Tag Archives: extrovert

A Passionate Introvert Speaks Up

Dr. Brian Little’s TedX Talk, Confessions of a Passionate Introvert is great fun and highly relatable. Dr. Little was profiled in Susan Cain’s book Quiet. He also made a few points that resonated with me and a few that I question.

1) Many people don’t believe he is an Introvert. I constantly am told this from Introverted leaders.  This is all because they act “as if” they are confident and expressive. Dr. Little calls it acting “out of character.” Introverts tell me that playing an outgoing role is required in most organizations and so they play the part.

2) Extroverts and Introverts respond to optimal levels of arousal. This has to do with the Neocortex in the brain. E’s often are depleted when there is not enough going on. I’s on the other hand are happy when the stimulation is low.  I learned in my research that there is even a term called “bathroom solitude. ” Introverts will escape to bathrooms as a respite from all the noise they encounter. My introverted husband Bill visibly winces when he is quietly cooking dinner and I enter the room with talk, turned on light switches and music:)

3) Extroverts get personal more quickly. They move close in conversations and get familiar faster. “Charles” becomes “Charlie” in that first meeting. Introverts on the other hand, take their time in getting to know you and “Charles” remains “Charles” until given permission to use a nickname like “Charlie.” I also often encounter Introverts who wonder why Extroverts move into their physical space. Extroverts are frustrated trying to connect with Introverts through eye contact and light touching as they make their points.

4)  Introverts are less direct than Extroverts. He cites the example of his colleague who wasted no time in describing someone as an “___hole” whereas Dr. Little beat around the bush in describing this person. I don’t agree with his view on this difference. I know plenty of Introverts who get to their blunt point quickly! I suspect there are other personality factors at play here.

5) Introverts have less sex than Extroverts. He shows a chart that indicates that both male and female Extroverts have more sex than Introverts. While this is intriguing I wonder about his research. Like most sex research, it was most likely self-reported and we know about the questionable reliability of that data!  Perhaps the Extroverts exaggerated their numbers? Dr. Little did mention that in addition to quantity we need to consider quality.  I will have to ask my friend Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way and the upcoming book Introverts In Love  about her opinion on this one.

I give Dr. Little points for his stance as a “Passionate Introvert”. This “Passionate Extrovert” is glad we can bring humor into the discussion of our differences. The Comedian Victor Borge was right when he said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

After Childbirth, Is Anything Possible?


My daughter recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It was a long labor and stressful delivery but thankfully all came out well in the end. She said it was the hardest but most incredible thing she ever accomplished.

Her experience brought me back to the birth of my own two daughters. Though being a new mom was challenging I can still feel the euphoria and kickass confidence that made me feel I could do anything.

On that same theme, I received an email from Charlotte, an introverted new mom in the Netherlands who told me how her own birth experience bridged to more confidence in the workplace. She wrote:

“Our group was split for many years between the sales team (typically extroverted individuals) and my team (more introverted) who do the actual compliance work. Very recently the two teams have merged. It is really interesting watching it unfold. Since I have had kids I find myself far more inclined to speak up and be braver in our meetings. Perhaps once you have been through child birth and exposed yourself to complete strangers and not caring because you are in so much pain, speaking up in a meeting does not seem so bad!!!”

It is all about perspective. Surviving those tough experiences does build confidence. In the 4 P’s Process in The Introverted Leader the third P is Push. Every successful introverted leader moves through challenges and develops their leadership strengths. They all say this is what helped them the most as their leadership careers progressed.

So maybe it wasn’t childbirth for you; but was there a pivotal life experience that was your confidence tipping point? You can email me at jennifer@jenniferkahnweiler.com or tweet me at jennkahnweiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busting up the mythology

I am pleased that the door to introversion has swung wide open. Yet despite the rise of the introverts many misconceptions linger.  Some writers like  Margarita Tartakovsky, an eager Psychcentral.com Associate Editor are intent on clearing up some misconceptions about I’s and E’ and I was happy to oblige.

This week she wrote a nice piece called 7 Persistent Myths about Introverts and Extroverts and in between discussing hot tea remedies for a sore throat (which I had but not from discussing this topic) and Florida State (we both went there) we took on exploding some myths. For instance:

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Do Introverts Need to Act Like Extroverts to Be Happy?

The Wall Street Journal article How an Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like an Extrovert  hit the digital airwaves this Tuesday and two days later there are over a 110 comments and lots of buzz.

I do appreciate a controversial piece on introverts.  While some of the points about Dopamine and integrating more outgoing behaviors make sense I take issue with the basic premise that introverts need to act more “Type A” to be happy. Haven’t we asked them to do that enough? It is often the extrovert’s projection of what happiness means that lays a trip on introverts.

After interviews with hundreds of introverts I have found they make highly effective influencers when, instead of trying to act like extroverts they use their natural strengths to make a difference. These six strengths include taking quiet time, preparation, engaged listening, focused conversations, writing and a thoughtful use of social media. When they leverage these powers in the workplace they are not only more effective but also more satisfied.

One more note: several of the studies cited here have very small samples and may have little widespread relevance.

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Overcoming Performance Anxiety for Introverts

David, a manager at a global publishing company was kind enough to write me and share the approach he took to overcoming his performance anxiety.  He wrote: ” I am considered an introvert and I am transitioning to a leadership role,” he said.

“……The ironic thing for me is that my position requires a lot of public speaking, training and facilitating in meetings. I will say that it can be very draining, and very often I will withdraw from the public for hours or the rest of the day after long meetings or training sessions. I dine alone or take two-hour naps to recharge.

The public speaking aspects, as well as the internal and external customer interactions that I am “forced” to do, are not so problematic for me now because I  a musician, and have for much of my life focused on solo piano. There is nothing quite as nerve-racking as walking up to the stage to expose your every weakness, physical and mental, before an audience who is all too familiar with the repertoire. You think you will make a mistake, then you do, and everybody knows when it happened. It often looms larger in the performer’s mind than it does with the audience, and so it eats away at you. The small mistakes can make you that much more nervous during your next performance. “

Here is how David said he overcome that challenge: “One of the things I tried to do was to put more focus on the energy or the spirit of the performance, to focus on the performance itself and not the technical aspects of the piece. In this way, someone might say, “oh, it’s a shame you didn’t nail such-and-such a section”; however, they cannot take away from the energy or the emotion of the performance. This makes a performance satisfying to both audience and performer.”

And he continued, ” Besides all that, it makes public speaking a breeze! I always go into a meeting or a training room with the idea that talking is easier than playing Liszt. I have placed my mindset in advance so I can methodically make presentations and “improvise” as necessary. This way, public speaking becomes like playing and I am never nervous.”

David’s parting words? “My advice for people with public speaking fears is to go out and take some piano lessons, with the goal of performing a piece in a group recital after a year or so. These things are typically arranged by studio teachers and are great for inviting family and friends. Not only does one benefit from learning a new language, but one also benefits from the trial-by-fire performance of a Mozart trifle, missing some notes, then moving on with life and getting better.”

Thank you, David. Let’s see if anyone takes you up on your suggestion. Playing an instrument also helps your brain cells multiply so it sounds like a good suggestion all around.


Reactions to the introvert as great blue heron

At a recent book signing, Sheri, an introverted training manager, told me she holds onto an image from nature to comfort her when she feels overpowered by extroverted team members.

As a proud introvert, Sheri relates to the great blue heron. This bird will stalk prey slowly and deliberately. They are solitary or small-group foragers. While the geese are loudly squawking, or doing what geese do, she thinks about the blue heron and it gives her a sense of peace.

I mentioned this in my recent newsletter and received some interesting reactions. Here is sampling:

From Bob Cady: ” Read your newsletter and enjoyed your jottings. Keep it up. The Blue Heron story reminds me that each of us believes in the stories that feature US. Isn’t it the truth. The eagle is shaking its head about that slow old bird. No wonder he’s so thin. Doesn’t eat much…the ‘tortoise and the hare’ is supposed to be a fable about sticking to it and relentless pursuit of goals. The Intros love the tortoise. We are supposed to reject the hare because it is reckless and thoughtless. However, each has its good and bad points, as we all do. That Blue Heron…..is just doing its thing. The extroverted, fast acting eagle also has a nature….The Heron is not, after all  the symbol of our country. In most of the stories you read, the character that is the quiet, introverted, slow, low voiced speaker when the President needs someone to solve the world crisis, is the one chosen to lead the exercise….”

From Kathy Greider: “Thanks for the great blue story — made me think about when I worked in an office. I always surrounded myself with as much nature as possible (plants, sea shells, round beach stones and lots of photos)  when I was upset I would find myself rubbing the shells and stones to calm down.  It always worked — and still does….Thanks for sharing this — maybe it will help others.”

Women – we have come a long way!

Early in the 1960s, a freelance writer from New York, traveling to Boston to interview a psychologist for a book she was working on, stopped by the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and ordered a drink at the bar. “We do not serve women,” the bartender said, and whisked her off to a little lounge off the women’s restroom, where he brought her the whiskey sour. It was a moment Betty Friedan recalled with humiliation decades later, long after she helped spark a movement that made sure nobody ever got consigned to that lounge again.

Excerpted from When Everything Changed by Gail Collins. Copyright 2009 by Gail Collins. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publishe.

At my SWE workshop on The Introverted Leader today, it occured to me how far we have come. These bright women  (all introverts) are building rockets and designing battleships. They are also managing people and projects that require a combination of technical prowess and humanity. I am in awe -because from their 20’s through their 50’s, they still face challenges every day in mostly male dominated workplaces.  We practiced strategies to be more visible, to network, to speak up and to share our successes.

I feel privileged to help them in this journey towards being powerful leaders – and to be part of this sea change of women taking hold of their power.