Posts tagged ‘introvert strengths’

March 20, 2012

The New Glass Ceiling: Are We Guilty of Holding Introverts Back?

There is a remarkable video of a talk that has recently been posted on the web by TED.com.   It’s about how introverts work and it is remarkable not just because this simple, 20 minute talk has notched up an incredible 1,270,000 views, despite only being posted a couple of weeks ago, but also because it is confidently delivered, against all her inclinations, by an avowed introvert.

As Susan Cain explains in her talk, public speaking is not a natural territory for introverts.  Very rarely will you see a conference stage or a boardroom paced by an introvert as they espouse their views on the matter in hand.  The people you see doing this are much more likely to be extroverts, who are significantly more comfortable than introverts with sharing the contents of their minds and hearts and far more inclined to engage in debate and discussion with others who agree or disagree.

Introverts, and that’s at least a considerable minority of the population (although estimations vary, with some arguing that it could include anything up to 50% of the population), just don’t tend to put themselves in these types of situations.  Reluctant to offer snap responses and preferring reflection and individual decision making to any common workplace practice such as arguing a case, negotiating an outcome or riding the wave of a discussion, introverts’ favourite spaces are far from the battlefields of meetings, public speaking or vigorous debate.

More importantly, they just don’t do their best thinking there. They struggle and usually fail to achieve their true potential in these environments, in stark opposition to extraverts who rely on external inputs and communication to stimulate their creativity, develop their ideas and help form their opinions.

So what then is introverted Susan Cain doing on stage commanding both a live and a huge global online audience? 

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