Myths about Introverts

ImageYou may have read my previous post on the Social Bully of Retention Plans, on the discussion of introverts and extroverts at social gatherings at the office. I received some very interesting replies, including a couple personal emails from bloggers who seemed to want to tell me, “how it really is”. One of my very good friends is an extrovert, we do a lot together both in the community and at home watching movies. When we are together, it is very difficult to tell who is the introvert and who is the extrovert because of our flexible and accommodating personalities. There are myths that introverts are “missing out”, “don’t know how to have fun”, are “cold” and “antisocial”, lack creativity, are shy, don’t like people, don’t like to talk, are only “book smart”, and more…. these are simply not true. All of these traits have no preference for personality, they can belong to anyone. Discerning the difference between the two is not as simple as outgoing and shy. There are many misconceptions between these two personalities, and unfortunately, because extroverts make up 70% and more of the population, introverts have been labeled unjustly. This post is intended to clarify the personalities in a positive light, and give more background information on why introverts should be valued in the workplace, not shamed, but encouraged to be themselves- just as extroverts are.

Myth #1) Introverts are Shy. Shyness implies a fear of social interaction- introverts are not any more afraid of people than extroverts. When I worked for a large IT company, there were mass company events, or “social gatherings” rather, once a week. The Director of Events would speak in front of aproximately 2,000 people and more over the course of the day with a team moral booster speech, act as MC, and so forth… And every morning, he would put anti-anxiety pills in his coffee about 20minutes before going on. He was an extrovert, and he could barely speak in front of a crowd without his meds. Shyness is unique to the person, not the intro-extro personality.

Myth #2) Introverts don’t have fun. I would be very interested to know what group of introverts came forward with this information. Introverts go paintballing, are horse enthusiasts, do extreme sports, belong to clubs, go to concerts, and take the train to work just like anyone else. Just like extroverts, there are high energy individuals and low energy individuals. Some introverts don’t like the outdoors, but like cooking instead- others thrive when mountain climbing but don’t like books. Introverts make their fun how it meets their own needs and what is good for them. Which leads me to the next myth, that introverts can change to be like extroverts- and it would be better for them.

Myth #3) Introverts can change to be like extroverts- and it would be better for them. Introverts cannot change, just as extroverts cannot change. Depending on the field of work that each goes into- they may adopt traits that assist them in their environment. Even more so if the individual is passionate about their line of work, and has a dynamic character. In this instance a strong introvert can be an Event Planner, and a strong extrovert can be a Librarian. Although it is a tad unusual for these, as the majority ┬ádominates the opposite personality, it is not unheard of, and will not hinder the personality’s success. If introverts are forced, coerced, or made to believe they “must be an extrovert”, it can take a severe toll on them expending more of their energy, kind of like a jaguar pretending to be a dove all day- it’s just harder. This may be why some people think introverts tire out more easily or are extra quiet- it could just be because they have used up all their energy sporting their extrovert skills.

Myth #4) Introverts make poor managers and don’t connect with employees. False. Introverts in the office are typically in the “know” for the office pulse, but tend to fly beneath the radar undetected. No doubt that extroverts make a point of their presence being noticed- however introverts as managers sport a reliable, trustworthy open door policy, as opposed to a fluttering social butterfly get around. For professionals that have worked into middle-but for sure upper and senior management, they can attest that the differences between intro-extro at these levels become very difficult to spot. This is because a good manager climbing the ranks typically has to have a dynamic personality and character to effectively manage a diverse group of individuals. A tunnel extrovert cannot manage an introvert, and a tunnel introvert cannot manage an extrovert. Either/or, the fact remains that the stats flip for management- upper management is made up of 70% introverts > this says a lot. Introverts are more sensitive to employee relations and culture which makes them valued managers. This is primarily due to the more easy going nature of introverts who enjoy exploring different types of stimulus at varying degrees as opposed to a lot of stimulus at one degree all at once.

introvertMyth #5) Introverts only want to be alone. Believe it or not, just like extroverts- there are “world class introverts” just like “world class extroverts”. There are different sub-levels and degrees of each, kind of like the difference between being outgoing and obnoxious. There are world class introverts (kind of like myself) that can go days without being in touch with the rest of the world, even without a phone or computer. Sometimes I just really enjoy reading, writing, contemplating, and being creative on my own for a bit. Usually I want to share this with someone when I’m done my time alone, and I love sharing with other introverts who do the same thing. But believe me, not all introverts like to be alone. There are a lot who enjoy talking and sharing regularly throughout their day. Typically though, introverts prefer groups of 1-3 of close friends who they have sincere, close relationships and connections with as opposed to 5-8 people (again- notice the increase in stimulus) when together at once. It’s not that they want to be alone- it’s that they require lesser stimulus overall. Introverts get lonely for company and relationships just like anyone else.

Myth #6) Introverts are not creative. A lot of this stems from the myth about introverts having their noses in books, and being quiet all the time. Introverts can be very creative, in fact, there is not a statistic that can tell you who is more creative. Each personality enjoys art, music, food, languages, culture, and everything in between. Each personality expresses their creativity differently- writing, reading, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, designing a web page, marketing, blogging, social networking, public speaking, community networking, and the lot to follow.

I hope this helps you in your journey with understanding the differences, and how to positively work with, and understand introverts. Perhaps even for some of you (30%) you recognize yourself, and can see the qualities.

Happy Office Politics.

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What the New Interviews say about You

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In an earlier post, I had discussed psychometrics as a new interview technique. There are more arising, especially as you increase your salary from $70k+. The interviews are not only increasingly complex, but they are designed to reveal true character. Not best character. True character.

While I had coffee with a community network of mine, he expressed to me the importance of character. This, I understand. He began telling me how he asks applicant’s how many books a year they read, what their favorite genre is, how many books they own, what kind of music they like, what their favorite cuisine is, how often do they cook, what languages can they speak, and what ones have they adopted* even if they don’t speak fluently.

“It’s all about being learned. People so often attain a degree and skip the masters only because they can’t see themselves using the masters. Not because it’s not useful- just because they don’t see it in their immediate future. And unless they have a crystal ball- that masters could have landed them a resource and know-how to get the job of their dreams. But they’ll never know.” THIS was in reference to everything- food, languages, books, and so much more. I shared with him how as a BSW, we are trained that you ask someone about where they grew up or how close they are to their immediate family. How people describe their childhood community, and refer to their parents always reveals the truth of their values, character, and relationship skills. For about an hour, we chatted about environments and the new techniques. It was nice to share with someone and learn in return what tactics are being used in the recent search for the $70k jobs. Candidates not only reflect culture, but they need to reflect the ability to learn the culture. Let’s face it, learning one culture could be more difficult than another. It is important to know which ones, and also to know how to be humble and accept the teacher/student cycle.

The final technique? Let me take you out for dinner. A final stage interview has been completed, and the boss asks you to join him for dinner to celebrate before the papers are signed. This seems pretty final right? Wrong. The boss has arranged your dinner to be messed up with the kitchen staff and carefully guages your reaction. How do you handle it? -are you upset, angry, nervous, care free, compassionate, who cares?-I’m willing to try something new, gossipy, vengeful, raging, laugh it off, and so forth. Admittedly after writing this, you can read it and attempt to predetermine your fate by deciding on a course of action now. I will tell you that the real you will reveal itself some way. It’s best to understand why your true character would react this way, and resolve it.

Happy Hunting!

Why Psychometrics is Driving Us cRAzY

The latest HR trend is using psychometrics testing. Oh no. This as bad as telling a racial minority to look “less coloured”. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Psychometrics is a variety of tests performed to evaluate the competency of an applicant or employee. It involves tests such as knowledge tests, personality traits, educational assessments, and personality assessments. Let’s examine why this is a great idea, and why it will prove majority wrong in most evaluations.

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1) It’s based off of psychology. There’s our first problem. Psychology is the study of the brain, cognitive ability, and circumstance that make the brain respond and react in different ways. Ultimately, it is the science of the brain. This is why if you want a good counselor, you avoid psychology majors at all costs. Why? Because psychology major’s use a lot of branding terms, and are very diagnoses driven. Without a diagnoses, a psych major is mostly useless at their job. So in a counseling session, they will want to do genograms, discuss your childhood, and want you to talk about your past trauma. This can be very dangerous. It’s great for the psych major because they are trained they need this information in order to calculate a diagnoses, however there are many other ways of uncovering why a person behaves a certain way without bringing up trauma for them. This is why the best counselors, therapists, and workers are always Social Workers. Once you complete your C-6 training, you can do anything. Why? Because they teach you more about circumstance and how you can outrun your genetics, and your past does not necessarily determine a one way ticket in your future. They are also more focused on problem solving and lateral thinking as opposed to linear thinking and hard evidence.

2) It’s HR using assessment tools. Oh no. Would you give your copy repair guy some lessons in assessment and then let them hire and fire in your agency? No. HR education is so conveniently wrapped around administrative work, they can learn all they want about assessment, however unless they know their strengths themselves, have been through counseling and worked on themselves, overcome their personal issues, and have a developed sense of empathy and compassion. This is like giving a banana milk shake maker to a clan of monkeys. It’s gonna get used and abused. This power can go to your head pretty quick. So who is counseling them on using this, keeping them accountable, and making sure they are not using these skills for their own agenda?

3) It’s not reliable. Personality testing and knowledge testing is hugely complex. It’s possible for someone to get a low score on an IQ test, and yet be brilliant. So much is culture specific, experience specific, and of course encompassing both of those- what information has made itself available to them. Furthermore, personality testing is not necessarily going to reveal to me if an applicant is drugging, heavy alcoholing, has anger issues, draws out complex pathology, etc… It’s just going to tell me if they’re an introvert, extrovert, aggressive, passive, creative, high achiever, low achiever, etc…. It’s kind of like a glamorous cosmo quiz for employees.

4) It’s online. The majority of testing is online. Especially for large organizations such as the Fairmont or RBC. We all know how accurate computer testing is. I adore what a special bond my computer and I have, and how I have a limited number of answers, none of which encompass my true personality. It’s just so much more fun that way.

I would take my final example from Frobes who recently published an article on hiring NCO’s over anyone else. I would agree. Next time hire the war studies major. They will be devoted, loyal, goal oriented, and will cut through all the personality nonsense like a crew cut.

Want good psychometrics?- Make sure your HR has some experience managing crazy. That’ll do it.