Introvert Uprising: When the Silent Strike Back (SXSW 03-11-2014)


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Are you tired of hearing "What's wrong with you?" from well-meaning co-workers? Do you feel like your peers just talk and talk just to hear themselves speak? Have you been accused of being anti-social or a loner? You're not alone. 57% of the world are introverts, and it's time we make ourselves heard. Being an introvert isn't something to be cured, it's a way of life. Join three very different industry professionals (and one professionally-trained clinical counselor) to hear how we deal with the trials and tribulations of living and working at the far end of the introversion scale. Oh and hey extroverts, stop assuming everyone is like you.

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  • Welcome everyone - thanks for joining us here on the final day of SXSW Interactive.
    I’d like to start by talking about why we’re here, what we hope to accomplish and why we think this topic is important to talk about.
    First off – by bringing up this discussion we’re building understanding and awareness, contributing to better working relationships for everyone — whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, hopefully there will be some things in here that will apply to both, and will help everyone to communicate better.
    It will also help to understand ourselves better - to have better self-awareness; if we understand our drivers and motivators for doing things, maybe we can respond a little bit better, or we can figure out a better way to deal with other people and respond to different situations.
    We also hope to identify some strategies that will help introverts to thrive in the workplace, and also extroverts who are working with those introverts to help them to work better together.
    And finally, to redefine the negative perceptions associated with being an introvert. Right now there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding what an introvert is, and how to deal with them. Being an introvert is viewed as a flaw, and we’d like to share some ways that introversion can be viewed as an advantage.
  • Gawker - says introverts ruin everything just by being themselves.
  • I am Jayna Wallace, I live in Columbus, OH and work as the Director of Product for a 16-person startup called Speek that’s based in Washington, DC.
    I’ve been a remote employee for the last seven years, and I am an introvert - self-described. Also, misanthrope.
    John: John - live in San Jose, CA - designer at Symantec working on their enterprise solutions.
    Alisa: Alisa - live in DC, work as design director at HelloWallet. We create products to help individuals with budgeting and overall long term financial health
    Erin: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor - work primarily with adults going through life transitions.
  • Jayna: So what do we mean when we use the term “introvert?”
    An introvert is someone who loses energy as a result of interacting with people - in particular new people, in particular small talk interactions that aren’t moving toward a specific goal.
    Extroverts think by talking - so if you ask them a question, they’re going to think through it out loud - by saying things out loud. Introverts like to think before they talk. So if you ask them a question, they want to think and process and reflect before they actually give you an answer.
  • Secret squirrel is a squirrel.
    Secret squirrel wears a trenchcoat.
    But that doesn’t meant all squirrels wear trenchcoats.

    Someone who is shy can be an introvert.
    But not all introverts are shy.
  • Erin:
    Carl Jung
    1920s - coined the term “introvert” - came out with a book where he defined what he felt an introvert was. The one who was looking at different personality types.
    Isabel was a woman who was interested in the concept and wanted to make it more relevant to everyday life that people could relate to and benefit from - created the Myers-Briggs test - the way she looks at it is personality preference in terms of where a person focuses his or her attention.
    Introversion tend to focus on inner world of ideas and impressions
    Extroversion - tend to focus their attention on the outer world of people and things.
    Susan Cain
    Susan Cain is the name and the person who’s brought the topic to a wider audience. The ‘Quiet’ book is basically the bible for introverts - she’s got the book, she’s got a TED talk, she’s basically everywhere - she is the present-day authority on introverts.
  • “This awareness is not unique to students; I’ve seen the same trend with senior executives. Leaders are coming out of the introvert closet in droves.”,3/
    Is it safe to be an introvert now? Are there still obstacles there? Do you think society’s perception is starting to change? Alisa, what do you think?
    Alisa: The topic has definitely come to the surface a little more. Knowing that there are very different types of personalities in the workplace, there probably should more support and education from the HR or culture team within organizations. I still think there is still a long road there.
    John: I wouldn’t say things are changing but introverts are being looked at a bit differently. As Susan Cain put it, in at least in the US we started out as a ‘culture of character’ where your self-worth was measured by the content of your character, your morals. Now since early 20th century, we’ve morphed into a ‘culture of personality’ where the winners, the people you should look up to are the charmers, talkers, the popular people, etc. I still say that that’s still the case today in terms of perception - thank you social media, tv, celebrities, & all that – but there seems to be a turn towards more acceptance, recognition, appreciation of those introvert qualities that were deemed “bad”. But in the end of the day. the overall “extroverts = good, introverts = bad” viewpoint is still the default narrative.
    Erin: Early stages of perception change. Cain’s work as instrumental in shining light on topic, generating dialog and debate. But like any issue in early stages of dialog and debate (i.e. health care), need to sift through dialog and misinformation to defining facts and generating strategies. As meaningful dialog and strategies continue to surface, people (like myself) will be more empowered to self-identify as introverts.
    Jayna: I feel the same way — around July, there were a million articles circulating around the internet - like the Huffington Post, Gawker, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company — all the usual suspects really - then by August, just a month later - there was all kinds of backlash that happened - and those articles were saying that these differences we’ve been talking about don’t exist and “introverts” are just being whiny.
    At some point being an introvert seemed like it was an okay thing to be — then it became the “in” thing to be — almost everyone you’d talk to would self-describe as an introvert. Everyone will come up to you and say “well I don’t think you’re an introvert, you don’t act like an introvert.” It seems like everyone EVERYONE you talk to thinks that they are, and you’re not — the pendulum just swung completely the other way - again there are a lot of misunderstandings of what an introvert actually is, and how you view yourself.
    Erin: I think initial backlash is natural as topics gain steam and people/institutions feel the need to stake and defend their position. However, I anticipate and believe that the defensive positions around the topic of introversion/extroversion will evolve into the type of discussion we’re having today that acknowledges differences and directs dialog around ways to maximize the strengths that people bring to relationships and the workplace.
  • Jayna: So talking about how to measure introversion - certain traits and characteristics are more associated with leaders and extroverted qualities, while other words used to describe introverts tend to be flawed, damaged, anti-social, shy, aloof, arrogant, reserved, pathological, and substandard. Basically introverts are broken extroverts. There was an article that came out recently where they compared introverts to serial killers. And then when bad things happen, the idea is “well this person was an introvert, we should’ve known.” Really there are no studies anywhere that would say that because you have introverted tendencies you’re more likely to be a serial killer.
    Do you think any of these words describe you? What are some of the other misconceptions you’ve heard when it comes to introverts?
    Erin: My experience around being Aloof vs. understanding and appreciating my tendency to stand back, listen, observe and internal process information before offering my ideas and insights to others.
    John: [I think we should use the serial killer bit as a source of power! Gain that upper hand in interactions, keep them in fear, not knowing what we’re capable of!] Me personally, I’ve been more in situations where people feel threatened, intimidated by my silence - that I’m internally judging, dissecting everything they say. It’s true, I totally am! But it’s more that I’m taking everything in, I’m listening intently, mentally recording things, taking note of the details - & those are some of the positive attributes of introverts - being good listeners, being engaged in the conversation, taking it all in & processing. Isn’t our fault that the final judgement may not be in your favor ;)
    Alisa: My experience has been along the same lines of John’s where people think that I’m judging them, when in reality, I’m just observing.
    In terms of other misconceptions, post interviews there are comments like “he didn’t say much”. Interviews should not be about winning the interview. It should be about understanding if the person has the skill and if they’d be an excellent addition to the company culture.
    Jayna: That’s right - we’ve talked about that before - interviewing is a skill all its own - and especially for someone with more introverted tendencies you’re certainly not in your comfort zone so you’re not going to see them - it’s like going to the zoo to see the animals - they’re not in their natural habitat at ALL - so it’d be hard to know what it’d be like to work with them on a day to day basis. So yeah, it’s definitely something that would definitely rule against them, if they come across that way.
    For me, I am called a mute SO MUCH. All the time — in fact, our CTO just wrote an article - and didn’t name me directly, but it was called “The four worst people to be on a conference call with” - and the very last one was the person who never says anything. Because you don’t know they’re there, and they fade away and you’re not sure if they’re okay or if they’re alive. It’s a valid concern - and it’s something that’s been brought to up to me a lot a lot a lot. Especially at AOL - there were lots of times where you’d just listen to a call - you don’t have anything to contribute, you don’t have anything to say - you just have to be there to listen. But there are other people - that we worked with - that they will contribute - they will say SOMETHING, just to hear the sound of their own voice, really. But I’m learning - they’re saying stuff so that other people will know that they’re there (I think.) It makes them look better because they’re participating and they’re engaged - so if you have nothing valuable to say - it’s still worthwhile to find something to say to show that you’re there. So that’s something I’ve had to force myself to do. And it’s not easy.
    Being shy is NOT the same as being an introvert. You can be an introvert and be shy, but just because you are shy does not make you an introvert.
  • We talk about introverts like it’s a thing, but it’s really more about people who have preferences to behave a certain way in certain situations. In the middle there’s an ambivert who could go either way. And you can act like an introvert in certain situations and in other situations you’re not.
    Where do you each see yourselves fall on this spectrum?
    Alisa: I don’t wake up everyday and say omg I'm an introvert - I hate people. I like social settings. I don't enjoy long drawn out discussions. I'd rather be able to think about things beforehand and them converge. Working in a startup is great because it sort of forces you to build relationships with the 30-40 people that you see everyday. It doesn't allow you to give yourself that free pass of oh, the company is big and no one will notice if if I'm not participating in something.
    Erin: I identify and test out as an Ambivert with a lean toward introverted traits. In reference to Introvert qualities, I am a good listener and an internal processor who excels from quiet time to focus on my thoughts and feelings before offering my contribution to the group process. And while I am selective about my social interactions, when in those settings, I enjoy and excel in my ability to engage and connect with others.
    John: I want to say I fall somewhere between ambivert/introvert. I prefer more intimate conversations, gatherings. In group settings, I hang in the back, engaged, but don’t feel the urge to feel like I’m having my say, that I’m contributing. I definitely need my solitude to re-charge but am not shy. I don’t consider dealing with groups of people, large group think scenarios, presenting, etc, as way out of my comfort zone and dreaded. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t look for nor get any sort of charge or inspiration in those situations. I usually opt for other activities if possible. But when I have to, If fully prepared, I’m okay talking to a room full of people, performing on stage.
  • So Erin, the word “energy” came up a lot, both as we were defining “introvert” and in the course of the history. What is “energy?”
    Energy gains and drains are at the core of differences between introverts and extroverts. In order for Introverts to rise up, advocate and excel in the workplace, we must first know ourselves and the ways get mentally, physically energized in order to perform at our best. Susan Cain refers to “stimulation” as the key difference and the importance of introverts knowing their “stimulation zone”. Because certain aspects of the workplace environment and culture drain introvert’s energy (i.e. open floor plan, group think meetings), it is important for introverts to know ways to recharge their mental & physical energy. These ways of gaining energy serve as mental and physical fuel that insure that the introvert performs at his or her peak ability.
  • What are some things you’ve encountered in the workplace that drain you of all your energy?
    Alisa: Long meetings - especially early in the day. People, and lots of meetings.
    John: For me, it’s all the things you can lump to as interruptions - it’s the impromptu meetings & discussions, the backchatter tools teams are leveraging more & more for side conversations (Campfire, Chatter, Group message threads) & it’s not the people engagement part of that the drains me. It’s mental start/stop/restart it causes when I’m trying to focus & synthesize on something. The days where at the end I’ve felt worn down are usually the days where - it doesn’t even have to equate to most of my day – but if a portion of my day was dealing with the interruptions & I didn’t have the equal quiet downtime, quiet, re-charge, I feel burnt. Where if I spent the day ping ponging between meetings or doing solo work but it’s across a few different projects, problems, day long ideation sessions, etc. I’m ok. It’s the just that constant cycle of “I’m getting ready to work on A, so I mentally preparing myself, then I get started, then someone pings me for 15 minutes on something totally different so now I have mentally shift & start on this new thing. Then when I’m done I return to item A but need to restart mentally prepping for it again, I get started, then someone IMs me because someone asked me a question in the Campfire room & why aren’t I paying attention to the Campfire, where are you?why are you such a loner? Don’t you like working with us? – I feel wiped just talking about it.
    Jayna: I never did well with the after-work happy hours to the point where I would always avoid them, and then I was labeled as the person who never goes to the after-work happy hours. When I tried to go I would get so tried - because it’s EXHAUSTING - the way Erin was saying - listening to the trivial nonsense that can go on forever (especially when people are blathering drunk). So the Irish Goodbye thing - you can just fade off into the background - and you can send a text to someone after you’re already out the door to let them know you’ve left. But the idea - that if you do go to some sort of outing (it’s harder if you go to lunch because you carpool) - but giving yourself permission to leave early. Like set a time limit to say “I’m going to be there twenty minutes and then I’m out….” I can stay - but after twenty minutes I’m out. I tend to shut down after a certain period of time - it’s good for me to set those limits so i don’t get myself into a situation where I have a breakdown.
    Erin: I know for me - just chitchat - people who want to talk all day long about anything and everything. Constantly talking - whether it’s relevant to the workplace - I find that really draining. I feel like I’m there to do a job - so I focus on the task at hand. I want to spent time on that. Spending time on the chitchat leaves me less energized to do the things I actually want to focus on (work).

    Dr Vinesh Oommen completed a literature review and concluded, “In 90 per cent of the research, the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative, with open-plan offices causing high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and a high staff turnover.” He goes on to note that research shows that influenza virus is more quickly passed as well.
    Open floor plan offices lead to a 66% dip in productivity. And the noise level in an average classroom is associated with permanent hearing damage. Some important—and shocking— stats about the effects of sound.
  • General Mills has a meditation room in every building of company’s Minneapolis campus. - TIME magazine, February 3, 2014, The Mindful Revolution
    Let’s say you’re in an open office floor plan (which I am not - thank god) - which are all the rage these days, despite all the research that says they’re bad for all employees.
    What are some things you can do to replenish that energy, John?
    John: Working from home, definitely. A day or two a week to work in solitude, rethink, synthesize what I learned, what I need to do, etc. does wonders to my productivity and general job/life satisfaction.
    Alisa: at HW we have dedicated areas for ping pong breaks or a nap in the nap room. A walk around the block, or coffee break also helps.
    Erin: I think in talking to clients who are in work settings - stretch, drinking water, taking breaks - changing environments is good, changing the rhythm throughout the day so like the idea of taking a walk - outside or through your building - a client works for a large corporate - she’s in meetings all day long, she’ll take breaks all day long - getting outside is a nice way to shift energy - paying attention to your breath work, which you can do in your cubicle. Stretching, breathing, change of environment, moving your body in different ways. All those things can be helpful.
    Jayna: All those things sound great - again, that I work from home - I can take the dog out for a walk around the block at lunchtime and it makes a big difference, especially if you’re having a rough day - to get outside and get some fresh air, and put some separation between you and your work environment. Even if that’s just me and my computer - but sitting behind a screen and dealing with people - even me being removed physically from the team - your’e still inundated with instant messages or calling or emailing - it’s this constant feeling of being “on”
    Erin: that’s another example - a lot of clients say “I eat lunch at my desk” - but that’s a great time to go to a different place in the building to get out of the environment that you’re in the majority of the day.
  • Has anyone heard of gary cooper?
    Jayna: So this is something I’d actually like to ask you guys - but how to be that strong, quiet, silent type who doesn’t say much, but when they DO say something
    everybody listens. Because I don’t say anything. And then when I do speak up nobody listens, and then they just tell me that I never speak up.
    How do you become that strong silent type - how do you do that? How do you do that so that when you speak, people really sit up and listen? John, how have you handled this?
    John: Like other introverts, I don’t feel the need that I need to speak at every occasion, that I should have something to say, an opinion, for everything. So when it comes time when I feel I have something of value to add, I try state it with conviction, convey a sense of authority even. Slow down my speech -- avoid speaking fast. Nervousness, wavering in your voice can be misconstrued as being unsure, lack of confidence in what you’re saying
    Alisa: I would say be assertive and talk louder than you normally would. Make sure you can back up what you’re saying.
    Erin: Bring attention by shifting that dynamic. Our culture is not comfortable with quiet, not comfortable with pauses. There is value in taking time to process and reflect. Having confidence in your style and trusting your ability to voice your opinion when it matters.
    Jayna: To that point, Erin - this is kind of related - this just happened - i was at the gym - my trainer and the other lady that works out with us - they were both talking about their husbands, and about how their husbands never listen, they never hear anything that have to say. They’re just so horrible and they’re just the worst. Both of them, in past conversations, have mentioned how their husbands are very quiet and very reserved - and all those things - which are introverted qualities. And it’s just struck me - they were saying “well I’ll say something and it’ll take them three minutes before they even respond!” and the other one was saying “yeah my husband is the same way” — well that’s an introverted thing. Because you say something, and then you have to reflect on it before you answer - you can’t just shout something out. And in some of the research i was going - some of the tips suggested having canned responses. Even if you have to think about it - let the other person, especially if it’s an extrovert - know “ I HEARD YOU.” or “I need a minute to think about that” or “that’s interesting, give me some time and I’ll get back to you. “ Some kind of response- because again this is something that I do too. I don’t respond right away. It makes the other person angry because I’m not just giving them an answer. So again, that’s one of those tools that you could have in your toolbox - that when someone asks you a question that you have some sort of answer to give them just to get them off your back - so you have time to think and process to reflect that information.
  • What can managers do to help an introvert really shine - to get the best performance out of them? What kinds of things can you do to make it more of a level playing field for everyone on the team, not just the loudest team members?
    Erin: Managers can get educated. Attend SXSW Introvert Uprising, read Quiet, review the research and learn how to best support introverts in their specific work setting and culture. Learning the strengths and challenges for introverts provides managers with the opportunity to put systems in place that fuel the introverts intellect and creative energy.
    Alisa: Being able to recognize and understand what your team feels comfortable with is important. If you have an introverted team member, help them and praise them privately. Pairing someone up with an extroverted team member could be interesting too. Mentoring opportunities
    John: Echoing a few things I said earlier, be mindful/supportive of the need and benefit of the alone quite time your introvert employees need. Strive for an environment that allows for both solitude spaces (at work or home) and team collaboration/ideation sessions. For the latter, make sure it’s a prepared (i.e. not done on a whim “hey guys! let’s brainstorm!”) exercise with giving people enough prep time for it so they know what to expect/what’ll be expected of them. For extreme cases, start off small. 1:1 sessions. Then build to 2-3 person small groups. Let that person gain the confidence and experience in articulating, communicating with other parties & the flip side, the extraverts experience first hand in the preferred introvert environment, what the person is really capable of, the value he/she brings.
    Jayna: I really love Alisa’s idea of mentoring - that’s something that my friend who brought me into the place where I work right now. He’s EXTREMELY extroverted and he’s kind of taken me under his wing - and when we have meetings and I’m being told I need to speak up more - it’s not my manager. It’s him saying “you didn’t speak very much, you need to talk more” - which is really helpful. You could run the risk of having a mentor who’s totally overbearing and the introvert feels weird, but that 1:1 situation - I know I’m a lot more of a chatterbox around him. But it is helpful.
  • Jayna: Erin, you mentioned you’d met with a friend who administers the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test - a lot of corporations use the test to gather information about their employees, in theory so that the manager can understand more about their personality types, and help to accommodate them.
    There are a couple articles that came out over the last year - one was from Forbes that said we’ve all been duped — that the test is not very accurate, that there’s no reason to do it. Then there was another article that came out from another publication in response to the Forbes article basically saying no we haven’t been duped, it measures things accurately enough. I’ve seen it referred to as a “nonjudgmental indicator” — the whole reason for taking it is so you understand more about yourself and so MANAGEMENT understands more about how to work with you. From my perspective - that’s just giving them justification for them to not give you projects, or to not ask you to lead meetings - that they might be more hesitant to let you do something because of what the results of the test say.
    So Erin, what’s your take on this? Do you think it’s accurate - do you think it’s worthwhile?
    Erin: I think the MBTI serves a purpose in providing people with a snapshot of personality preferences; however, like any test or measure the MBTI has its limitations. MBTI language around leadership tends to promote the stereotype about extroverts being better leaders. Successful leadership is not defined by extroverted traits but rather the way in which the leader knows and utilizes his or her skill sets in the leadership capacity. It has been shown that Introverted Leaders tend to be good listeners who provide their employees with the autonomy to excel in their particular area of expertise. (Great examples of successful leaders who have been classified as introverts include: Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates and Barack Obama)
    John: [comment on dated MBTI language] I wonder if there’s something there about the out-datedness of the MBTI language. As discussed earlier, the MBTI thinking came around when the shift occurred from measuring good qualities in terms of morals and character to ones of popularity, charisma, outgoing-ness. So to that, it would make sense the Myer-Briggs feels the more outgoing extrovert would make a better leader. But to loop back to the original question on usage of justification, I would say it’s short-sighted to be easily dismiss capability & aptitude based on a test. If anything, it should be used as insight to how you set that individual up for success.
  • WSJ article - we should all act like extroverts. what’s the danger of just telling them to do that? wouldn’t that just work out great for everyone? Alisa, what do you think?
    Alisa: You should never “act” like someone else. It would be as if we asked extroverts to write with the opposite hand, it’s not natural.
    John: That’s just absolutely ridiculous. It’s stigmatizing one over the other vs either looking for a middle ground or empowering, playing to real strengths of one type of person vs the other. It’s just absurd & short sighted.
    Erin: In working with clients, primary focus is helping clients increase self-awareness about who they are and helping them engage with others in an authentic way. People who act like someone else, lead to anxiety, no benefit to person or organization
    Jayna: I think we all pretty much agree - there are certain situations that you might find yourself in - like public speaking - where you have to push yourself out of the comfort zone. But I think that’s a bit different than what we were talking about - completely acting unlike yourself. Again, there are ways you can push yourself through something, and you can get through it - but it’s not something you want to do for a prolonged period of time because you can’t sustain it.
    Shouldn’t act like something you’re not, because introverts HAVE strengths and can be a benefit to the workplace...
  • There are lots of advantages to having an introvert on your team:
    They Prepare
    Introverts don’t wing it. They spend time thinking through their goals and preparing for questions, which gives them an edge.
    Think first, talk later.
    Think before speaking. Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully and stop and reflect before responding.
    Learning by listening, not talking.
    Tendency to be more measured with words is a major asset, when no leader can afford to make costly gaffes (think Tim Armstrong calling distressed babies the cause of the change in AOL’s 401k plans)
    They focus on depth.
    Seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep, delving into issue sand ideas before moving on to new ones.
    Drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat
    Know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers.
    They exude calm.
    In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence, and speak softly and slowly regardless of the head of the conversation or circumstances.
    They let their fingers do the talking.
    Prefer writing to talking. The written word helps them better articulate their positions and document their actions.
    Helps them to leverage social networking tools (Twitter, blogging, etc.)
    Rising up and changing the dialog - focusing on the strengths - highlighting those -- knowing how to best utilize those and bring that out of them.
  • What are some things you wish extroverts would understand a little better about those of us with introverted tendencies? Extroverts who don’t understand the way that you work...helping extroverts to understand the way we think and process information?
    Alisa: It takes people time to digest, and we all work in a different pace. It’s also good to give people heads up as to information to be discussed in advance
    John: Patience is key - both in allowing introverts to full investigate and process information and for the extrovert that you may need to slow down the pace and think things thru, go less gut, emotional. And at times, don’t interpret silence as “disagreement” or “misunderstanding” – if anything, the introvert is really thinking and engaged in what is being said
    Erin: It’s as simple as internal vs external. While I need to understand the extrovert’s (i.e. my husband’s) preference for “popcorn processing” I want the extrovert to understand my “slow simmer” preference to process internally before offering my thoughts and opinions. My husband and I have had to work on acknowledging and understanding these different ways of communicating.
    Jayna: At the gym just a few days ago, the trainer and another woman I work out with were both talking about how frustrating it is that their husbands don’t seem to hear what they’re saying because never respond with an answer right away. In both cases they’ve also mentioned that their husbands are more “quiet” and “reserved” -- so it’s very likely that they’d fit on the introvert end of the spectrum. If there were more of an understanding - from both sides - about how different personality types process information, they might be able to improve their communication -- the husbands in this case could simply say “let me think about it” to let their wives (the extroverts) know that they’ve been heard and that they’re processing the information they’ve just received. You could (and should) use the same technique in the workplace to let others know that you ARE paying attention and that you need some time to reflect and process what you’ve just heard.
    We should stop apologizing — we try to preemptively say to people “Oh I’m shy” to excuse the fact that we’re coming across as less exuberant than our extroverted co-workers - which yeah, is most likely because we KNOW they’re going to make some stupid comment about it. You tell them ahead of time so they won’t expect any more from you. We should stop apologizing for who we are, because we’re contributing to this whole misunderstanding. The fact that we’re different than they are and there’s something wrong with that.
    And extroverts, try to stop fixing us! Stop shaming introverts. I get this a lot - I’m paranoid anyway - but “Oh, I’m going to get you out of your shell” — you get made fun of a lot, i know they’re just being playful or trying to make you feel more comfortable (I guess) - but Alisa you mentioned this too - getting praised privately - being called out and singled out - is the least thing that you want to have happen to you. When people make it a point to say in front of everyone how quiet you are - it’s basically doing everything they can to embarrass you. It’s basically saying there’s something wrong with you. And you feel like you need to change or not be authentic to who you are, because who you are is damaged and flawed. That’s what I would say. STOP IT, YOU EXTROVERTS. QUIT IT! It’s not being helpful.
    Be as prepared as possible - like what John said - if you have to stand up in front of a crowd, if you’re prepared it’s not as big of a deal. And you’re totally fine. If you go into a meeting and you know what it’s going to be about, you know the questions that will be asked - you’ve prepared brainstorm ideas. It’ll be a lot less of a big deal than if you’re just put on the spot.
    Communicating and educating the people around you of what you might need.
    There are definite advantages to being an introvert. We can be great leaders, we can be great speakers - and we have a lot of talents and expertise to give.
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