|Publisher:||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
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Read an Excerpt
Finally, the Truth
About Introverts and
"You can observe a lot by watching."
Counter to popular beliefs, introverts do not sit in the dark and just contemplate our existence (well, not all of the time anyway). We manage jobs, families, and all of life's other responsibilities.
Introverts do not, out of necessity, wear black or other fade-into-the-woodwork colors. And we are not boringOK, sometimes we are boring, but so are lots of other people (like some extroverts who love to hear themselves talk). Introverts are not all computer techies and number crunchers either, though we do tend to gravitate toward such careers. Introverts are reflective thinkers and the world's conceptualizers. We focus on analysis and inner communication.
Our ever-evolving society needs a conscious understanding of human beings, their purpose, and how that purpose may be fulfilled. For individuals, this understanding can be achieved through contemplative self-analysis, as part of a personal self-discovery process. We must ask ourselves: "Who am I? What is the goal of my life? What are my unique contributions?" Problems and conflicts (business conflicts included) can open the door to opportunities for growth, increased self-awareness, and positive change. Such an approach to conflict resolution or business-related problem solving, for example, can initially be inner directed. And people committed to inner growth and development readily promote and conductthemselves through positive approaches to their affairs and lives, bringing more order and balance into the environment around them.
But it's also not unusual to find introverts, shy people, and others unaware of their inner strengths. And being self-conscious, introverts sometimes fail to relax, open up, take risks, and truly thrive.
Also, we all have certain fears. "Often fear stands between man and his perfect self-expression. Stage-fright has hampered many a genius," (Shinn 1925). As we overcome fear and lose all of our negative self-consciousness, we become fearless and more confident. Through conscious effort, which will be demonstrated in later chapters, we can train ourselves and practice the act of stepping outside (what we perceive to be) our personal "safety zones."
As more introverted individuals realize their natural strengths, they will expand all areas relating to positive self-development, self-awareness, and thus, those unique contributions.
Expanded inner growth and development will lead to further involvement with new forms of work-related values, and society will benefit from a more innovative and flexible workforce. Thus, people who are highly self-aware have, and can offer to society, a gift.
Introverts, who tend to spend much of their time reflecting on their inner thoughts, often devise new ideas and strategies. (The really lucky ones hire extroverts to carry them out.) And with regular periods of introspection and silent contemplation, people in general may experience less difficulty in maintaining a healthy work and lifestyle pace and balance. It's all about positive-directed awareness, knowing yourself, realizing your individual strengths, setting comfortable goals, being self-confident, acting on your beliefs, andthrough networkingcultivating yourself for success and implementing the goals you set. If you are an introvert, this means cultivating your introverted personality and lifestyle for the success you desire.
Picture yourself strolling along the well-worn path of your life into the woods. The woods are dark, and except for a distant glow of light that comes from a place beyond the trail, you see only images and shadows. The trail has a handrail that you grasp for security.
Grabbing this rail has obvious advantages: You don't get scratched by bushes and brambles, you don't trip on unseen roots and vines, and, above all, you don't get lost in the woods. But staying on the beaten path has a big downside too: You can go only where the trail leads you and the largest part of the forest remains inaccessible. You learn nothing about the lore of the woods, or about survival, by walking a narrow path, and you have little evidence that the path goes anywhere except in a circle.
Every so often the trail washes out. This will happen throughout your life, often in unexpected ways: the loss of a job, a forced relocation, a divorce, a serious illness, a new love, the birth of a child, or sudden and unexpected success. You can't escape stress even when you have been holding onto the rail for dear life.
As you move along the beaten path, you become aware of the rumblings of distant drums calling from mysterious places. Although the darkness looks worrisome, your curiosity and desire beckon you, so you let go of the rail and walk toward a promising new set of experiences.
Like many before you, you let go of the rail with apprehension only to discover that you can see more than before. Because of this, you feel a sensation of giddy liberation. Nonetheless, when you meet your first big challenge, you may feel like a butterfly in a hurricane. You long to return to the security of the well-worn path. Yet by sticking it outlearning to learn, adapting to changeyou empower yourself to go forward.
You break from the rail when you test your skills in different ways. The shy person who (now) socializes develops confidence. The procrastinator who gets organized discovers an inner drive for closure. The impulsive person who learns to reflect develops tolerance. Through this process, you command your finest attributes.
Changing paths involves some risk. The path you are on might be the very place you want to be. The new direction you choose can exclude other opportunities. Yet, when you feel as if you are going around in circles, prudent risks are normally worth taking. There is another reason to break from the rail. Looking back on their lives, most people regret what they did not dare to do more than they regret the errors they made. Those who rarely risk anything have the most to regret. (Knaus 1994)
While out for dinner one evening with a friend, I talked about writing a seminar specifically for introverts. I told her I felt I was the perfect person to write this since I am highly introverted and have long observed that introverts are often overlooked, taken for granted, or undervalued. She looked at me with an astonished expression. Her response was that I could not possibly be an introvert. Why not? Because I had a great sense of humor, and I wore red fingernail polish. "Introverts," she said, "live in basements inventing new computer programs for the destruction of the universe as we know it."
"That," I told her, "is dysfunctionnot introversion." But it did start me thinking. If a really good friend reacted to the news that I was an introvert as if I had told her I had a life-threatening illness, how must the rest of the world view us? This question prompted this introvert to take a closer look at the multifaceted lives of introverts. Case histories from my files showed how some introverts overcame business-related conflicts and challenges in a variety of situations. These successful individuals learned how to change their paths. Built into these case studies is helpful "how-to" advice for introverts. The following chapters include examples of entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and assorted professionalsall introverts who were told they couldn't be fruitful in marketing their services and products.
Louis, for example, who consulted me several years ago, is a very successful surgeon at a premier hospital in New York City. But in his middle age, he found himself feeling hungry. For what? He didn't know! His family and friends were amazed by his professional and personal achievements. What more could he possibly have wanted out of his life? But he really felt that something was missing. He was not fulfilled.
We worked very well together. We knew he was an introvert, but as he completed his assessment and wrote his "autobiography" exercise (see Chapter 8), we discovered that becoming a doctor was not his choice of career. He became a doctor because his mother wanted him to be a doctor! Then she could tell all her friends in the old neighborhood about her son, "the doctor." Classic, but true.
What did Louis really want as a career? Well, from his assessment we acknowledged that he loved film. He loved creating. And he loved getting people to pay attention to his work. Louis wanted to be Steven Spielberg!
Now, Louis could hardly be expected to give up a lucrative medical career to become a top Hollywood producer. How would he continue to pay his mortgage? What to do?
Well, Louis first spoke to people in the film industry. He found that not a lot of people made a great living from it, but they loved what they did.
He then researched production companies that did work in the medical field. He looked into up-and-coming companies involved in animation and found a very successful one in the Midwest. He visited them with his idea, which was to produce films using animation for patients who were about to undergo surgery. Louis wanted to make films that would be fun to watch for people who were apprehensive about what lay ahead. He hired actors who sounded caring and concerned to do voice-overs. And he launched his own company, a company that is still in existence todayand very successful, I might add.
Louis found a niche that combined his technical expertise with his passion for visuals. Throughout this book you will read about such success stories, and learn how you can be successful as well. As Louis went on to develop his flourishing small video company devoted to making innovative and creative films that teach and inform patients about their upcoming surgery, many others have found their calling or a more compatible fitand, for them, a better, more suitable way to live.
Another interesting situation involves the case of lawyers (pardon the pun). Case studies show that many lawyers, although extremely successful in school, find themselves searching for a career change when faced with marketing their new firm and logging billable hours. The law school environment nurtures the introvert. After all, students spend immense portions of their time quietly reading and researching in libraries. But large law firms insist that their senior associates and partners bring in business, creating a kind of schizophrenia for introverted lawyers. Few firms will hire (and keep) a "quiet, reserved" lawyer. A perfect example of this concept is the contrasting styles of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, the flashy extrovert, and prosecuting attorney Christopher Darden, the conservative introvert (I'm making an assumption here for the purpose of showing contrast), during the O. J. Simpson trial.
Steve, a client of mine and an attorney, was forced by his firm to consider a change. He reached a crossroads in his career when he was asked to either become a partner or leave the firm. Steve decided to start his own small law firm.
Steve and the "wanna-be Steven Spielberg" are good examples of how introverts can use their natural talents and assets to establish their desired goals. And with cultivation and a certain amount of risk, you too can experience more fulfillment and achieve greater success.
"We have deep depth."
The year was 1975. Men were in polyester shirts unbuttoned to mid-chest and women were in platform heels and slinky dresses grooving to Donna Summer as a glittering ball revolved above the dance floor like everyone's personal North Star. This was the dawn of the disco era and the image that was (and today, socially, often still is) indelibly engraved said: Life is a party. And the guest lists at these affairs included smiling men and women self-confident enough to get out on the dance floor and "boogie on down." (Carducci and Zimbardo 1995)
But, was this, or is this, the life that everyone lives?
Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? is designed to help the introvert as well as the person who considers himself or herself to be shy. But what's the difference? Well, I could get really psychological about it, but the details would also be confusing, clinical, and boring. That's not what this book is about. But the following little glossary, from Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., one of the authors of the opening passage and an expert on shyness, explains some of the differences:
Extroversion: A personal preference for socially engaging activities and settings.
Introversion: A personal preference for solitary, nonsocial activities and settings.
Shy Extrovert: A person who performs well socially but experiences painful thoughts and feelings (Henderson and Zimbardo 1998).
Metaphorically, shyness is a shrinking back from life that weakens the bonds of human connection.
In his bestselling book, Shyness, Zimbardo describes a shy person as someone who is "inhibited from acting because of inner commands: 'You'll look ridiculous; people will laugh at you; this is not the place to do that; I won't allow you the liberty to be spontaneous; do not raise your hand, volunteer, dance, sing or make yourself obvious; you'll be safe only if you're not seen and not heard.' And the prisoner-within decides not to risk the 'dangerous' freedom of spontaneous life, and meekly complies" (1977, 3).
In a conversation I had with Dr. Zimbardo in 1996 concerning the distinction between shyness and introversion, he told me, "Shyness adds to anxiety. Shy people want to be with others, but can't. Introverts, on the other hand, may have anxieties, but not necessarily as a result of their introversion. And a distinctive difference between shyness and introversion is that introversion is a conscious choice." Research has distinguished shyness from introversion, although they are typically related. Introverts simply prefer solitary to social activities (but do not fear social encounters as do the shy), while extroverts prefer social to solitary activities. Although the majority of people that are shy are introverted, shy extroverts are found in many behavioral settings. They are privately shy and publicly outgoing. They have the requisite social skills and can carry them out flawlessly in highly structured, scripted situations where everyone is playing prescribed roles and there is little room for spontaneity.
However, for the purpose of encouraging you to experience the networking process, I am treating introverts, shy folks, and shy extroverts equally. (I am focusing on being an equal opportunity writer!)
Why is it important to focus on introverts and shy people at all? Because Carducci and Zimbardo (1995) revealed that 40 percent of 800 American college students surveyed classified themselves as shy. The incidence of shyness in the United States may now be as high as 48 percentand rising. According to Carducci and Zimbardo, this is partly due to the increased U.S. populations of traditionally modest cultures that condone more shy types of behavior.
As mentioned, many people can be assessed as extroverts but consider themselves truly shy. They have learned how to behave as if they are outgoing, but this does not change their inner selves. These shy extroverts may have double personas. In public, they don't appear to be shy at all and can function quite well sociallybut privately they are suffering, because they think a bunch of nonpositive things about themselves.
On the other hand, an introvert is an introvert is an introvert. Introverts can be extroverts when necessary, but the type remains consistent. An analogy to this is hair texture. The hair we're born with can be a shade of brown or blond. Or it can be a hue of red or almost black. It can be thick or thin and straight, curly, or kinky. The basic characteristics of our hair do not change, but we can alter its appearance. That becomes our choice. And an introvert can make a choice to behave like an extrovert.
Many celebrities and stand-up comedians in the entertainment industry are shy but adopt public personas. And although being shy can run the gamut from discomfort at a cocktail party to agoraphobia, in business, it is never good to be shy. Shyness in business is always negative. People who are introverted, however, often function well in the extroverted business environment because they can work at being extroverted when the situation calls for it. It is reported that talkshow host David Letterman, comedian Carol Burnett, and even television reporter Barbara Walters, areyou guessed itshy extroverts. Shy extroverts in other careers, like educators and even politicians, have learned to act unreserved and unrestrained as long as they remain in their controlled environment. All types of shy people, however, share a common denominator: they are acutely self-conscious.
So, though introverts can, in certain circumstances, comfortably function, they should beware of situations in which they are competing with a particularly vivacious extrovert. The introverted tendency may be to sit back and allow the extrovert to openly rejoice and prevail. Extroverts assert and freely express themselveswithout even tryingin all situations. Such was the case when I was the keynote speaker at an early morning conference in the fall of 1996.
A woman introduced herself to me and handed me her card. She told me who she was, what industry she was in (publishing), how she happened to be at this particular conference, how many grown children she had, what career each of them was in, how she had managed to take the morning off to attend this conference, and what she perceived was wrong with her particular industry. It was only 8 A.M. and I was trying to review my notes and find some coffee. During our conversation, since she was in the publishing industry, I told her about the book I was writing on introversion. "But you're not an introvert," she said. "Oh, but I am," said I. (Here we go again!) "But," she asked, "we've been talking all this timehow could you possibly be an introvert?"
Well, we had not been talking all this timeshe had been talking all this time. She was unaware that she had given me far more information concerning her life than I needed to knowand I, in true introverted fashion, had given her absolutely no information about mine. And her perception of an introvert was skewed toward someone who is very shy.
But had this been an interview, and she'd been the interviewer and I the interviewee, I would not have scored any points with her at all; after she had a chance to think about our meeting, she would not have had any sense about who I was, or what my thoughts were. Also, again in true introverted style, I might have been so delighted that she was doing all of the talking, I could have allowed her to go on and on and on while I imaginatively took a swim in the soothing emerald-colored waters of Tahiti. In another scenario, if this lively extrovert and I were interviewing for the same job, I could, again, by comparison, have been perceived as the less appealing candidateby not offering the interviewer enough information about myself and not giving enough of myself for them to "like" me (and choose me). These two types of interview situations can be extremely detrimental for the introvert who is unaware.
Early Lives of Introverts
Looking back, many of us who consider ourselves introverts were probably considered shy as children. Although many children lose their shyness in time, others remain shy all their lives. And for a youngster who is shy, something like the first day of school, for example, can be extremely traumatic.
Do you remember the days when you had to be forced to go out to playyou did your homework first, then read or watched TV, and then maybe joined your friends? Introverts who never progress beyond this stagewho don't become more socially acclimatedare bound to have problems interacting with others as an adult.
When I was a practicing school psychologist, I often did research on separation anxiety in young children. The first day of school was always problematic for young children (especially four- and five-year-olds) who had difficulty leaving their parents. Many times the parents (usually the mothers) felt as guilty for leaving their children as the children were terrified of letting go. One of the ways to solve the battle of children being able to leave parents, and vice versa, was to invite new students into the school a few days before the official school opening in September. The children were able to meet with their teachers, explore the new environment, play with the toys, learn the location of the bathrooms, the kitchen, the bus stop, the music room, and so on. Thus, when school began, they were entering a familiar place, rather than a seemingly hostile and frightening environment.
We can apply this solution in our adult lives. Some introverts hate to traveleither to another corporate site within the city or across the world. Why? Traveling involves new business environments, new people, new conference rooms. It helps to bring a familiar picture of your family or friends from your office to place in your hotel room, just as you brought your favorite teddy bear to school. Or bring your favorite teddy bear! Listen, whatever worksI won't tell! If there is time (which there rarely is), first drive past the site where you will be meeting. Try to become as familiar as you can with the new environment.
Remember Psychology 101? Childhood is when we all begin to learn to negotiate: Who goes first? Was Julie out or safe at first base? Whose doll is that? Will you help me build castles in the sandbox? and so forth and so on. Whether shy or introverted, if you had problems within these early play groups, it's going to be tough for you to function on the job. Organizations function very much like your early play groups. There are always those chosen to be leadersand then there's everyone else. Many millions of dollars are spent by companies to develop leaders. The extroverts will be out there throwing sand at you and moving ahead. They will be labeled as "high potentials." But quietly, in your own introverted style, you too can become a leader.
Shyness and the Many, Many Social Scenes of Adulthood
A shy person who is invited to a party tends to respond with apprehension. Chances are, you won't see them confidently "getting down" on the sparkling and enchanting dance floor. The shy person typically thinks, "I can't go. I don't know what to wear. I can't dance. People will stare at me." Shyness in its extreme sense can cause excessive fear and anxietyand shy people may adopt especially unhealthy responses, such as excessive drinking, to alleviate or mask their uneasiness.
When a shy person is invited to speak at a meeting, to give a presentation, to be noticed or to gain exposure, these same anxieties may arise. Many clients have asked me, in all seriousness, if they should have a drink before going on an important interview. As destructive as that may sound, the client is entertaining the idea that it would be better to be more relaxed than to have all their faculties available. Of course the answer is "No, no, no!" This is where shyness can present even more difficulties.
If you consider my earlier premise about public and private personas, you will see that many entertainers are basically shy and cannot interact with people unless they are in the spotlight or have a script to follow. And some do latch on to the escapist route of excessive drinking and drugs, for various reasons. The anxiety of being constantly in the public eye, though, can be one contributing factor to some of the abusive lifestyles we all hear about in show business.
Most introverts do not believe people are going to laugh at them at a party, nor do they have major anxiety attacks about meeting the public. But they'd probably prefer to stay home and watch Oprah or ERnot to mention those old classic movies or more recent television reruns. The operative word here is choice. Introversion can be a preferred form of behavior.
Table of Contents
|1 Finally, the Truth About Introverts and Their Power||1|
|2 The Difference Between Introversion and Shyness||9|
|3 Who Are You? A Profile to Help Determine Whether You Are|
|4 Networking: A Matter of Asking for Information||29|
|5 Case Studies: Up Close and Personal||39|
|6 Managing Introverts||79|
|8 Networking Exercises||133|
|9 Network Management||143|
|10 The Great Job Search||163|
|11 Introversion and Cultural Diversity||191|
|12 Gender: Can Real Men Be Introverts?||201|
|13 Tying It All Together||219|