Tag Archives: introvert

The Sound of Silence

Silence.

I think the universe is giving me the high sign to be quiet. For extroverts like myself, it is too easy to talk and make conversation. But what are we missing when we fill the space with our words and do not stop to let our pauses land?

Why, for instance, when waiting in line, is it easier to chatter or pick up your phone than simply stay present and notice what is going on with you and your surroundings?

I attended a retreat in Mexico and was away from technology and deadlines. The silence was beautiful. I meditated every morning and spent time in quiet reflection. To my family’s surprise, I even attended a silent dinner.

That last activity was a surprisingly relaxing and calming interlude. It was hard to believe that it lasted 1½ hours. I ate slowly, thinking about my food and how it looked and tasted. I was simply being. I came back determined to live more in the pause.

“The truth is in the silence. People are afraid to have a silent moment. People are jumping up and giving their opinion too quickly.” These words, spoken by the late comedian Gary Shandling  are profound. In an interview with podcast host Mark Maron, he went on to say that he believed that not being silent was a defensive reaction to not going deeper.

In my research for my book, Quiet Influence I found that introverts value quiet time above all other strengths. It is the place which is the wellspring for their creativity energy and where they go to recharge.

In Krista Tippitt’s podcast, On Being, Tiffany Shlain, a web guru, described how she and her family take a technology Sabbath on Friday night and Saturdays and how it has changed all of their lives for the better. Taking a radical step like that might just be the answer to reclaiming silence.

So, what will you do to build silence and a quiet space into your hectic life? Things are not going to get less busy, so it is probably wise to figure that out now, not tomorrow.

Do You Know the Secret to Being an Ace Interviewer? Introverts Do!

Guest blog by Dean Nelson

I met author and journalism professor Dean Nelson last year at a writing workshop. I was so pleased to hear that he has incorporated many practical lessons about interviewing into his new book, Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro. We both agreed that preparation is the absolute key to ANY successful interview. So whether you have a project or a podcast, check out Dean’s tips in the guest blog post below.

There is a myth out there that the only people who can get sources to talk to them are the hard-charging extroverts, the people who exude confidence through their pores, who have no trouble walking up to strangers and getting them to say things they wouldn’t say even after the fourth waterboarding treatment.

It’s simply not true.

There are some people who see no stranger danger, but most of us are a little more reluctant. Most of us know full well that it takes a willful suspension of discomfort to interview a stranger.

One of my favorite movies is Almost Famous, which is based on a true story of Cameron Crowe’s experience of being on the road with a rock and roll band. The movie is a terrific tribute to rock, and a poignant coming of age story. But if you watch it through the prism of interviewing, it is a clinic on how to conduct interviews when you lack confidence. The main character, William, is 15. And the best way to describe him is “awkward.”

Early in the movie he gets an assignment from the Creem, the rock magazine, to interview the band Black Sabbath. But that interview doesn’t work out. It seems he wasn’t assertive enough. As he trudges away from the arena where they blew him off, another band passes him. He follows them to the stage door and tries to engage them.

“Hi, I’m a journalist. I write for Creem magazine,” he says.

This band is equally dismissive. He seems discouraged, but tries one more thing.

“Russell. Jeff. Ed. Larry,” William says, instantly gaining credibility. “I really love your band. I think the song ‘Fever Dog’ is a big step forward for you guys. I think you guys producing it yourselves, instead of Glyn Johns, was the right thing to do. And the guitar sound was incendiary.”

William gestures with a fist, says, “Way to go,” and starts to walk away.

“Well don’t stop there,” one of the musicians yells.

“Yeah, come back here! Keep going! I’m incendiary, too!”

Then the backstage door opens and they pull him in with them.

Preparation will triumph over personality every time.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when you consider talking to a source, a client, a customer, a witness, or whomever else you think might be reluctant to talk to you:

  • Why do you want to talk to this person? You’d be surprised how often people don’t think about this ahead of time.
  • What do you hope will be the outcome of this conversation?
  • What can I ask this person that hasn’t already been asked many times? In other words, what will make your conversation unique?
  • How can you make this conversation appeal to the source’s self interest?

And here are some methods that will give you confidence as you enter into that conversation:

  • Before the interview, educate yourself on the topic. In the age of Google, there is no excuse to not already know a lot of the answers you’re looking for. What you want from the interview is the human voice, the insight, the complexity.
  • Put your questions in order. Know where the interview is going.
  • Ask the difficult question, even if it’s awkward. Believe me, they’re expecting it.

Doing these things won’t make you someone you’re not. They’ll make you comfortable with who you are, so that you can be authentically you.

If you’re authentic and prepared, you’ll be amazed at the access people will give you. They might even call you incendiary!

 

Dean Nelson, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, and the host of the annual Writer’s Symposium By The Sea. His new book, published by HarperCollins, is “Talk To Me: How To Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro.” This essay is adapted from that book.

https://www.amazon.com/Talk-Me-Questions-Answers-Interview/dp/1982610093

See his interviews with writers at www.deannelson.net

The Hard Reality of Open Workspaces for Introverts

In the research I am doing for my book on introvert-friendly work cultures, open spaces are not getting high marks from introverts.

Although they find ways to adapt, they push against the prevailing idea that open offices are the ideal. There don’t seem to be many attempts to ask introverted employees about how to make these spaces work for them and their challenges fall into three key categories: communication, lack of privacy, and distractions.

Communication
Aside from a lower cost per foot, one stated goal of open offices is to inspire communication and collective creativity, like bees in a hive, as one author wrote. Unfortunately, the research does not always support this claim. In fact, a widely quoted research study from researchers at Harvard found that open-office layouts actually cut face-to-face conversations by 70% and that email and texting replaced these conversations. People withdrew from office mates. They also noticed losses in productivity after open office designs were implemented. The caveat is that the sample size was small.

One company told me that to combat this and encourage communication, they decided to place people in their large HR department next to each other using their last names in alphabetical order as opposed to by function or team. This backfired and the employees found that not being seated near their intact team was very inefficient and frustrating.

Lack of Privacy
Introverts value privacy. They don’t necessarily want to make small talk with extroverted office mates who stop by. Private space is also necessary for thinking. One survey by William Belk found that 58% of employees reported needing more private space for problem-solving.

Introverts like to function under the radar and with leaders of the company standing or sitting next to them, there is little room for handling issues privately without the fear of someone looking over their shoulders. One author questioned whether individuals “might be willing to take creative risks if it means everyone in the office sees their experiments or failures.”

Distractions
Time and time again, the introverts who responded to our survey emphasized how important a quiet environment is to their ability to function.

“We are in cubicles, and sound/voices travel for three to four cubicles. It is very disruptive.”
“Cube walls don’t cut it. We still hear all your extrovert conversations and lose track of what we are doing.

Introverts do not like over-stimulation from the external environment. In a busy open space organization, the physical proximity of people, noise, and light can take them off their game. Conversely, noise and light management can be an effective solution to allowing introverts that quiet they need. For example, one survey respondent found their own way of signaling with light their need for quiet time at their workplace.

“My workplace allows me to use lamps instead of the overhead lights. I don’t always use them, but my co-workers know when it’s a “lamp day” it means I’m pretty overwhelmed and they are considerate.”

How to Create Introvert-Friendly Office Spaces
In an advice column to introverts seeking jobs, the employer review website GlassDoor.com recommended they only look at workplaces where they’d have a door. Their rationale was that introverts will perform better in solitude. While this is true, building predominantly private offices is not a viable option for most companies in today’s changing workspace. And for companies, redoing their office spaces is not feasible. So, what options should introverted employees ask about when sizing up a potential workplace? And more importantly, what are some viable solutions for companies to ensure their current and future introverted employees are set up for success?

When attracting talent and planning ideal office spaces, leaders should look around their company, consider the other factors that play into effective workplace design, and ask introverts what they need to be productive. That would be a good start.

Give us your suggestions

We are still collecting data on best practices so please complete this short survey to tell us your thoughts about introvert-friendly workplaces. Thanks!

What Can Project Managers Learn from Introverted Leaders?

This podcast planning flow chart is an example of how Velociteach
practices project management principles in everything they do! 

 

Who Are Project Managers?

I have always admired project managers (PM’s). Their organization and ability to pull together disparate projects on deadline and under budget is impressive. Often promoted from their technical homes in Engineering, Science, and Technology, they get work done!

Influencing people without having formal authority also means that project managers need to refine and sharpen their skills in communication, persuasion, and negotiation. I have found that successful Introverted leaders have learned to use their natural strengths like listening and preparation to accomplish these tasks. They have many lessons to offer PM’s who must navigate their roles up, down, and across the organization.

Partnering with PM’s 

Working with a vibrant project management training company called Velociteach, I developed a course based on the lessons learned from these introverted leaders across a wide variety of industries and organizations.

In preparation, I stopped into the Manage This podcast studio and was interviewed by Bill Yates and Andy Crowe, the executives at Velociteach. As seasoned PM’s, they opened up about the challenges and benefits of leveraging their introverted and extroverted sides. As an extrovert and introvert “Genius Opposite” pair, you will hear how they balance each other out. We also had some good laughs in our time together.

The whole staff threw themselves into the development of my new course and worked the material themselves. We had a number of stimulating conversations about how their own personality preferences served them. Jordan Demers, Media Arts Designer and one of the course developers shared her learning about embracing her own “pause” as an introvert in one of those exchanges.

What You Get from Taking the Course 

Together, we created a compact course with hard-hitting lessons and numerous practical tools.  It is called The Introverted Leader: Leading a Team In Today’s Extroverted Workplace, and it is getting strong reviews.

The good news is you will receive 4.5 PDU’s after listening and watching. There are also lots of handouts and many tools!

I believe this online program is engaging and informative. And as a member of my community, I am pleased to offer you 15% off the regular price. Just use the promo code INTROVERT15 and you are ready to go! Whether you manage projects as your full-time job or just as part of your work, I hope this course helps you gain more control over your work. I would love to hear your feedback. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons from Introvert Island: The Power of Quiet

The beach at Spring Bay, British Virgin Gorda. Photo taken by Adam Goldberg https://agoldbergphoto.com/

 

I recently returned to the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. It’s been a year since Hurricane Irma reaped its devastation, leaving 95% of the quiet island’s residents homeless and without power for weeks. 

Rising from this storm, came numerous stories of resilience and inspiration. Neighbors helped neighbors. Private individuals stepped up and volunteered with donations of food, supplies, and funds to help the island get on its feet again. People created new jobs for themselves. Out of the “mash up” as they called it, folks are slowly getting their footing. You hear the sounds of buzz saws and drills everywhere. And there was great applause as one small guest house was finished hours before the guests arrived. 

The post-traumatic stress of this event impacted everyone, but slowly tourism is returning and houses are being built. We loved visiting with our friends on the island who we have known for over 35 years. They smiled, but keep working together to rebuild.

I wrote the post below 2 years ago, but the lessons about quiet and calm are even more relevant to me in the shadow and aftermath of Irma. 

Calling Mom 

As I sat on a beach in the British Virgin Islands, I called my 96-year-old mom, Lucille. It was snowing in NYC and I wanted to make sure she was safe and sound in her apartment. After assuring me that I “shouldn’t worry,” I held the phone up to the sound of the gentle waves and described the bright blue sky to her. Mom had been to that same place 30 years before and she described snorkeling from that same beach. The fish were beautiful, she said. I told her she could still visit that place anytime she wants to by closing her eyes and imagining the quiet, serene scene of warmth and sunlight. I want to follow my own advice.

Introverts Know How To Get Quiet 

One of the many strengths of introverts is that they are able to get quiet and engage in an active inner life. One way to do that is through guided imagery. WEB MD says, “You can achieve a relaxed state when you imagine all the details of a safe, comfortable place, such as a beach or a garden. This relaxed state may aid healing, learning, creativity, and performance. It may help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes, which may improve your attitude, health, and sense of well-being.”

Introverts Can Be Alone 

Introverts relish being alone. Stepping away from phones, the news, and the busyness of life allowed me to step into my introverted side and be present. I noticed the changing weather, the sounds of roosters, the soft breezes, the far away airplane engine, and even a barracuda’s sleek lines as we passed each other under water.

Early one morning I walked to a nearby beach. I sat down and leaned against a large boulder. Except for the crashing waves and my footprints in the deep, wet sand I was totally alone. It was exhilarating and so rare an experience in today’s world.

Return to the Island 

Thanks to the brain’s ability to take me back, I will conjure up that scene when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. I believe it will become easier the more I do it. I can return to the island and regain the power of quiet. Guided imagery is a gift we all have access to any time, in any place.

Quiet introvert Emma Watson is heard

 

 

This week at a press conference at the Davos Economic Forum  a young actress  shared some of the results of her now famous rallying call for gender equality. She also announced suggested actions for participating in this movement and how her organization will be seeking concrete examples of change.

Emma Watson, former Harry Potter star and leading British actor is a self proclaimed quiet introvert. In a courageous way she is using her platform as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador to fight for gender equality around the world.

In an inspiring speech she gave at the U.N. last September, she first asked men to take up the mantle to support women in a new “HeForShe” movement. She believes that the movement will be helped by men AND women speaking up to protest injustice. 

Ms. Watson said that her passion and the importance of this issue helped her to overcome her pre- speech nervousness and self-doubt. It is apparent that  the preparation she put into both speeches helped her be poised and articulate. When quiet introverts who are not used to speaking put time into preparation the results clearly pay off.

I do encourage you to listen to her stirring speech and hear her eloquently describe her own experiences, share some sobering stats about women and explain why she is so strongly committed to seeing change occur.

“This is the first campaign of its kind at the UN…we don’t just want to talk about it….”

“Men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

“Feminism has become an unpopular word….it is not the word that is important. It is the idea and the ambition behind it because not all women have received the same rights I have. “

“…both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong.,

This quiet influencer and introverted leader has wowed millions and given us a focal point for change. She has already made a tremendous difference by getting the world to pay attention.

 

Introverts finding their power

Introverts Finding Their Power

One of the many images on introverts onlineI

I once heard The Introvert Entrepreneur Beth Buelow  joke in an interview with Jonathon Rauch that only a few years ago when you researched the word “introvert”  “serial killer” was one of the top hits on the list of search results!

Beth is not exaggerating! One great result of the current introvert revolution is that awareness about introverts has increased exponentially. It is not unusual to get over 40 daily Google alerts in my inbox with everything from a great Pinterest graphic  to a moving blog post such as 7 Things A Quiet Student Wish Their Teacher Understood  by Marsha Pinto a teenager who writes for the Huffington Post.

I also enjoyed this recent insightful piece from Fairbanks, Alaska by Judith Kleinfeld called Quiet But Strong: Deciphering the Hidden Power of Introverts . I am glad the writer realizes that she can step into her own power by not changing who she is but by building on her natural strengths. As she is figuring how to do this she describes the differences between E’s and I’s.

“One of my friends, “Ned,” is basically an extrovert. He makes friends easily, is very talkative, loves to have parties and invites people he hardly knows to come over for dinner. Other people I know, like “Laura,” are typical introverts. They need time alone to recharge their batteries. Laura can be more extroverted when the situation calls for it. But she has chosen to be an academic, a career field which is particularly attractive to introverts since they can be engaged in solitary work.I myself am a good example of an introvert. I much prefer to spend my time alone writing this column or writing books than going to a party or just hanging out with friends. My favorite activities require a lot of solitude, like doing research or exercising on the treadmill while watching DVDs of cooking techniques.”

Extroverts are starting to pay attention to the needs of introverts and so, thankfully are organizations. Writing is power and with more quality media about introverts emerging we have a chance to see our society and our workplaces becoming more inclusive. I say, bring it on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Extrovert Personality Traits Work on A Mission To Mars?

Extrovert Personality Traits

Extroverted Spaceman played by George Clooney

I have some bad news to break to you Extroverts itching to  jump on board the next NASA Mars Mission. You best wait for some Introverts to balance out the equation.   According to an interesting new study reported in Live Science  extrovert personality traits contribute to success but need to be balanced with those of introverts.

The research team of  experts pulled data from previous space missions as well as  mission simulations of a 100 days or more.

Study researcher Suzanne Bell  of DePaul University in Chicago spoke about the plusses and minuses of having Extroverts aboard. She said that the talkative extrovert can really get annoying to the introverts on the flight.

The article described it this way, ” Typically, extroverts — who tend to be sociable, outgoing, energetic and assertive — are good to have on work teams because they speak up and engage in conversations about what needs to be done, which is good for planning, Bell said. And because of their social interactions, extroverts tend to have a good understanding of who knows what on a team (such as who the experts in a certain field are), which helps foster coordination.” 

The researchers said that the extroverts may have a hard time adapting to the lack of stimulation.

“People who are extroverted might have a hard time coping because they want to be doing a lot; they want to be engaged in a lot of things,” said study researcher Shanique Brown, a graduate student in industrial and organizational psychology at DePaul. “And [on these missions], there won’t be that much to do — things become monotonous after a while, and you’re seeing the same people.”

Bell noted that a team of all introverts is also not the solution. The question is, where’s the balance, and once we find the balance, what can we do through training” to promote team compatibility?” she said. 

The article focuses on the pros and cons of extrovert personality traits on board. I can imagine that the introverted personality traits of solitude, careful preparation, focused conversations and a high tolerance for calm are a few of the assets out in space.  I wonder if George Clooney’s fate in Gravity is an example of what happens to Extroverts on their way to Mars?:)