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Playing the piano helped this introverted leader

Playing the piano helped this introvert

David, a manager at a global publishing company was kind enough to write me and share the approach he took to overcome 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.

How to hire introverts

Don’t overlook introverts in your hiring

In a recent lawsuit against Harvard, the NY Times reported that a group of Asian-American students claim that Asian students were rated lower than those from other groups. The traits that were cited as being ranked lower were having a “positive personality,” likeability, courage, kindness and being widely respected.

The concerns these students have about being excluded because of their temperament remind me of another group that experiences rejection because of their personality type: introverts.

An article in the Washington Post by Jonathon Zimmerman, a professor of education and history at The University of Pennsylvania connected the possible bias against Asian-American students to the discrimination introverts face in universities. “Cross-cultural studies have demonstrated that people in the East tend to emphasize traits such as humility and hard work, while Americans more often favor cheerfulness and enthusiasm.” He says, (and I agree), that he wishes universities were friendly to diverse personalities, “not just diverse races.”

I am not involved in college admissions, however, I study the world of work, and excluding people from job opportunities is a common concern of introverts I work with.

How many people have been denied entry to a company because they didn’t fit the company ideal of an outgoing, expressive person?  Being a go-getter, initiating conversation and having high energy are all extroverted traits and job candidates can be marked down if they don’t exhibit these traits. It is important that our organizations pull from a variety of personality traits.

Here are the steps I outlined in The Introverted Leader; Building On Your Quiet Strength to make sure you are giving introverts a fair chance and ensure that you are setting the stage for introverted candidates and extroverted potentials to show you who they really are:

In the recruiting stage:

Make sure you are not overlooking introverts when casting your net. In internal hiring, that can happen because introverts have not been out there selling themselves. Sallie, an introverted recruiting manager who participates in promotion and hiring, is aware of the bias that often exists when less visible and vocal candidates are discussed. She makes a point of researching potential team members who are qualified but have not been especially vocal. “Being an introvert myself, I am especially sensitive to this situation. I see my role as an introvert advocate in hiring discussions.”

In the interviewing stage:

  1. Prep the room: Avoid blazing lights and noisy areas. Putting a desk between you and the candidate interferes with rapport, but sitting too close can be off-putting for introverts, who value personal space. Try sitting kitty-corner—it creates the right amount of intimacy. If it’s a group interview, seat the candidate at the middle of the table rather than at its head so they feel less scrutinized and can make eye contact with everyone.
  2. Check your bias: If you’re an introvert, you most likely will be comfortable with a slower pace, pauses, and the possible self-effacing stance of an introverted interviewee. But check yourself for confirmation bias—seeking answers that support your case and minimizing other important responses. Be clear about the skills and traits you need for the position. Consider how comfortable you feel with a person who mirrors your style, and try to diversify your pool of candidates by being open to everyone.
  3. Schedule adequate time: If you schedule yourself too tightly between interviews, you’ll likely feel pressured and impatient if the person doesn’t talk quickly enough. Introverted candidates are likely to pause before answering questions, and they may not fight for conversational space. The time before and after the interview will allow you to write notes, reflect on impressions, and jot down questions.
  4. Try these phrases: Prepare strategies to control interviews, especially with extroverted applicants. Become comfortable with gentle interruptions. For example, you might say, “That’s great, I have a few more questions I want to get in…” Or when trying to keep things moving, you can introduce your questions with “Can you briefly tell me…” or “In a couple of sentences…”
  5. Use paraphrasing: Reflecting back what you heard gives candidates a chance to modify or validate what they said. Introverts and extroverts will appreciate the chance to clarify their thoughts more completely.

We can never totally eliminate our bias but we can take tangible steps to face it head-on and create a workforce that represents all personalities.

Introverts and Extroverts: Let’s Have Conversations Worth Having

Conversations Worth Having For Introverts

The other night I was at a business reception and found myself sitting next to two people I didn’t know well. After about 15 minutes, I realized that we had been having quite a satisfying and provocative conversation. I felt like my brain had been challenged by new perspectives.

Meaningful, stimulating conversations like these have been on my mind lately, ever since reading the terrific new book, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement by Jackie Stavros and Cheri Torres.  The authors are good friends who used their own conversations as colleagues and their combined years of field research as the basis for their important message.

They write that great conversations are rich, deep and allow for the creation of new images and metaphors. They can change how people think. These interactions are uplifting and energizing, positive and productive. Conversations can be critical and destructive, or they can be generative and productive.

Research for my book The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together, revealed that when opposites “Bring On The Battles” or face disagreement head on, they report stronger results than when they avoid conflict.  I like the idea of adding a positive spin to these “battles”. For instance, asking the question, “What is the problem, complaint or thing you don’t want?” followed by  “What is the positive opposite, the thing you want ?” and  “…….What is the desired outcome?” give us helpful ways to reframe the dialogue.

Both Introverts and extroverts can connect and move their partnerships forward by adding questions like these to their interactions. Introverts, with their propensity for one-on-one explorations and depth in their connections, will appreciate the framework that allows them to go even deeper. Extroverts, with their natural connection to people,  enthusiasm and ease in asking questions can use this framework to keep the dialogue moving forward in a positive direction.   Both parties benefit.

And there are more reasons for having these conversations. Listen to what Cheri Torres told blogger and leadership expert  Skip Prichard when he asked about why conversations don’t get enough attention in business.

“Conversations are such an integral part of functioning in the community that we take them for granted. Until recently, there was nothing drawing our attention to their importance. Research in the field of neurophysiology, however, is showing that conversations are integral to our capacity to access the executive center of our brain, the pre-frontal cortex, where higher order thinking, creativity, trust, good decision making, and the ability to connect are possible. Conversations that trigger fear or uncertainly stimulate the release of cortisol, epinephrine, and testosterone, shutting down access to the pre-frontal cortex and stimulating fight, flight, freeze, or appease. A good conversation has the power to shift the brain from a threat to safety, simulating a whole different set of hormones—oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These hormones help us reconnect, open up to what others have to say, and rekindle trust. Further research in positive psychology corresponds, showing that positivity in the workplace builds resiliency, high performance, innovation, and collaboration. Organizations that have taken this research to heart and have shifted leadership and management practices are discovering the amazing power of a great conversation – a conversation worth having.”

I also want to refer you to another wonderful book on this topic written by Maren Showkeir and the late Jamie Showkeir called Authentic Conversations: Moving from Manipulation to Truth and Commitment.    The book “demonstrates how we can move to honest and authentic interactions: adult conversations that create increased commitment, true accountability, and improved business performance. They offer examples of parent-child and adult-adult workplace conversations in a variety of settings and provide a hands-on guide, including sample scripts, for dealing with a host of potentially difficult conversations.”

So let’s get off our phones and have an authentic conversation. How is that for an idea worth having?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Ways Introverted Leaders Communicate With Impact

Introverted leaders calmly elicit opposing views.I often ask participants in my workshops and speeches to think about their favorite manager. When describing this person, the characteristics reflect introvert strengths. As an author studying introversion, this is no surprise to me. The most effective leaders are not prone to project their ideas onto the team but listen first to what ideas emerge. The best leaders, also engage with people and are truly present with them, gaining their trust and respect

Here are six ways introverted leaders communicate with impact to become those favorite managers.

1.Have Spontaneous Conversations

In a time when everyone is looking down at their smartphones, spontaneous conversations are becoming less frequent. But when you engage with people, you can learn so much and reap benefits you would never have imagined. For instance, during a flight, I sat next to a man who works as a ticketing manager for a theater in Atlanta, Georgia, my hometown. We chatted about acts we had seen there, and he told me he oversaw ticket sales. Several months later, I watched my favorite dance company perform, thanks to my new friend’s generous gift of house seats. Random conversations can lead to tangible results, and you will inevitably learn something.

Beth, a self-described introvert wrote me after she heard me talk about spontaneous conversations. “Vegas (where the convention was held) was a hard town to be in as an introvert,” she said.  “That night, as I hailed a cab, I was overly tired and just wanted to get to the hotel and away from the crush of people…. The cabbie started talking with me, something I generally avoid. But I thought about practicing engaged listening and decided I would try it. It turns out, we had an amazing conversation about the educational system in Nevada. Beth was grateful she took the time to listen and learn from this man.

  1. Read Facial Expressions

Research has shown that introverts tend to communicate apprehension more than extroverts. According to several studies, people with communication apprehension can be perceived as more distant, submissive, and indifferent to the people they speak to. This can inadvertently become a disadvantage for introverts in everyday communication and lead to misinterpretation by others. To overcome this, introverts tune in to recognize miscommunication, They use video conferences over audio conference because they can read facial expressions, which gives them clues into how others are thinking. Voice alone is not as revealing to them.

Introverted leaders working with culturally diverse groups also benefit from their tuning into facial expressions. If they see a person smiling and think they are not happy, they can probe or observe to better understand what is really going on.

 

  1. Use Calm Focus and Grounded Energy

Assets that serve introverts well in times of change and uncertainty are a calm focus and grounded energy, which help people stay centered. We look to leaders for reassurance and direction. Introverted leaders find ways to be more visible, so people can feed off their calming energy. After a recent emotionally charged national election, introverted Julia organized a group of people with diverse political viewpoints. The goal was to learn from each other and decide how to move forward in a time marked by deep divisions.

Julia stepped out of her comfort zone to enroll friends and neighbors in helping her set up the group, which grew from 6 people to 100 in four months. After the group grew organically, she pulled back on her time. Julia saw that her push toward visibility as an “out there” leader served a good cause in the start-up mode. And as a self-aware introverted leader, she wanted to honor her need to recharge and step back from the external pulls on her time. Several others in the group have stepped up to help continue the calm, open dialogue that Julia established.

Dr. Gene Griessman, the author of The Achievement Factors, responds calmly to proposals he disagrees with by saying, “That is an intriguing idea. Could you tell me what you think the strength and weaknesses of those strategies are?” Griessman poses the question, “Would you mind if I give you another point of view?” As an introverted leader, your calm demeanor and reasoned questions like these will help to set the tone for a civil conversation.

 

  1. Use Assertive Approaches

Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors. As a young engineer, she confronted an assembly worker who directed a wolf whistle in her direction. “What are you doing?” she asked. He was trying to attract her attention, he told her. She requested that in the future he do that by saying “Hi.” This simple yet assertive statement resulted in more respectful greetings from him, and according to Barra, the catcalls from other men in the plant diminished. Being an introvert, as Mary Barra is, shouldn’t limit your ability to assert yourself.

Assertiveness is often incorrectly confused with aggressiveness, but assertiveness is characterized by mutual respect and clear, open, and honest communication. Aggressive behavior, on the other hand, is disrespectful and shuts people down. Introverts show us that you don’t have to “raise your volume to have a voice,” as author Susan Cain wrote on the cover of Quiet Influence.

For my book, The Genius of Opposites, I studied pairs of workplace introverts and extroverts. My research showed that the introverts’ steady, intentional persistence often made the difference in their success. On one sales team, introverted Brian stood in the back of the room, quietly checking in with prospects and responding to their questions. His louder, extroverted teammate, Audrey, made an exuberant pitch from the stage. Brian was assertive by following up with his key target customers for months and, in some cases, years. He closed most of the deals through his persistence and follow-through.

Referring to his low-key role in the popular duo Hall & Oates, introvert Daryl Hall acknowledged his brand of assertiveness and the important role he plays by saying, “You can’t have a sunset without the horizon.”

There are countless opportunities to speak up for yourself. Introverts such as GM’s Barra have pushed themselves and developed their skills in this area by practicing and pushing themselves to speak up. It is not always easy. Figure out when it is important to set boundaries and find ways to express yourself that are respectful, yet firm.

  1. They encourage others to speak up

They advocate for employees. Melinda Gates, a co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, makes a point of speaking up in support of female colleagues “when a man restates something that a woman already said or talks over her at a meeting.” And she calls herself out when she falls into that behavior herself.

They also support introverts on your team when they don’t feel comfortable asserting themselves. Bill Stainton, a professional speaker, and Emmy Award–winner was chairing a professional board. He tells the story of failing to ask Lucy, an introverted board member, more about her background and skills. After she finished her board term, he discovered Lucy had a goldmine of expertise in an area that would have been helpful in growing their organization had he known. Bill considered it a large missed opportunity. After that experience, he made it a point to learn more about the strengths of the people he is working with, especially when they don’t freely self-disclose that information.

  1. Address Conflict

Many people experience discomfort when team members disagree, employees push back, or bosses question ideas. They see conflict as negative. It helps to remember that conflict is natural, necessary, and normal. In fact, creative solutions to problems rarely occur without the tension of dissimilar ideas. For instance, the Wright brothers, inventors of modern air travel, were known to have intense disagreements over the course of their collaboration.

Great leaders know that they can gain the trust and confidence of their teams by opening themselves up to hear their concerns and resistance. Our introverted former president, Abraham Lincoln, traveled to Civil War battlefields to visit Union troops, and he held “office hours” in the White House to receive interested citizens and their countless requests.30

Like Lincoln, Anne Mulcahy, former Xerox CEO, knew she could not lead from behind closed office doors. She often went into the field to speak with executives, employees, and, most mi potently, customers. “Even though Rome was burning,” she said in a 2006 speech, “people wanted to know the future.” Today she is credited with leading a very successful business turnaround.

Introverted leaders orchestrate productive dialogue to engage both the introverts and extroverts on their teams. This becomes especially important when managing people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds or working across the globe with customers.

These six approaches give a glimpse into how leaders who don’t rattle their sabers quietly pull from their natural strengths. They are the memorable ones who we look back on with gratitude for they helped us grow and accomplish more than we thought possible.

 

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., Certified Speaking Professional, is a global speaker and expert on introverted leaders. She helps organizations to harness the power of introverts and is the author of The Genius of Opposites, Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader which have been translated into 16 languages. Reach out to Jennifer on Linked In, TwitterFacebook and on her website.

 

Are there introverts in Israel? “It’s complicated”

On the road to Masada with Bill and Yael

Prologue:

As I write this post, there is conflict on the borders of Israel. It is hard to divorce the tragedy of lost lives from the experiences of a vacation. It is also what makes a trip to Israel so different than any other visit. There are always eyes to be opened and questions to ask.   A country of 8.5 million people, the size of New Jersey survives in an atmosphere of both unrest and peace.  

My recent trip to Israel with husband Bill was a meaningful journey on so many levels. I never really understood what people meant when they returned, transformed and in love with the country and its people. Now I do. One theme song for our trip were the words, “It’s complicated.” That is true for a lot of what happens in Israel.

We were accompanied by our smart, warm and flexible guide, Yael who shared many heartfelt stories, history, and political insights that deepened our understanding and respect for a place we knew little about.

Because  I study introverts, when I travel, I naturally seek out examples of introversion. I have found that a culture can influence how introverts express themselves.  For instance, Asians value the introvert preference for quiet time and Australians love to extrovert and talk, talk and talk.

“On the surface, Israelis may often seem rude, pushy and inflexible” and “also be helpful in a time of crises.” said one website for expats.

Aside from generalities.  I wanted to discover the shades of Israeli personality myself.

I did find that many Israelis express a lively and highly extroverted vibe, but (like other dichotomies in Israel), people also manifest quiet strengths. I didn’t encounter rudeness.

Quiet Strengths 

What were some of the quiet strengths I observed? A few included conversations of depth, a reverence for writing, staying calm and being present.

  • Conversations of depth  – Quiet influencers and leaders build relationships and go deep in their discussions.  Israelis do this.  Small talk isn’t the norm but it is common to engage in intense discussions about security, sustainability, and the Jewish state, etc. In vibrant Tel Aviv, thousands of families and young people strolled and relaxed at cafes. It also seemed okay to hang out alone. We were taken with the young people. Whether foreign or native-born they genuinely seem to enjoy being with each other. Sure, they were on cell phones (Israel is the home of many tech startups) but we heard LOTS of live conversations as well.  Israelis have a mandatory 2 – 3- year military commitment after turning 18.  The leadership training and sense of purpose young people experience gives them a maturity beyond their years. They were poised, had excellent conversational skills and knew how to laugh.

 

  • A reverence for writing –. It is common for introverted leaders to figure out what they think and feel through writing, Theodore Herzl, referred to as the spiritual father of the Jewish state wrote his vision for Israel in order to understand what he believed. We also visited a beautiful area in the Negev desert called Mitzpe Ramon.    A memorial, at the Ramon Crater,  honors astronaut, Ilan Ramon who heroically died with 6 others in the 2003 Columbia Shuttle explosion.  His words live on.

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  • Staying calm  While there, we had some unexpected rain and several of the roads closed. Yael switched our plans after checking websites and conferring with colleagues. She calmly kept us updated. Fighting on the border meant we stayed away from some areas. Israelis are used to these everpresent changes and their calm demeanor is contagious. We felt safe and in good hands.  

 

  • Being present –  We drove miles through Israel’s desert and the vast expanse of open land interspersed with miles of breathtaking olive trees, date palms and vineyards were breathtaking.  We bounced around in jeep rides with guides in the Negev desert who love their land so deeply and were keen to share that passion with us. Keeping our eyes peeled for wild boar (which we found!) in the Golan Heights, we passed abandoned old Syrian bunkers, We heard stories of fear and bravery as we met with members of a Kibbutz who live each day to their fullest. They described surviving through nights of terror and their economic efforts to save their land and communities.

The people we met on our journey exhibited many qualities, and possess both introverted and extroverted traits.  I was grateful that I could absorb a beautiful array of people and sights that brought these quiet strengths into clearer view.

 

Walking near the Ramon Crater in the Negev

 

 

 

Introverted Women:Tap Into Your Quiet Strengths

 

Why I am a fan girl of techies

With “superwoman” Jennifer Ng Ain Kin, Project Manager, Abbott Vascular and a colleague at the IEEE Women’s Summit in California in 2015

In every performance review, I’m told I need to speak up, that I need to spend less time in my office with my door closed. My boss says I have to ‘sell’ my ideas with more enthusiasm. My co-workers say that I need to be more of a ‘team player’ and less of a ‘report generator.’ Believe me, I’ve tried. It seems that when I try to develop those skills, however, I’m just acting like someone else … How can I be me and still make a difference?

Sari sighed and shrugged her shoulders with more than a hint of frustration as she asked me this question during a leadership workshop I was running at her company. I’ve been asked a similar question many times, and I always feel a sense of sorrow in answering. The reality is that introverts—especially women who fall into this category—are continually asked to adapt to an extrovert-centric, male-dominated workplace that rewards being out there and on stage.

Many organizational cultures support those who talk about their accomplishments, who spend more time out and about networking instead of alone deep in thought, and who make sure they are the first to get their ideas heard. However, women like Sari are well prepared to shape the future of business for themselves and their organizations. I call them “Quiet Influencers.”

The problem is most organizations are not set up to leverage the many strengths those female introverts bring to the table – strengths that include reflection, preparation, listening, focused dialogue, writing and social media. On the contrary, most organizational cultures inadvertently put roadblocks in place that women like Sari face as they strive to move ahead.

In the time of #MeToo and #TimesUp it is important to understand some of the key roadblocks introverted working women typically face in the workplace so that so they can be addressed.

Lack of visibility
The numbers alone aren’t in women’s favor. Women represent just 14 percent of executive officers, 17 percent of board positions, and only 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs. Women risk being overlooked in a sea of male colleagues. Add to that an introverted woman’s natural tendency to wait before speaking up — and their general resistance to self-promotion or “bragging” — and their talents and accomplishments often don’t see the light of day.

A discomfort with networking and schmoozing, which come more naturally to their more extroverted colleagues, also places quieter women at a disadvantage. As one manager of several introverts told me, “I don’t have the time to figure out who has achieved what. I give opportunities to those who tell me what they are doing without my having to ask.”

Negative Impressions
Introverted women spend time thinking and stay longer “in their heads” than their extroverted colleagues do. Sometimes, this habit comes off as not showing emotion. They end up being judged by men as cold and unfeeling and by women as “stuck up.” Both men and women may even question their intentions. One coaching client told me her team thought she was planning a nefarious plot with the boss simply because she had not spoken up at a meeting.

Bias
Being the first female engineer, scientist or systems manager can be hard enough, but it is especially difficult if you’re not a talkative, outgoing Type-A personality. Nina, a young chemical engineer, said her 50-something extroverted male customer, who refused to address her directly and, during negotiations, spoke only to her junior employee, challenged her. The truth is, introverted women face the frustration of putting up with male authority figures who don’t let them speak.

Avoiding Conflict
Few organizations teach women how to manage the healthy conflict that is natural and necessary to generate new ideas. That makes it particularly hard for introverts, who tend to keep their opinions to themselves, to contribute to conversations around big decisions. Girls are rewarded for being polite and cooperative throughout their schooling. Because they receive a lot of positive reinforcement for being naturally quiet, introverted girls grow up to be women who focus on pleasing others and fitting in. In the professional arena, they avoid addressing conflicts head-on. Their frustration builds up as they repress ideas that challenge the status quo.  Feeling stuck and unappreciated, they may even dial down their career goals. Their valuable input gets ignored and the organization loses out on their innovative ideas and contributions.

So, if you are an introverted woman, what can you do to face these roadblocks? How can you tap into the female version of your quiet strengths to lean in? Consider these  5 steps you can take to tap into your natural strengths. 

Take Quiet Time
You can use your preference for quiet time and calm reflection to become more self-aware and clearer about the positions and motivations of others. Being assertive and confident can be a mental game and you can replace negative thinking with positive thoughts. Remember: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Recall how you felt when you pushed past a challenge and succeeded. When you are tempted to doubt yourself and your competency, use breaks to recharge by taking a calming walk or writing in your journal.

Make Time For Face Time
Focused conversations are the best format for solving problems, working through conflicts and asking for what you need. Diversity experts tell us that a key way to overcome bias is to get to know someone different on a personal level. This means engaging in honest, open, and direct communication. Discussions that don’t happen in large groups but do but outside the conference room are more effectiveWhen you give and get feedback from your teammates or boss, you build trust and get results.

Seek Out Other Introverts  Introverts don’t act like extroverts who shout to be heard above the noise and win people over to their point of view. Instead, they use their natural quiet strengths to challenge the status quo, provoke new thoughts, create change and challenge others. Seek out these quiet influencers and observe how their words and actions land with impact. They can serve as mentors who can help you navigate the waters of your company’s culture. They also can provide that needed push to keep learning and growing.

Manage Perceptions
Last year I coached Shira, a soft-spoken engineer who flew under the radar in her company. Her ideas were often ignored and she became aware of how her non-verbals spoke volumes. Shira wanted to change how others saw her so she decided to take a cue from stage performers and act “as if” she was confident. She slowed her breath down, raised her voice a level and increased her eye contact with others throughout the day. She still honored her temperament and her introverted needs, but these conscious steps altered the perceptions of her from an uninterested, non-assertive woman to a highly competent and strong contributor. Shira began to be asked her opinion more by her male colleagues and was included in discussions she had previously been excluded from.

Use Networking Smarts
Quiet influencers use both social networking and traditional face-to-face networking strategies to be effective. Social media is a great medium for quieter women. It allows them to control how and when they will engage with others. With an online presence, others can get to know as much about you as you care to share; it also helps you to achieve visibility that might be difficult to gain in person. Face to face networking is also important. You can schedule follow up phone calls with people you meet online. You can also do this at company women’s forums or other networking groups. I participated in two inspiring days at a pharmaceutical company conference where women from all levels and specialties had the space to discuss their concerns, applaud their achievements and gain ideas from each other, all with the strong support of senior leadership. You can use occasions like this to apply your natural ability for in-depth conversation and focused dialogue to learn and contribute to the conversation.

As quiet influencers, you have what it takes to overcome the roadblocks in your path and add true value to your teams and organizations. Tap into your natural strengths to make your own unique difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Match the Communication Medium to the Message

 I was so pleased to be asked to write a guest post for my friend Ryan Jenkin’s blog. I hope you enjoy it and check out his great work on helping companies get the best from millennials and Generation Z. 

Millennials and Generation Z often prefer texting. Boomers like to connect by phone  and engage in conversations. Just as different generations have communication preferences, so do different personality types.

So, what is the best method to use?

How to match the medium to the message

I am a champion and advocate for introverts in the workplace and I have been interested in the question of what the best way they can  communicate to be heard. Introverts are energized by solitude and quiet time. Extroverts draw their energy from people and tend to be the more vocal and visible.

Last year, our company conducted a survey to learn more about the preferences of introverted leaders.  How are they using different communication modes to be effective?

The results, based on responses from 40 introverted leaders from across different industries and job functions, were intriguing. Respondents indicated that matching the communication method with the information that needs to be delivered is essential and increases the likelihood that people will get the message.

Here is what we learned about how introverts view the vehicles of communication:

Email

Introverts often find this tool to be the most effective for delivering data, setting appointments, and dispensing other routine information. It’s also a great format for disseminating relevant content before meetings and outlining a business case for a project.

One survey respondent wrote: “Email allows me to get things off my plate (delegating, responding to my team) so that I can concentrate on my most important task at hand. It also cuts down on the need for conversations that could lead to chitchat.” Another observed: “I can write something and let it sit for a while, and then come back to it and make changes before I send it out.” Some said email helps them be better communicators. “If I were in a telephone-dependent work era, I would never have advanced very far. Email and social channels allow me to express myself in written form.”

Text Messages

Introverts use texting to get quick answers, to do on-the-spot logistical planning, and for check-ins. Group texting “conversations” are also a time-efficient way to gather different view- points. As with email, texting allows introverts to take the time they need to send the clearest message possible. One survey respondent said, “Texting is my greatest ally. It allows me to respond quickly and intelligently. The ability to edit before hitting send (or enter) reduces my risk of misused words, something that happens often on the phone and creates enormous amounts of frustration and miscommunication.”

Telephone

This is a great tool to reinforce emails or texts. Telephone conversations are also good for connecting when you want to develop working relationships and build credibility. Your voice and tone become part of the medium. I once received a voicemail from Jared, an introverted sales member of our team, requesting that I call him. During our phone conversation, he explained a sensitive client situation that I could have easily misunderstood if he had tried to describe it in an email. Because of his communication choice, my opinion of Jared—and his credibility—rose.

The theme of preparing for these telephone conversations as a way to stay present and focused also emerged in the survey. The most popular methods for doing this are to remove distractions and to prepare questions and talking points ahead of time. Almost 60 percent of survey respondents said that they rely on these prompts to refocus the conversation when it is getting off track.

Face-to-Face Communication

Delivering important news, launching a project, praising people, or working out issues and problems can be best handled in a face-to-face conversation. CEO Paul English says that as an introvert, it’s a temptation to sit in front of his computer all day. “But if that’s literally all I do, it’s sucking energy out of the room. People want to engage with me. It’s a lot easier to transmit energy face-to-face than to transmit it electronically.”

English also keeps his calendar open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. His explanation: “At the last minute, I can just grab a few people I haven’t seen in a while. Sometimes we have an agenda, but mostly it’s just socializing. Without that human connection, it goes at.”

Even though introverts know that one-on-one communication is important, it was the least favorite form of communication cited by introverted leaders on our survey. Telephone conversation and face-to-face communication were used by each respondent less than 7 percent of the time, compared to 67 percent for email use and 27 percent for texting.

And so, what have I learned? As a highly paid consultant once told me, “It depends.” When we consider what we are trying to achieve with our communication, we can select from the repertoire of available options and select the mode that fits the situation. There are times we each need to put aside our default, comfortable method  and try the method that will get results.

 

 

 

 

 

How does your team view introverts?

 

One of the ways to reduce bias and educate co-workers about introverts is to bring up the topic with your team. But how do you do this? Here are three suggestions based on my work with diverse organizations across the globe.

1) Take the MBTI- Suggest your team take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – This assessment is widely available and should be administered by a certified instructor. You can also get other versions online. The debrief and discussion will open up everyone’s eyes and strengthen working relationships.

2) Take a quiz – Suggest your team take one of our quizzes to get a view of how they use the strengths of introverted leaders, quiet influencers, and genius opposites. The quizzes can be taken on your phone or online and they deliver immediate results. They are designed to provoke awareness and discussion. Note: You don’t have to be introverted to take these assessments. Follow up with solutions and tools from the companion books, The Introverted Leader 2nd edition, Quiet Influence, and The Genius of Opposites.

3) Pose questions – On your next conference call or live staff meeting, pose a question from the list below. Allow time for discussion. If you make it a safe place, people will inevitably weigh in and you will learn a great deal about your team. You will also get ideas on how to make your workplace more introvert-friendly. This knowledge will strengthen your ability to work together.

a) How do you think introverted leadership is relevant to our company’s mission and vision?

b) What challenges do introverts face in our organization?

c) What best practices might we implement to bring out the best in all our team members?

With each of these steps, you are shining the light on introversion and taking it out of the dark recesses of misunderstanding and second-class citizenship. Valuing introverted qualities at work impacts the productivity and well-being of all associates. You can be a catalyst for that important change.