by Leonard Pitts
It's not just a women's issue.
Granted, that's how many of us are framing last month's decision by
But there's another reason we should be debating Mayer's policy: some people simply work better alone.
My colleagues are rolling their eyes now, so let me rush to provide full disclosure. I've worked mainly from home for more than 20 years, going into the office just enough that they don't give my desk away. I don't do it because it's more convenient. I don't do it because I hate the commute. I do it because I'm an introvert.
The word is not a synonym for "shy," though as a boy, I was that, too. But where shyness is an outsized fear of other people's disapproval or of social embarrassment, to be an introvert is to be inward turning, more at home in small, intimate groups than large, boisterous ones. It is to prefer the quiet to the loud, reflection to exhortation, solitude to socializing.
For years, I struggled with that, wondered why I prefer the rainy afternoon spent watching old movies or reading a book to the sunny afternoon at a backyard barbecue watching people do the electric slide. Then, last year, I chanced upon a book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by
Except that our culture is biased toward extroverts. It's a bias reflected both in Mayer's decision and in the attagirls she has received from the likes of
For some of us, it probably does. But not for all. The savvy CEO will understand this, will realize that the alone space is where introverts find the stuff that powers their best work and will -- wherever practical -- accommodate that.
And, as Cain points out, quiet people, left to their own devices, have produced rather significant moments in culture, science and politics. Her list of their contributions includes: the theory of relativity; "1984," "
All that said, I have a sinking fear that after this column, I'll never be invited to another backyard barbecue again. Good friends, please invite me; I'll even bring the banana pudding. But at the same time, please forgive me if I leave early.
As Cain notes, it is not that the introvert doesn't enjoy the company of others. Rather, it's that after a certain point, it leaves him feeling physically drained. That's who I am -- less
This week, I'll go into the office to make sure my desk is still there. I'll kibitz with my friends. But when it's time to get down to work I'll slip on the noise-canceling headphones, block out the world and seek what people like me always, instinctively seek: a quiet and alone inner space where it is possible to simply, finally...