The Power to Change One’s Personality — Introverts and Extraverts – a speech by Geoff Peters

Geoff Peters speech to Club 59 Toastmasters
Vancouver BC Canada
April 2nd 2012

Manual and Speech #: Competent Communicator Project #7, Research Your Topic
Title: Can I change my personality?

Recently, Geoff’s manager asked him to do a personality test. But having been an introvert most of his life, Geoff wonders if it is possible to become more extraverted, in effect changing his personality type. Toastmasters has been a great way for Geoff to gain more extroverted skills. Geoff will examine the current research on personality types and whether a person can change their own personality type through training or goal seeking.


The Power to Change One’s Personality — Introverts and Extraverts — by Geoff Peters

“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible,” Picasso
1. What is introversion / extraversion?
Definition of introversion: Susan Whitbourne, Ph.D

– how easy to get to know?
– comfortable around other people who you don’t know well?
– seek out social situations?
– Like being by themselves and involving themselves in quiet contemplation?
– likely to express yourself and see that your needs are met (assertiveness)?
– activity level
– Excitement Seeking / Risk taking: Extroverts are more likely than introverts to get into car accidents, participate in extreme sports and to place large financial bets.
– Expressing Positive Emotion

Shyness? Author Susan Cain: Shyness and introversion are not the same. Shy people fear negative judgment whereas introverts simply prefer less stimulation. Shyness = painful (social anxiety disorder / phobia), introversion not painful.
Simple definition: Introverts: prefer minimally stimulating environments, comfortable working alone.
Extraverts: prefer very stimulating environments
Spectrum: Introversion on one side, extraversion on other side. 50% of people fall on each side.

2. Maybe Being Introverted is Good? Creativity and Invention

Our society rewards extroverts. But maybe this comes at a cost.

Susan Cain: people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption “Person sitting quietly under a tree in the backyard, while everyone else is clinking glasses on the patio, is more likely to have an apple land on his head.” (Isaac Newton)

– Groupthink – people in groups: sit back and let others do work. instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own. also: peer pressure.

Electronic brainstorming, large groups outperform individuals; and the larger the group the better.
– Marcel Proust called reading: a “miracle of communication in the midst of solitude,” Internet = a place where we can be alone together

3. Can someone change their personality?

Personality is immutable after the age of 30? In 2005: A study conducted on almost 2000 people ages 20 to 96 over a 15-year period challenged the idea. (Terracciano, et al. Psychology and Aging)

Over life, changes in personality occurred:
excitement-seeking declined
Assertiveness increased up to about age 70
Activity level declined from age 30 onward
Gregariousness, warmth, and positive emotions were relatively stable.

Facets of introversion naturally modulate over time.

You can take active steps to change your levels of introversion on one or more of these facets
Toastmasters — a way to gain Extroverted skills. Learn to ignore your fears of social situations.


My Goal: be extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic
Power of collaboration Steve Wozniak toiled alone on a beloved invention. Steve Jobs had supernatural magnetism.
Life is meaningless without love, trust and friendship.

Humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy.
Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in. We have the power to change.

Thanks to Steve C. for recording me!


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