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.

Advertisements

The “Let’s Catch You” Interview

ImageI had a great learning experience last month I kept on meaning to write about. I was on the other side of the table as the “interviewee”. Not totally foreign territory, especially since I do primarily contract work in change management, system overhaul, risk assessment, and policy development, for anywhere between 2weeks-2years for a single company, nevermind the policy writing and training seminars I hold on the side. However, a lot of my work has me by recommendation so the interview process is very lax and usually involves a CAO/CSO, Director, and possibly a senior management personnel or the former HR (yes, the one who either quit or was let go), and myself having lunch or a brief meeting on what my proposal for the company is, and how we can tailor it specifically for their needs. This interview however was just stellar.

I met with the CAO, and the HR Director. Originally it appeared to be laid back, however the questions were so broad and general, and yet they sought such specific details, it kind of threw me for a loop-but in a good way. The questions were designed to see if you were telling the truth. Bravo! Questions such as, What do you think your day would look like? (as opposed to, list some of your typical tasks) How do you think managing employees would be best here? (as opposed to, what’s you’re management style) What kind of retention programs would you like to implement? (as opposed to, how do you earn the trust and build relationships to keep employees) What do you think it would be like to coach our team of Executives and Floor Manufacturers? (as opposed to, how do you build relationships with people), etc…. And then mid interview they expressed that they would give me an opportunity to ask questions now, but not at the end. Huh. Interesting….. I realized they give no room for error. How great is that! It allows basic human error, as people are supposed to have nervous reactions to stressors, however it makes it much harder to bluff your way through basic tasks and responsibilities that you should already know about. I must say, this is my new favorite interview technique! Good on them!

As it was, congratulations are present, as I was offered the job. After pulling their files on interviews, I have no idea who their former trainer and change manager was, but they were a genius! The questions and programs are a goldmine. I wish more people took this initiative in their career!

What the New Interviews say about You

0910-woman-drinking-wine

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!

5 Reasons Your Family Doesn’t Like You

Signs you and your family might be working for different intelligence agencies.

  1. You’re Successful- Let’s be honest. Family is the pack of dogs you run with. If you do better than your pack leader, you are a direct threat. Your family may want the best for you- as long as it is not better than them. Be careful how much you brag about your success, or how many holidays or time off you are reporting to your family. Sparks of jealousy may fly. Why can “someone like you” do better than them?You May Want to Watch Yourself
  2. You’re Different- Whether you chose to not take the torch of the family business, married outside tradition or acquired a lifestyle in the city- sometimes being different is like red on the wall to family. A common family game is to blame the black sheep. We have all heard the expressions “golden haired child” and “black sheep”, you could be labeled on what you identify with as personal growth and professional development but your family may label rebellion. Your difference may translate to their blame.
  3. You Belong to a Different Social Circle- Sometimes we think of social circles as money and business. The fact is your social circle could be religion, hobby and trend oriented, or geographically impacted. Your social circle could be the democratic gun club, or the Jewish Justice Society- the point is it’s different and probably uncomfortable for your family. Often when people can’t relate, they criticize or ostracize you. It’s not a matter of fault on your part, we just need to figure things out for ourselves. Sometimes we grow outside our families and that’s okay, and sometimes best.
  4. You Have a Developed Sense of Morality and Ethics- Dear God, it’s me Jane.
    So you found religion, mazletov. You were given the ethics achievement award at work. Nice. However with all the dysfunction that runs in families (biological, adopted and created) developing a higher sense of morals and ethics will put a stop to toxic behavior and your family will be forced to find other means of communicating and bonding. Let’s face it, it was easier in high school to bond while making fun of something else or another social group. But when you understand that is wrong and stop the behavior it forces people to think deeper and actually put effort into getting to know you and developing a relationship. It also makes them aware of their bad behaviour and now they are accountable to correct it. And believe me, most people do not want to do that. Let me put this way, think of Buddha, Gandhi and Mother Teresa as political figures. They weren’t just enlightened for themselves, they were actually acting as great political and social strategists to rid toxicity from everyday living. It’s a rough road.
  5. You Have Money- Money does not always come with a successful job, wealthy partner or family. Sometimes you hit the jackpot at work when you realize that working as a bartender or doorman on Saturday nights at the hottest club in town is one weeks wages in one night. Maybe the little old neighbor you read to everyday after school for three years left you in their will, or maybe you won the lottery. Whatever it is, people are jealous for money. There’s nothing that eases cares faster than hard cash- especially if you have come across it without obligation. Keep your money matters to yourself. It’s fine if you want to spoil your family and buy Mum some flowers and a new wardrobe but maybe play down how it’s done. Instead of jumping into a room of gold dubloons like Donald Duck. Maybe just say, “Hey Mum, next week a big deal is going through and I wanted to take you to lunch. Maybe we can go shopping after?” Your Mum will put it together after enough time, but your whole family doesn’t have to know or else it’s you against that pack of dogs.