now if you'll excuse me I have to update Pivotal Tracker and our Wiki.

    cell: 212/555-1212
    office: 212-333-4435
    fax: 212/444-4747
    skype: agile_coward
    twitter: @agile_coward
    irc: agile @

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Sounds like time to re-think agile if they want anything done before they burn through the start up funds.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:18PM (#38701072)

    Job offers invariably require applicants to "work well with others" and "enjoy team work". I don't like team work, and I work well with others if I have to, but it's not natural to me.

    Well guess what: at each and every job interview I've been to, I lied and pretended I enjoyed working with others, when in reality I like being left the fuck alone to do a good job. Same thing on my resume: if you believe what I put in it, you'd think I'm a social monster. All the folks I know who are a bit of an introvert like I am similariy bullshit their way through job interviews.

    Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

    • by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:25PM (#38701122)

      Well.... maybe because putting this on your resume doesn't look so good:

      - Capable of refraining from telling co-workers that they're fucking inbred morons who would benefit from a course in remedial keyboarding, and that if they ever check in shit like that again that they'll discover that it is, in fact, possible to insert a 23 inch monitor into an arbitrary orifices.

      • - Capable of refraining from telling co-workers that they're fucking inbred morons who would benefit from a course in remedial keyboarding, and that if they ever check in shit like that again that they'll discover that it is, in fact, possible to insert a 23 inch monitor into an arbitrary orifices.

        The problem wasn't that you put that on your resume. It's that when we checked your references we found out you were demonstrably _not_ capable of so refraining.

        • Not to mention the fact that HR is typically where the first few rounds of screening go and they're precisely the sorts of people that engage in those sorts of behaviors.

      • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:37PM (#38701216)

        You forget another, more glamorous possibility: I would very much enjoy putting "capable of concentrating long and hard on any problem, able to work on my own at a problem until it's fully and properly solved" in my resume. In this day and age, where most people seem to glorify short attention spans and teamwork (which is usually just a way dividing the individual brainpower required to perform a certain task, and diluting responsibility when things go wrong), this would seem like a worthwhile skill to offer to an employer.

        But no, if you don't pretend you like teamwork and you work well with others in your resume, you can be sure it'll be chucked out in the trashcan right off the bat. It's almost automatic, so much so that it's almost impossible to find a resume *without* that line.

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:02PM (#38701434) Journal
          Not to any employer. If you've found a company that actually wants (and is willing to pay for) a proper solution, then I suggest that you do everything that you can to make sure you keep your job there. Most companies want a vaguely good-enough solution right now, and if it's a money sink in two years then, well, it will be someone else's responsibility by then...
          • Indeed, I remember an employer a while back that was willing to pay for the bare minimum solution, then cut it back after a while. Needless to say that was a very frustrating place to work if you had any sort of work ethic whatsoever as you could never actually accomplish anything.

    • Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

      You told two people you're a people person. Then they told two people they were people persons. And so on, and so on, and so on...

    • Otherwise, a couple more years pretending to "enjoy team work" and you'll be up on a water tower with an AW50 taking pot shots at former "team" mates.

    • Well guess what: at each and every job interview I've been to, I lied and pretended I enjoyed working with others, when in reality I like being left the fuck alone to do a good job.

      The obvious questions that come to mind are how many jobs and how many interviews? Is all that BS you've been peddling getting what you need and what you want?

    • by MagikSlinger ( 259969 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:03PM (#38701444) Homepage Journal

      Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

      Because as Marti Olsen [] points out, the majority of people are extroverts, and assume anyone who is not like them is defective. So extroverts love brainstorming, group think and other social work environments, so they think everyone should enjoy it and demand it in others.

      The right answer is, as other people have said on this thread, balance. Sometimes we should work together, but also sometimes we should leave each other the f--- alone.

      But because extroverts tend to be disconnected from facts and experience, they instead remember when they were happiest which was brainstorming sessions or other team activities. Thus they demand it.

      To be fair, that's only about 30% of the hiring managers out there. The other 70% actually want people with political skills. The ability to negotiate with people they disagree with, to get people to go along with an idea, to contribute to the group when required instead of being a lone wolf causing problems or sniping. Introverts make excellent politicians in this regard--usually the Karl Rove backroom operator or chief-of-staff. But it's somehow off-putting to state: "Don't be an obstinate asshole who has to get his way and bullies others to achieve his goals -- yes, that means not you, John Bolton []." on the job posting.

      So just look at "work well with others" and "enjoy team work" to mean you're not a douchebag or a dickhead. It doesn't necessarily mean you are a people person.

      • So extroverts love brainstorming, group think and other social work environments, so they think everyone should enjoy it and demand it in others.

        You're giving them too much credit. First principles - they enjoy listening to themselves talk, and the others are only waiting for their turn to talk. A "circle jerk," if you will.

    • by happyhamster ( 134378 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:18PM (#38701578)

      >> Everybody knows it, head hunters know it, employers know it, so why do they carry on asking those "skills"?

      It's a submission ritual. By asking you a silly question and evaluating your answer, they judge how much you are willing to play by the rules, no matter how ridiculous.

  • by atticus9 ( 1801640 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:20PM (#38701080)
    I work best alone when I'm trying to solve a problem that I'm really passionate about. Sadly a lot of times that doesn't describe what I get paid for, and in those cases having a group around me helps to stay on task. if I'm alone, I'm fighting against myself the whole time to stay focused and not work on what I think is interesting.
    • This. There are many kinds of people. Some will like it this way (like me) or the other way. The best thing is to liv with it and just find your niche/best workplace.

  • On Reason I chose IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:23PM (#38701096)

    One reasons I chose IT was to be able to avoid large groups of people. I have had the unfortunate experience of cube hell like most techies, but all in all, I have had the ability to work alone for much of my almost 15 year IT tenure. I absolutely love working alone.

    One of the reasons I hate group projects is because once I know what needs to be done, I just want to get to work. Other people want to talk and swap ideas. Like a lot of people, I just have a sense of what needs doing and I do it. I want to sink or swim on my own, not sink or swim because of someone else. I don't mind sharing ideas, but I despise "groupthink", "hive mind", whatever you want to call it. God gave me a brain and I know how to use it.

  • by aardquark ( 752735 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:23PM (#38701102)
    in my organization, because meetings are a part of the culture, and in meetings, the loudest voice dominates. Bullys aren't just in the playground, you know. I much prefer electronic collaboration (the article notes that this works better), it provides a level playing field for the soft, introverted voice.
    • So be louder, unless you don't care whether or not you're heard. Meetings at large companies are a good place to practice that, since most of the time no one cares what's being said anyway. :)

  • I work best when not bothered. I don't work in IT, but if I'm doing anything from actual work to tinkering in the garage, I like to be alone. For my personal life, though, I'm definitely a extrovert. I love being out and about with new people, living it up. I'm not shy.

    Too much of either and I'm unhappy.

  • There is a very good reason for our team to generally favor using our internal IM server even to the co-worker sitting next to you. Coding is creative, and an IM is much less interruptive than someone walking over to your desk and demanding your attention right now.

    (Hint: Disable audio notifications.)

    • by bipbop ( 1144919 )
      I work much better if I disable all notifications, and only find out I have an IM when I decide to check them.
  • Public education (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pcwhalen ( 230935 ) <pcwhalen AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:44PM (#38701260) Journal

    Public schools always cater to the lowest common denominator. They are more a tool for socialization than education, readying a workforce for a life of 9 to 5 conformity. I don't recall innovative thought being rewarded in school. Memorization, maybe.

    Thus, the movement for home schooling. []

    Most teachers don't want or have time to teach each child as an individual. It's not their fault. Grading and assessment alone would overwhelm them. Finding the material to challenge each student's ability individually would be impossible with given resources and mindset.

    It is a tribute to our children's tenacity that so many succeed despite the public school system.

    • They are more a tool for socialization than education, readying a workforce for a life of 9 to 5 conformity.

      There is a difference between readying a child for the menial job they're probably going to get, and socialisation, which suggest pushing a child to a menial job, If the schools systematically promised children amazing careers where they would get paid for doing what they loved, and failed to prepare them for what they were likely to get, then I'd say the school system would have a critical hole in it

  • Groupthink (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slasho81 ( 455509 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:44PM (#38701262)

    Social groups deter any kind of radical thought or behavior. That's the groupthink [] phenomenon. The larger the group, the stronger the effect. That's why creativity never thrives in large organizations, and that's the reason the most creative social construct is the single person who does not need to compromise his or her ideas for the harmony of the group.

    I roll my eyes every time I hear an organization of thousands of people is proclaiming it fosters innovation (or diversity, but that's another story []).

  • Good ideas come from brainstorming, but working out HOW to implement those ideas requires quiet thought.

  • Introvert (Score:5, Informative)

    by Avarist ( 2453728 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:46PM (#38701278)
    People need to understand what being Introvert actually means. Being social or easily small-talking doesn't make someone extrovert, and you can't be 'extrovert' for this and that but 'introvert' for these. It just doesn't work that way. Introversion is taking energy in mentally from being alone and being exhausted mentally by exposure to groups for a while. Extroversion is taking energy in from social interactions while being depleted when alone. You wouldn't have to be a genius then to come to Susan Cain's conclusion.
    • Re:Introvert (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Sunday January 15, 2012 @12:08AM (#38703332)

      I would instead say that an introvert defines himself through what he does. An extrovert defines himself through what other people think of what he does. An introvert thus always wants to do the right (as in, rationally correct) thing, because competence increases his self worth. An extrovert does not want to be competent; he merely wants to be thought competent. The easiest way to achieve that is to find some introvert underlings to do the actual work for which he can then take credit, and increase his self worth. Because having people do as they are told makes this easier, he tends to like conformity and obedience. Conversely, he assumes that being conformant and obedient makes others like him, because such behaviour improves their self worth.

      When socializing in a group, extroverts brag to each other about their accomplishments in order to "purchase" the group's higher opinion, and through it a higher self worth. Listening is a valued skill because those who listen politely, increase the braggart's self value.

      When socializing in a group of introverts, introverts exchange information that helps them become more competent. Intelligence is a valued attribute because it helps others raise their own competence, increasing the listener's self value.

      When an introvert is in a group of extroverts, he tries to "help" them by giving out useful information. They don't understand why he does that, since useful information does not increase their self worth. Only positive opinions do that, and the introvert can't offer those because he values real competence, which they don't have. So, after a few minutes of unsucessfully trying to get some mutual back-patting going on, the extroverts move on, making a note never to promote this ungrateful SOB.

      Extroverts try to "help" the introvert by telling him how smart he is, which frustrates him because he does not understand why they consider this information valuable enough to communicate. After a few hours of trying to find something valuable in the extroverts' small talk, he is stressed out from the intense concentration because he thinks he's not competent enough to find it, which then decreases his self worth. At that point the poor guy has to relax for a while or go insane.

      For this reason, socialization can only work on homogenous groups, and hiring an introvert into an extrovert environment really messes things up for everybody.

  • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:47PM (#38701292) Homepage

    Multiple studies, at least within the context of software development, seem to be in conflict: []

    • I might see that working for certain types of teams.

      But in general, I see imposing that on high end devs as a sure fire way to get them to walk right out the door.

      • PS: This article is from 2000. Interesting that in 12 years, this "war room" style programming never caught on. And while agile has (an approach of which I am a supporter), the paired/extreme programming approach for all tasks has not in general caught on so much.

        Some things are done well by group - major design decisions and such, were input from multiple sources is critical (though, it is necessary that folks do their homework before their groups). Others, like figuring out convoluted logic - not so

        • by tshak ( 173364 )

          I wouldn't discount research based on the research date. If the research is accurate there's no reason that time would be a factor, unless better studies were conducted and drew a different conclusion. If you're interested, do some research on the topic and you'll find that many companies from startups to major corporations utilize some form of open work spaces.

    • No conflict. If you put people together in a dedicated space with little distraction, everyone's focus on the goal tends to make you retain the same focus. On the other hand, if you dole out tasks and tell everyone to go do things the best way they can, many programmers will go sit heads-down and crank out code.

      In the middle, where you have to get along with your team and brainstorm and plan and meet, that's pretty much the definition of not writing code.

      Conversations like "Hey did you see the game last n

    • I think I score strong on the introvert personality scale, but I also score on the open scale quite strong, meaning that I quickly distracted by thing going around me (the Internet mostly). I often find work boring, because it does not mix with my own interests, thinking about problems that I find interesting. My interest change quickly. I guess this is also related to me being an introvert, that I often find it interesting to think about all those little puzzles that go through my mind and that I would lik
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:51PM (#38701320)

    My job about a year ago switched from full height cubes to 1/3rd height cubes where even when sitting you can see everybody and everything. The thought was that it would increase group thinking and productivity as you would be able to communicate with more people in a "group" setting while still being at your own work station.

    In reality noise went up greatly, productivity went down greatly and communication consist of mindless jabber and gossip. It's fun for about half an hour until you realise that you have deadlines and metrics to meet. No I need to put on a good pair of isolating headphone just to get the same amount of productivity as I was able to before with "trips to others cubes"

  • by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @06:59PM (#38701392)

    Having developed many projects, I personally can attest that I don't get anything productive done until everybody is asleep or if I decide to tune everybody out. It seems like there are too many real and "potential" distractions that my mind is chewing on instead of coming up with solutions to problems.

    I have found it helpful to come together as a group once I have had plenty of time to think about what I want to do, along with the others having that same opportunity. That way we can have a discussion about ideas that have been thought through instead of just winging it.

  • How can you tell an introverted software developer from an extroverted one?

    When an introverted programmer talks to you, he stares at his shoes.
    When an extroverted programmer talks to you, he stares as your shoes.

  • by ExecutorElassus ( 1202245 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:31PM (#38701674)
    There's a lovely article written by epistemological philosopher Susan Haack (who was teaching philosophy at the University of Miami at print time) titled "Preposterism and its Consequences." The book is "Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate." Her central argument is this: philosophy is a contemplative discipline, and as such sometimes requires years of effort to be spent pursuing a line of investigation - usually in solitude - that may turn out fruitless. But the present culture of frequent publication - that any professor seeking tenure or stature must demonstrate a frequent presence in scholarly journals, at conferences, &c. &c. - forces academics into a sort of busywork that completely disrupts any real progress they might make.

    It's the same idea here: "productivity" shall be measured by the degree to which an individual exchanges information with other individuals, without anybody questioning whether that information is actually useful or productive. In contrast, look at the guy who solved Fermat's Theorem: from what I remember, he spent a couple decades hiding in his attic, everybody thinking he'd flamed out and turned into a recluse.

    I'm also in a creative field (music), and the only way I can get anything useful done is to work from 23:00 to 04:00. The consequence of keeping those hours is that I'm mostly useless during business hours, so I'm a bit of a recluse in my department. I wish people like that (me), who need time away from, you know, people, would have their work ethic viewed more favorably, instead of it being an eccentric social shortcoming.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:24PM (#38702036) Homepage

      It's the same idea here: "productivity" shall be measured by the degree to which an individual exchanges information with other individuals, without anybody questioning whether that information is actually useful or productive. In contrast, look at the guy who solved Fermat's Theorem: from what I remember, he spent a couple decades hiding in his attic, everybody thinking he'd flamed out and turned into a recluse.

      Andrew Wiles is his name, and he "only" spent 7 years on it. But indeed pretty much as an obsessive compulsive recluse. It's still amazing how such an easy theorem can require such an extrordinarily complex solution.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @07:32PM (#38701684) Journal

    claimed that he liked working at the patent office as the quiet allowed him to think.

    • And yet now at the patent office they pair you up with an office-mate, who if you are unlucky could be the sort of person who automatically asks stupid questions before looking it up, and at the very least will also be making phone calls and such while you are trying to concentrate.

      Then they are just shocked that most people's productivity absolutely skyrockets when they can work from home or get a private office at GS-13.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:15PM (#38701958) Homepage

    "Brainstorming" is just a way for managers to claim part ownership of creative ideas other people already had before going into the "Brainstorming" session.

    It's one of those "nobody-left-behind" ideas where everybody gets to give input while the actual creative people have to listen to all the bullshit going on.
    I've had to listen in on hour-long brainstorming sessions where everybody gets to spew their ideas without interruption, only to have some guy at the end (they always have the guy who actually knows what he's talking about at the end) explain their "solutions" weren't actually addressing the question at hand. The only things they seem to do is let everybody claim ownership in the idea the one smart guy already head before going into the room, simply because they were in the same meeting where he first announced it.

    Anybody who thinks creativity can come from formal meetings has obviously never had a creative idea in their entire life.

    • You forgot the risk allocation part of the brainstorming session: the manager can measure risk factors of all suggestions and choose a sacrificial offering(s) in case of unavoidable failure. This bolsters the managers power for both success and failure.
  • by Cronock ( 1709244 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @08:56PM (#38702282)
    Management will always disapprove of solitude and independent employees because they can't take credit for the work completed and justify making higher salaries than those who actually spawn the good ideas and do great work.
  • Ringelmann Effect (Score:5, Informative)

    by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @09:27PM (#38702494)

    This is not new, it has been discovered in 1913, by a french agricultural engineer Maximilien Ringelmann. []

    Various groups of people had to pull ropes, and Ringelmann discovered that people unconsciously reduced their effort when they were in a group, even when everybody except one in the group faked the rope-pulling !

    The two biggest problems of collaborative work are:
    1) communicating takes time, and you cannot work during this time
    2) people provide less effort when they work collaboratively
    Of course, there are a lot of advantages !

    This is also related to social loafing []
    and it has interesting challenges, like raising funds for Wikipedia.

    About creativity, I think that innovation is not a solitary activity.
    You need to interact to get ideas, and the more you learn about diverse subjects, the more you can be creative. This is why people like Leonardo da Vinci were able to invent so much: they had a large knowledge across a lot of domains. Nowadays, it's difficult to have such a broad knowledge, because we need to concentrate on a few domains. This is why group brainstorming is efficient: people with different views and approaches work on a common problem by sharing their knowledge.

    What hurts creativity the most is not group brainstorming, it's the fact that people don't want to challenge themselves. This is called mental fixedness. Now, everybody concentrates on improving current ideas, not challenging them or creating new ones. New ideas emerge only when you are unsatisfied with the current ideas.

    On a personal note, I was an introvert 3 years ago, and I was a very good coder. Since 3 years, I'm now an extrovert, and even though my social skills increased tremendously, I don't enjoy coding anymore. I still enjoy solitary activities, like writing for my blog, but I'm not interested into pure logic anymore.
    I believe that logic and introversion are related. I consider myself as a creative guy, and my creativity which was used for writing code is now used on social interactions.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday January 14, 2012 @11:35PM (#38703214)

    Look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs []. People who are overly gregarious are attempting to fulfill a need for friendship/belonging to a group. The highest performers are probably up at building self esteem or self-actualization. Its not that they still don't need friends. But those needs are probably largely satisfied elsewhere. And the key to self esteem and self actualization is 'self'. Hence the need to work independently.

    Conversely, the worst performers are probably down at the bottom of the hierarchy. If your employees are worrying about keeping their houses or feeding their family, they aren't performing as well on the job.

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