Growing up, we’ve all heard about introverts and extroverts. Introverts are reserved and quiet. Extroverts are outgoing and charming. My wife recently insisted I read a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain. It quickly became a New York Times bestseller and after reading the book, I see why. I was fascinated by the book. Susan is a consummate introvert and talks about how introverts are often treated as lesser beings in society and yet some of the greatest minds and advances have come from introverts.
The innkeeping community is a melting pot of personalities, experiences and qualifications.
The question I kept thinking while reading the book was, “Do introverts make good innkeepers?” If you were to compare two equivalent inns, one operated by an introvert and the other by an extrovert, how would they stack up? Would the more outgoing innkeeper trounce the more reserved innkeeper?
In this article I will share some of the core ideas Susan writes about in her book “Quiet” as well as how they might apply to as a whole to the innkeeper community.
We live in an extrovert world
The book Quiet starts by talking about how America’s culture demands us to be likeable, cheerful, fun and positive at all times. This has been happening since the 1930′s. Susan talks about how Dale Carnegie‘s book on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is all about being extroverted. She attends one of Tony Robbins‘ “Unleash The Power Within” seminars and braves the high energy, the loud music and the inspirational speeches on becoming more outgoing. She interviews students at Harvard and notices that introverts are seen in lesser terms than their extroverted peers who aggressively answer every question in class; yet the loudest person often doesn’t have the correct answer.
I remember in high school that the top student was quiet, and yet when the teacher called on him in Chemistry to answer any question, even a college level question, he had the correct answer. He was soft spoken and rarely talked. When he did, I listened.
Introverts are more sensitive
Susan describes a study conducted by Dr. Jerome Kagan, a developmental psychologist, in the late 80s. Kagan tested the sensitivity of infants and found that:
- 20% of the infants were highly reactive. Years later these turned out to be introverts.
- 40% of the infants stayed quiet and placid. Years later these grew up to be the extroverts.
- 40% of the infants fell between the two extremes.
From his study, Kagan proposed that introverts are highly reactive to the five senses and everything around them. From loud sounds to emotions to observing nature, introverts experience everything more intensely. Extroverts are on the other side of the spectrum and need extra stimulation. They are not easily rattled or entertained. That is why they are more outgoing and bold.
From my experience, good innkeepers learn to sense the type of guest that just walked in the door. If the guest is more extroverted, it’s good to chat with them and befriend them. More introverted guests normally stay at an inn for some peace and quiet with someone they love. A warm greeting and “please let me know if you need anything” is all they require.
Some of the Best Are Introverts
Some of the world’s best have been and are introverts. From Albert Einstein to Eleanor Roosevelt to Warren Buffet to Chopin to Charles Darwin to Gandi to Sir Isaac Newton to Rosa Parks, introverts, like extroverts, have helped shape the world we live in.
Some of the best public speakers are introverts. They hide it well and find time for peace and quiet when not impressing and inspiring us.
The book talks to introverts and encourages them to understand how being highly reactive has some strategic upsides. For example, introverts can be risk takers but they normally make more calculated risks which have a higher likelihood of succeeding long term.
Susan also talks about the huge importance of spending quality time with introverted children. If raised with love and care they thrive more than the average child. If neglected, they self-destruct more than the average child.
Do Introverts Make Good Innkeepers?
Absolutely. I’ve worked and befriended hundreds of innkeepers, introverts and extroverts alike. I’ve stayed and experienced how they treat their guests. The innkeeping community is a melting pot of personalities, experiences and qualifications.
Name another industry where in the same city you have inns run by a lawyer, a school teacher and an ex-intelligence officer? It is the uniqueness of each innkeeper that makes their inn and the experience they provide unique and appealing.
If you are an introvert, chances are your guests find your place calming and introspective. You are strategic, detail oriented and sensitive to the needs of your guests.
Do extroverts make good innkeepers? Absolutely. Greeting guests and being an amazing host probably comes very naturally. The social side of being an innkeeper energizes you. You love socializing with your guests and probably have a very loyal group of return guests.
Do introverts attract other introverts to their inns? Do extroverts attract other extroverts to their inns? Or do introverts attract extroverts and vice versa? That would be a fascinating study.
Golden Nuggets From Quiet
This article touches on just a few aspects from Susan Cain’s book “Quiet”. It’s a great book. If this article piqued your interest I’d recommend reading or listening to the book. It had some great ideas and golden nuggets to think about. Some of the golden nuggets that apply to innkeepers are:
1) It’s meaningful to think about which way you lean: introvert, extrovert or somewhere in-between. Do you fall in the 20% introvert, 40% extrovert or 40% in-between?
2) As we are able to identify introverts and extroverts (those on the extremes) we can better help them feel at ease.
3) No matter which side we land on, it’s important to recharge our respective “batteries”. After speaking in public or being highly social, introverts need time to read a good book or go on a solo walk/hike. Extroverts, after a period of being isolated, should carve out time to be around friends and peers.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Please feel free to post any comments and questions.