Tag Archives: the introverted leader

Being An Introvert

 

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Thankfully the veil of confusion and ignorance over introversion is slowly lifting. More people realize that being an introvert does not mean you are a wallflower, misfit or anti-social geek. They realize that introverts have many strengths and draw on their vibrant internal energy. The explosion of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a plethora of press attention on introversion and the popularity of Susan Cain’s book Quiet and others have all contributed to this welcome shift.

Between 2009, the publication date of my first book, The Introverted Leader and 2013 when Quiet Influence came out I have tracked this openness to learning about the topic of how Introverts can thrive and how we can get the best out of them in the workplace.  As an example, here are some comments I received after a program I delivered last week at Freddie Mac where introversion is being embraced and seen as another key element of valuing differences:

“ I didn’t realize I really am more introverted and need to honor my time for solitude.”

 

“I learned a lot about my sister and her potential to become a great leader. I also learned more about the introverted part of myself. “

 

“ I am going to swing by my boss’ office today and give him his needed face time.”

 

“I reached out to a colleague by phone rather than email, I really needed him to hear my voice.”

 

How much do you know about introversion? Take this quiz to test your knowledge about how being an introvert and using the strengths of quiet influence can make a real difference in getting results.

 

 

Listen and then do something

Blogger and Skillsoft leader Shawn Hunter has a background as interesting as it gets. As a former ranch hand and teacher in Korea he brings a quirky wit and counterintuitive view to each of his interviews. I had the pleasure of participating in one of Skillsoft’s leadership conversations that Shawn hosted from his barn in Maine. As his dog Penny slept on the couch we talked about how quiet influencers shine. (I tried not to think about the 450 listeners on the line so that I could follow Shawn’s provocative questions:)). Give a listen and let us know what you think.

Shawn wrote a piece about the overuse of listening that I think you might enjoy. I believe that any strength overused does become a weakness and he highlights the points in QI about how too much listening can be a barrier in making a difference.

 

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“What books would you bring on introvert island?”

imagesI have met some wonderful colleagues like Beth Buelow  coach and author who is bringing the introvert message to light. She proved to a be terrific interviewer in a recent podcast and used the quiet strength of preparation to make that happen.

My favorite Beth question? “What 3 books would you bring on introvert island and why?” What is making you smile inside today was another(great introvert question by the way)

Curious what your answers would be:)

Acting “As If” – The Introvert’s Key to Success in Public Speaking

Explanation of  Quiz answer #2 “How Well Do You Know Introverts” Quiz.

#2. Introverts are typically not good at public speaking. FALSE

Being introverted does not mean you can’t also be a phenomenal speaker. Introverts often use their natural strength of preparation to sound smooth and clear in their message. And just like an actor that goes into character they often perform brilliantly in their roles. In fact, a large majority of actors and comedians are actually introverted in temperament. They rehearse and then step into character.

Making a presentation to two or twenty people is the way to educate, inform and influence others. Introverts know this is an important vehicle for imparting their message and gaining visibility in their organization. They agree with  Warren Buffet, who said that “public speaking can be our greatest asset or our worst liability.”

Often they will act “as if” they are confident, suave and sure of their message. Paul, an IT consultant I interviewed for The Introverted Leader shared that he imagined himself as James Bond when making presentations.  He even wore the right sunglasses and clothes to get himself into the role.

What are other techniques introverts use to excel at successful public speaking? They use visualization where they imagine a successful speech before it occurs. Others push themselves to speak up in meetings, to their boss and even on the grocery store line. They also pump themselves up by replacing negative self-talk with positive statements.

And after the presentation? A welcome retreat to solitude usually does the trick.

Focused Conversation vs. Small Talk

I promised to explain the answers to the “How Well Do You Know Introverts” Quiz. Here is #1.

“Introverts prefer focused conversation to small talk.”

A focused conversation is not the same as the chit chat that can drive you up the wall and out the door. Instead, these are dialogues with a specific point in which you combine listening and purposeful talking. Focused conversation helps you to truly share your ideas with others and learn about what they believe and feel.

Small talk is usually about more superficial topics and, while it may be a way to segway to more meaningful conversation, introverts don’t see the point. Small talk also takes place in bursts with several people (think cocktail parties). The kind of conversations introverts prefer are  one-on-one or in small groups.

Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell Soup Company said that “the action is in the interaction.” I agree. It is in these meaningful back and forths that we build relationships and influence others.

Before the memories fade -travels in SE Asia

Did you know that …

… when crossing the street, you just keep on walking, even though there are hundreds of moving motorbikes?

 

… speakers are often treated like rock stars in parts of Asia?

 

… a fruit called Durian smells like “sheet”?

 

… that most city people go back to the country to visit their family on the weekends, returning with gifts of food?

 

Don’t worry, I didn’t either.

 

That is the great thing about traveling to places as different as Singapore and Vietnam. My world widened in ways I never could have imagined and I am still digesting the experience. You simply can’t beat the steep learning curve of traveling.

 

There were some hurdles. Traveling so far away isn’t easy ─ the oppressive heat, the jet lag and the immersion in strange tonalities that make saying thank you (“Com on”) nearly impossible. Yet, I wouldn’t have traded this golden opportunity for anything.

Husband Bill and I planned a vacation around my speeches on The Introverted Leader. First stop was the HR Summit, the largest HR conference in SE Asia where a receptive crowd showed up. On to Hanoi, Vietnam where the American Center at the U.S. Embassy and Thai Books (The Vietnamese publisher of my book) played co-hosts.

We arrived early on a Saturday morning and leaders from many fields and industries ended up filling the 300 + seats. There is a growing, university educated generation in this fast growing country. These hard working, emerging leaders continually strive to develop themselves. For instance, my interpreter has two technology businesses and a company that translates talks for foreign diplomats and executives.

Before the memories fade,  I want to share some impressions and lessons I learned along the way:

  • A Singaporean working mom shares how stressed out her young children are from working so hard at school.
  • Our Saigon guide instructs Bill (in graphic detail) how to take a live duck and prepare it for a special dinner feast. Still waiting for that duck, Bill!
  • A restaurant manager in the city of Hue reveals how his wife’s career advancement as a teacher was blocked when she married him. Why? Because of a difference in their religions.
  • Photos and videos are a universal language. Glad I updated mine.
  • It is a myth that Asians don’t laugh. Most humor does cross continents. Being authentic works.
  • Using local references helps to build credibility with an audience.
  • Slowing down your speech is appreciated by those who don’t speak English as their native language.

Check out our photos on Facebook.

 

How Do Introverts View “Twitter Friendly” Speeches?

One of my current research findings about introverts is that they use social media with a purpose, taking the time to think about what and how they post information. Alan Stevens, in The Media Coach (text below) makes the case for tweeting before, during and after a speech. Hootsuite and some of the posting tools can be used to implement these ideas and capitalize on the introvert’s propensity for preparation.  I am curious about how introverts view these suggestions, however. I wonder if it is too much unnecessary noise for you introverts who give presentations? Or…. do these ideas work for you?

 This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in “The MediaCoach”, his free weekly ezine, available at www.mediacoach.co.uk.

 

MAKE YOUR SPEECH TWITTER-FRIENDLY

It’s taken a while for speakers to get used to that fact that audience members are going to be using their smartphones to tweet their on-stage messages to the outside world. There is still a dwindling minority of presenters who believe that their content is for the exclusive consumption of the people in the room. In fact, that was never the case. Speeches with great messages are talked about by audiences when they leave the room. That’s a hallmark of a great speech.

I expect that you already use Twitter as a medium for feedback and questions during an event. You may also be using tools that will summarise and auto-tweet your slides as you show them (ask me for recommendations of if you don’t use such services already). Here are a few more ideas:

1) Encourage interaction with people outside the room. Send a tweet yourself just before you speak, asking for views on the topic you’re speaking on. Mention the hashtag of the event, and at suitable points in your speech, check the responses. If you’re feeling brave, put them on the big screen. I advise checking them on your smartphone first, though.

2) Include some sound bites, reinforced by graphics, that summarise the key messages of your speech. Spread them out through your delivery, maybe five minutes apart. I guarantee that any active tweeters in the audience will use them. Keep them to 80 characters or less so that your name and the venue can be included in the tweet.

3) Mention, both out loud and in a tweet, that you will be online for an hour or two after your speech to continue the debate on Twitter. The opportunity to debate issues with the speaker themselves will create a lot of buzz.