Tag Archives: Introverts

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.”

ALA Appreciates Introverts

 

ALA

At the book signing with Librarian Catherine Noble, an attendee at the Quiet Influence presentation.

 

It was a privilege to speak last week at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, NV.  The focus of my talk was on how librarians can address the leadership challenges they face today not by morphing into Extroverts but by drawing from an array of “introvert friendly” tools and approaches.

Prior to the speech I interviewed several leaders who were attending the program. I learned about how maintaining relevancy, shifting to linked data and generational shifts in the workplace are some of the hurdles faced by librarians today. 

Libraries and librarians have had a special place in my heart. My Dad, Alvin Boretz was a screenwriter who grew up in the Depression and books where his lifeblood. The library was his second home and it became mine. Dad led the renovation and transformation of our local library. In an act of seeming reciprocity, the library system returned a gift to him.  In later years, his collection of scripts, notes, letters and research were catalogued at the Film and Theater Archives at the University of Wisconsin . I wrote a blog post about the wonderful librarian who took on the project as well as our visit to that special place.

I will always remember the warm reception and appreciation for introverts shown by the crowd. At the book signing after my talk participants received copies of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide To Making A Difference and Steve Piersanti, CEO of Berrett-Koehler  spoke with a few of the people waiting on line.  One young woman, Jessica Johnson, a masters candidate in Library and Information Science at Emporia State University, shared the sentiment many people expressed.  She said, ” ……I felt that you were talking to me.  I can be myself and don’t have to try to be someone else.”

ALA-slide

 

 

 

Do Your Thinking On The Page

IMG_0825

I have been trying to get to places on time lately and last Saturday  night I was rewarded. Husband Bill and I arrived at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Atlanta Writer’s Club. I ran into my friend Georgia Lee who had been shepherding the guest author Augusten Burroughs around all week for her SCAD’s Ivy Hall Writer’s program.

After Georgia asked if we wanted to meet Augusten,  we found ourselves alone with him.  The conversation was relaxed and low-key. We chatted about having worked as counselors in Amherst, MA, the backdrop for Running With Scissors his brilliant, sometimes rough memoir. Husband Bill had run a room for troubled kids in the regional high school.  Augusten told him they surely would have met had he not dropped out of school.

At one point I asked Augusten what he thought about writers as introverts. He said that he loved to be alone but also enjoyed times like this, a chance to engage with and meet new people. He stressed the need for community.

In his talk to our group, he described his writing process as a very solitary one. “I am on the bed with my two dogs, 8 hours a day, every day” he said. You WRITE.  It is about discipline and “Inspiration is a luxury.”

I was reminded of by what my dad, writer Alvin Boretz always said. “You don’t TALK about writing. You WRITE.”

We took our seats and listened to him patiently respond to questions from the audience, most of which I am sure he has been asked hundreds of times before. Here are a few of his responses and quotes that I was able to capture:

* When writing memoirs don’t worry about people’s feelings.

* He also doesn’t fret about his critics and doesn’t read reviews.

* “Writers are collectors, shoplifters and eavesdroppers.”

*”There is no exploration in what you know.”  When he is stuck he does something totally different  to wake up another side of himself. “Take a pottery class” or “study rocks”, he said.

“Do your thinking on the page”

Three were many more gems that rolled off his tongue and I plan on diving into those books of his I haven’t read yet. Read Magical Thinking and Dry  if you want to get a good taste of his writing.

Thank you Augusten for being as authentic in person as you are on the page.  I am not waiting for inspiration but will follow your lead….. with one exception.  Fred the cat is my companion as I write this piece:)

 

 

Sometimes NOTHING Beats Being Alone

I am reposting this blog entry from last fall. Introverts know that being alone allows for presence and being open to an experience.  Have you taken a walk on the quiet side today?

 

I recently attended the show Harmony, a musical playing at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. I went  to this engaging show about a singing group in pre-WW II Germany alone and had a great date with myself. With no partner occupying the next seat, I had the chance to commune with my thoughts and feelings and check in with my experiences during the production. I felt totally in the moment and fully present with the unfolding love stories, Nazi encroachment and dicey group dynamics.  As I left the theater and transitioned to the outside world I actually found the audience chatter distracting.

I recommend the show to my friend Sean and he LOVED the play. In fact, he texted me about it during intermission and right after he left the theater to compare notes. Sean said that his introverted partner doesn’t like to talk out his reactions and that is frustrating for him. Why?  Because Sean is an extrovert and he needs to express himself and “text it out” to make sense of the experience.

I am sure I would enjoy going to a play with Sean.  It can be wonderfully enriching to connect with others  who can bring new light to the experience. However, there are times that absolutely nothing beats being alone.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to build relationships? Try some serendipity

I was inspired by a discussion I had on HuffPost Live last week. We spoke about how preparation helps when introverts attempt to make friends. It occurred to me that building relationships at work also relates to preparation. In fact, the quiet influencers who have the most fluid and comfortable conversations consciously prepare for these interactions. Here are some examples of how they prepare to build relationships at work.

1)  Set up space and times to talk. Consider how your workspace enhances or discourages conversations. If  you work in a noisy or busy space take a walk with a colleague or move to a private area.  Scope these places out ahead of time. Schedule phone calls or video conferencing so that you are both focused. Continue reading

How Do You Fit In A Group of Talkers?

med_res

My colleague Susan Cain, Author of the blockbuster Quiet  asked me to respond to one of her readers. Here is what Susan wrote: “I received a letter from a reader named “Lily” who describes herself as extremely quiet and shy.  Lily is part of a women’s group called the “Super Women Sisterhood” which is comprised of eight very boisterous, extroverted women.  When Lily attends the meetings she feels invisible and overwhelmed, and she worries that the women feel she is being anti-social or snobby. She wants to feel comfortable with the “Super Women Sisterhood” because she feels it will become a supportive, nurturing environment once they understand her.  She asked me to suggest some strategies or ice breakers to help her connect to the women and help them bond and learn more about each other. Continue reading