If we look back through history, there are many instances of introverts who were, in fact, some of the world's greatest and transformative leaders; Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Gandhi first come to mind. "All of them were more focused on their causes than on their egos. It is a fact that many of the most spectacularly creative people across a broad variety of fields have been quiet types who enjoyed solitude, from Frédéric Chopin to Charles Darwin," says author Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That can't Stop Talking."
Instead of worry about being too introverted, Ms. Cain suggests that we should worry about our culture not being introverted enough. In the 21st Century, everything is blathered about loudly on social media. "In today's overscheduled, hyperactive society, we celebrate the alpha approach (consider the rise of reality TV stars, for example) and dramatically undervalue the quieter aspects of our natures—which, by the way, even the most gregarious of us possess." If you'd like to know what Ms. Cain's tips are for channeling your quieter, introverted self or how to use your quiet skills to become more powerful, then read on.
1. Talk deeply. There's a great deal of chitchat happening these days but what we're missing is meaningful conversation. Introverts often find chit chat overstimulating because it requires the participants to be able to jump from one subject to another very quickly. "They seek out deep, serious conversations in which they can focus on a single topic of mutual interest. Follow their lead. A study by University of Arizona psychologist Matthias Mehl, Ph.D, found that the happiest people have twice as many substantive conversations as the unhappiest and participate in far less small talk."
2. Work alone. "I don't believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee," says Steve Wozniak, the introverted co-founder of the Apple Computer. The advice sounds unconventional, but scientists are beginning to recognize that solitude is a catalyst for expert performance. if you want to improve what you're doing, working alone, at least part of the time, can help you make headway on the problems you find most challenging.
3. Read more. "Science tells us that social connections make us happier and healthier, and science is right. But there are different kinds of social connection. Reading, for instance, can be a deeply social act, putting you inside other people's minds. The introverted writer Marcel Proust called reading "that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude." And studies suggest that reading makes people more empathetic and improves social skills by helping us better understand our fellow humans."
4. Listen well. Listening is an underrated skill to have. many of the most respected leaders in their fields are those who listen to their colleagues and subordinates. "New research by Wharton professor Dr. Adam Grant and his colleagues has revealed that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts because they're more likely to consider other people's suggestions." Introverted leaders often allow their subordinates to take the initiative.
5. Get away, small scale. Extroverts might not crave refuge as strongly as introverts do, but in an overstimulating world, it's good to find what psychology professor Dr. Brian Little calls "restorative niches" to clear your mind. These mini-breaks help you relax so you can gain access to your deeper feelings and insights. Use your quiet time to recharge your battery!
6. Use quiet commitment to achieve your goals. "Many introverts use a form of power so subtle that power almost seems the wrong word. Instead of taking strong stands in a loud voice, they make insightful suggestions in a gentle tone. Instead of holding forth at a meeting, they make alliances behind the scenes."
Teddy Roosevelt famously said, "Talk softly and carry a big stick." And while I don't recommend carrying the big stick, what Teddy said makes sense. If it were up to me, I'd reword his famous saying to, "Talking softly carries a lot of clout."
So whether or not you're an introvert or an extrovert, these tips can help you get ahead in life. And none of them includes intimidation or bullying. I'm sure you've noticed that those who use a calm but persuasive tone of voice in difficult situations generally get what they want with less trouble and certainly with more respected than those who insist upon pitching a fit. No one likes to be yelled at. Cool and calm, slow and steady wins out in the end.
Were these tips helpful to you? I hope so! As for myself, I can either be too loud and pushy or not loud enough. With these tips and a little self-discipline, I know I can be more powerful while at the same time being less aggressive. Aggressiveness is such a turn off, don't you think?
Please "hop" back by tomorrow for a few tips on becoming an everyday hero. And, Boy Howdy! can't we use a lot more of them? Until next time, I wish you