Thursday 6th February, 2014
4:00pm to 4:00pm
Behind every successful design engagement is a well-rounded dynamic team. However, the culture and expectations of design agencies are largely built around the outspoken, gregarious personality. Furthermore, as agencies and companies have become more and more global, it’s likely you’ll only encounter more emphasis on extroverted styles of working, no matter where you live. Group brainstorming, on-the-fly presentations, and open workspaces have become the norm in design settings. For many of us, encountering personality types with more intensity than a high school debate team has become a daily challenge, so how can we all be successful while still staying true to our naturally-effective styles of working and communicating?
When people think of “creatives,” the stereotype is often that of a very outspoken, extroverted, no-holds-barred personality. But we suspected that a lot of people who excel at, and are passionate about design – specifically UX design – are actually more quiet and introverted.
As fellow introverted UX designers ourselves, we were excited see a more recent emphasis on introversion coming to light as strengths rather than flaws. We were delighted to see TED talks, New York Times articles and a few lauded books all focused on introversion being heartily discussed and embraced in the media. Even better, we were learning that a good balance of extroverted and introverted strengths can elevate great ideas and teams alike.
The fact that there were at least two UX designers who resonated with all of this had to mean that there were other introverted designers out there. So, we set out to discover just how many designers tend to be more on the introverted spectrum, and also uncover what makes them successful, what makes them tick, and how they use their introverted qualities to round out their teams and create great designs and experiences.
We poured over findings from surveying more than 100 people about the topic, as well as 6 one-on-one interviews, a group discussion with 20 UX designers and a handful of anecdotes from some of our introverted colleagues and friends.
We heard deeply personal stories about lessons learned when going against natural tendencies and pretending to be a gregarious and spontaneous conversationalist, and inspirational stories about how displaying quiet confidence can be effective when dealing with powerfully strong voices in a large meeting.
Whether the idea of introversion speaks to you, or you more readily identify with more extroverted qualities, everyone can benefit from tapping into their quiet side and encouraging others to do the same. It’s our hope that our findings inspire others in similar positions as ourselves, and to inform all of us on the introvert/extrovert spectrum of the amazing differences in strengths we all possess that, when combined, make up super teams of professionals.
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