Re: Tech Writer - Introvert or Extrovert ?

Subject: Re: Tech Writer - Introvert or Extrovert ?
From: Mark Whiting <mwhiting -at- AU1 -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 03:02:43 -0500

In Myers Briggs terms, my understanding is that introverts are energised from
within, and extroverts gain their energy from external sources (ie other
people). It doesn't necessarily correlate to a person's outgoing nature. I
have known many gregarious people who are introverts. People have the
characteristics of each within them, and they exercise the appropriate
characteristic depending on the setting. So, a natural introvert can 'train'
themselves to exhibit their extrovert qualities at work, or in social
settings. You would be suprised how many outgoing people, who can hold a group
of people, are in fact introverts. I think many people see introvert as
negative and therefore have to strive to be extrovert for social acceptance

In a recent workshop of technical writers, we did an MBTI and only about 10% of
the writers were extrovert in the Myers Briggs sense. The introverts were all
highly effective writers.

I attended a lecture by well known sales presenter Tom Hopkins. I'm sure many
of you have heard him speak, and I'm sure he's extrovert. In the presentation
I attended, he said introverts make excellent sales people. Why? Because they
listen. They listen to the message of their customer, and are therefore able
to address the customer's needs, rather than try and sell the customer
something they don't want. A mistake that some extroverts may make, is to
assume a more dominant role in conversation, and perhaps not really listen to
the message of a customer.

Therefore, I think many successful writers are either introverts, or
successfully use the introvert quality that enables them to listen and
understand their information sources, and write it well. I don't think anyone
could be a tech writer who didn't have good listening skills. But yes, you
certainly need to be comfortable with people and be assertive enough to get
them to give you information as well.


Mark Whiting
Information Design and Development
IBM Global Services Australia
Telephone +61 2 9354 7435
INET mwhiting -at- au1 -dot- ibm -dot- com

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