Earlier this month, I attended the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon (definition: a gathering of amazing people who are going to impact the world in meaningful ways) and guess who was one of the speakers?
Yep, author of QUIET, Susan Cain. And while her talk was mostly focused on building workplace relationships between introverts and extroverts, one point that she made was extremely good.
Introverts have good ideas.
And we introverts are like, duh, it’s about time someone caught on. It’s not like we’ve exactly been hiding this news.
Really? Wouldn’t you say it was more difficult to speak up in a meeting as an introvert than as an extrovert? In the very few (thank goodness) meetings I’ve had to endure in my working life, you couldn’t have gotten me to speak up under threat of death. Seriously. I just shut up.
And it hurt my career. In many ways.
Susan Cain pointed out that managers should be aware that introverts often have ideas that they prefer to share privately after the meeting is over and that managers should be sensitive to this.
I go further and say that introverts should take control of this and approach their managers. Anathema! I can hear the introverts rising up to call me out.
Sure, sometimes it doesn’t work. I know. I sent endless memos to my boss and my boss’s boss before meetings and they were routinely ignored. I had to wing it (hard to do on the phone while I was in the United States talking to my colleagues in London), and it didn’t work out all the time. It was me having to push back, and I hated the feeling.
So, I heard Susan Cain call for managers to be aware of this and I laughed to myself, picturing my past managers and how they would never have stood for listening to an introvert.
Woe to them. They wasted millions of dollars on a project that went nowhere. What if I had ideas that could have saved the project, saved a couple million, made life easier for everyone?
But no. I was an introvert and they didn’t want to know. Boo on them.
Luckily, I made it out of the doomsday gray cubicle world in 2009 (I telecommuted most of the time anyway, but those occasional visits to the London office were pure torture for me) and I realize years later that I would have to change my nature to survive in that job.
Susan Cain’s ideas are going to shake up the business world. Some may go for it; the majority will not. That’s not the idea Susan is trying to communicate, however. Her goal is for introverts to recognize their power. To recognize that they have good, even great ideas.
If that is what we accomplish, I think that’s really awesome.
So introverts, far and wide, listen up!