I was interested in hearing Susan speak since I read her book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I looked to Susan’s book for insights for raising my highly introverted son in a vibrant and noisy community. And, I got some ideas to modify my parenting style to meet the needs of my son.
Back to the cost of being quiet, Susan’s talk at the conference was more focused on the implications to employers. She led us through our evolution from a culture of character to a culture of personality, which has contributed to the further silencing of introverts.
From Susan’s point of view, here are some of the implications for employers:
- Employers are losing talent and vision because our culture overvalues extroverts –and, technology has provided another mechanism to amplify the voice of extroverts.
- Introverts are not being groomed for leadership roles and are frequently passed over – although some of history’s most transformative leaders were introverts.
- Introverts are perceived as passive – however, they are acutely paying attention.
- All creativity doesn’t come from teamwork and brainstorming. To generate creativity and innovation, we need to consider the importance of introspection and solitude in our always on, hyper-connected world.
There’s a place for everyone. As Susan pointed out, we need both the bold and quiet thinkers working together and they need their own domains. By acknowledging how they work differently, we will raise our awareness and change the perception of introverts in the workplace. Here are some differences Susan pointed out:
- Experience meetings differently. Extroverts see introverts as aloof; introverts want to think before they speak. Advice to introverts – push yourself to speak early in a meeting.
- Handle conflict differently. You need to work through style differences and not expect introverts and extroverts to match styles.
- Express enthusiasm differently. See #2.
When I read a book, attend a conference, or research a topic, I simplify the content and experience and if valuable, identify one action item. I like to be realistic! Based on Susan’s research and insights, here’s my one action item – I am seeking out the opinions and perspective of introverts. I like to broaden my perspective on issues and typically seek out the opinion of others. But, I usually reach to the extroverts and now I am starting to be more diligent about engaging the quiet thinkers. I have already uncovered some great perspectives. It’s true – Silence is Golden.
If you are interested in this topic, check out Cain’s TED Talk video. It reached over 1M views faster than any other TED talk. With over 5.5M views total, she must have something of importance to say. You might get some ideas on how to change your relationship with a manager, co-worker, associate or better yet your child.