How Introverts Can Get the Credit, Pay, and Career They Deserve

The Social Capitalist is sponsored programming of myGreenlight, the only comprehensive on-line learning platform for critical relationship development skills. The interactive interview series is dedicated to delivering in depth discussion on relationship science with the best and brightest thought leaders in business and academia. Tahl recently interviewed author and business communication coach Nancy Ancowitz. Here are his takeaways from the interview. Click here for the interview’s audio recording and here for the transcript.

I would hide in the bathroom at my own parties. That’s right, hide. A hundred or more people would be loudly mingling right outside the bathroom door – people, mind you, that me and my employees had invited -  and I’d be watching the minutes go by in the solitude of the loo, trying to gauge how long I could stay; where, exactly, was the temporal line between “where’s Tahl?” and “this is getting really weird?”

It was the first business I started, and back then, I still bought into the nearly-pervasive model of leadership that prizes big personalities: those socially assertive charismatics, bold and energized in large crowds. That wasn’t me, but I was trying to fake it. I’d find myself exhausted by these parties and other high octane social situations, needing every so often to slip away and recharge in a bathroom or outside for 10 to 15 minutes. In college, I actually started smoking because it provided a plausible rationale for these mid-soiree Houdini acts.

Apparently, and to my great relief, I’m far from alone, according to a slate of new research, a new cover story in Time, and a just published book called, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. As Quiet describes us: “They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society — from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.”

Much of this latest new information on the extrovert/introvert divide upturns that old model of leadership and uncovers the hitherto unknown virtues of introversion (and the potential pitfalls of its loud twin). As the Time article put it:

Extroverts are more likely than introverts to be hospitalized as the result of an injury, for example, and they’re more likely to have affairs or change…relationships frequently, with all the collateral damage that can entail. And while we all seek rewards, extroverts may be too hungry for them. That…can lead them to be ambitious, which is fine, but it may also make them prioritize ambition over avoiding serious risks, which is not…[Introverts] ability to assess risk and remain focused on the long term can, [on the other hand], pay off big…So can the capacity for listening…

Now that us introverts can begin to proudly step out of the bathroom — when we’re ready, of course, and preferably into a quiet small-group setting — there’s still the issue of how anyone in our organizations and industries will learn just how much we can bring to the table. Getting ahead without getting known, however, remains a big obstacle, which is why for the Social Capitalist Skill sessions we sought out Nancy Ancowitz, a business communication coach and author of, Self-Promotion for Introverts.

My name is Tahl, and I’m an introvert. And after a little coaching from Nancy, I know how to make the best of that situation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a bit of a solitary break from you people. Enjoy the interview.

Comments (8)

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  4. A welcome read! After years in the creative industry – often with little recognition of my true abilities – I have moved into the non-profit sector.

    The written word is the introvert’s best friend. I, like many introverts, have embraced the power of blogs and social media to establish a presence in my new field.

    I wish books on this topic had been available 25 years ago, as I’m certain it would have made life and career much easier and more lucrative.

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  8. Nicely said!
    I’ve just started to read Susan’s book; I have it next to me right now. I finished “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength”, by Laurie Helgoe. That’s also a great addition to any introvert’s bookshelf.

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