Category Archives: introversion

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Episode 010: Janine Rowe–Neurodiversity, Career Counseling, and Finding Your Niche

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,personality,Podcast

Episode 010: Janine Rowe–Neurodiversity, Career Counseling, and Finding Your Niche Show Notes

Introduction

Janine Rowe and Ben Woelk discuss neurodiversity and career counseling, MBTI, career choice and finding your niche, and presentations. 

Key concepts

  • Neurodiversity
  • MBTI
  • Preparing for presentations

Quotable

Neurodiverse students and diverse individuals–that really refers to individuals who have some variance in how they learn and think about the world…So what we’re finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace

As an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply.

It was very important to me to pick a career where my listening abilities, which is something that just comes naturally to me, that I would be able to use that as a primary skill set that I use every single day, and it’s really a key to being able to do my job well.

(Speaking about presentations) So for me, listening to music through headphones is very important in terms of preparation and I think it serves a couple of purposes for me. One, is so that I can control some of the sensory input that I’m getting, and just drown out what I don’t want. And it helps kind of manage some of my nervous energy, so I like to listen to something that I know very well–something I know by heart. So I also don’t get overstimulated from that as well.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Janine Rowe. Janine is a career counselor at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she provides guidance to students on identifying educational career and life plans that suit their interests and goals. Janine is also a counselor, educator and supervisor, author, and advocate for the advancement of neurodiverse individuals in the workplace. She has an M.S. Ed. In counselor education from the College at Brockport, SUNY, and is a certified MBTI practitioner. You can contact Janine at Janine.Rowe@rit.edu. Janine and I are colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Janine was a contributor to the February 2017 issue of Intercom magazine where she wrote the “Intersection of ASD and Technical Communication,” where she interviewed technical communication practitioners who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Ben: Hi Janine. Welcome to the podcast. Let’s talk about your role as a career counselor at RIT, and I’d like to know more about how you advocate for the advancement of neurodiverse individuals and what that actually means.

Janine:Thank you, Ben, for having me. Happy to be here. My role here at RIT is primarily to meet with students one-on-one and help them explore a lot of facets about themselves that go into making an informed educational choice and career choice. So it really has a lot to do with encouraging self awareness and self exploration and connecting that with information about the world of work. And in doing that, I have found I’m kind of in a niche area. And working with the neurodiverse students and diverse individuals–that really refers to individuals who have some variance in how they learn and think about the world, and primarily that’s our students who are on the autism spectrum, but also includes individuals with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and other related disorders. So what we’re finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace. But unfortunately, what was happening is when they’re going–competing against their peers, they didn’t have as much success as their neuro-typical peers or individuals who are not on the autism spectrum. And so a lot of my work is helping people who are in the position to make hiring decisions and make promotional decisions on behalf of these individuals. They really understand the unique contributions that neurodiverse employees can make in the workplace.

What we're finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace. @JanineMRowe Click To Tweet

Ben: Now, is that just something that is specific to RIT or is this something we’re starting to see more of across higher education?

Janine: That’s a great question. It certainly was born out of the need to work with the individuals that were already here at RIT who are neurodiverse. And since we’ve been doing that, we get quite a lot of questions from individuals in the community, from employers from all around the world really, who want to know more about neurodiverse hiring. So it’s been very rewarding.

Ben: That’s really interesting. So what is your workplace like? How do you typically spend your day? What do you find challenging as an introvert?

Janine: So I have a pretty large staff team. There’s about 35 of us, but I feel within this team I have the absolute ideal role for an introvert, which is the majority of my time (up to 80 to 90 percent) I am doing one-on-one counseling and able to just meet with students individually. And so that gives me a lot of time to just reflect and work with the students in that one-on-one setting where I don’t have a lot of interruptions, and I don’t have a lot of demands to do multitasking–things like that. So that’s really what I set out to do. I knew that that setting would be a good fit for me. I also teach undeclared students in a class called Career Exploration Seminar that meets once a week. And my office in general, Career Services and Cooperative Education, we put on a lot of events and we’re in general, very externally focused–we conduct a lot of outreach. So I do get involved with those somewhat, but it’s not a primary focus of my role.

Ben: What do you find to be most challenging as an introvert in your office?

Janine: Even though I do have in a lot of ways, an ideal role for an introvert, there are some things that routinely challenge me, and the biggest one I think is when my phone rings, especially if I’m not expecting it. That’s just a–I guess–an occupational hazard. But I do find it challenging to speak up in meetings. I know a lot of us share that trait. Especially if I am speaking up in a meeting and I’m interrupted at some point, which you can imagine that can happen in team meetings–as much as 35 people. Another thing that I find difficult is when I’m being put on the spot to generate my thoughts and ideas extemporaneously and I don’t have time to prepare. So, I really need to seek out time to prepare when I have those meetings so that I don’t feel that pressure.

Ben: So Janine, it sounds like in a lot of ways you’ve picked a perfect environment for you and your temperament type, which was INFJ, which is Counselor, which we haven’t really talked about yet.

Janine: It was very important to me to pick a career where my listening abilities, which is something that just comes so naturally to me, that I would be able to use that as a primary skill set that I use every single day, and it’s really a key to being able to do my job well. And I appreciate that in my role, listening and taking time to respond is considered the ideal response to most of my sessions, and jumping right in with that verbal response, that’s typically kind of discouraged within counseling. So that works out perfectly for me. And as an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply. I also have a small team that I work on as a part of the larger team and they know that I’m an introvert, so they are courteous enough to give me lots of space in meetings to express my thoughts.

As an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply. @janinemrowe Click To Tweet

Ben: Janine, you’re the first guest that I’ve had who is MBTI certified. Can you talk about that a little bit and what you’ve discovered through that certification maybe about yourself and working with others?

Janine: Absolutely. I think working with the MBTI everyday, administering the test, interpreting results for our students and RIT alumni, and providing consultation to my peers on Myers Briggs temperament types, is a huge benefit as an introvert and just to me personally because of the value that I think that it provides. So within the certification process I certainly learned It did help me to embrace my introversion, because of course, as we know, there is no ideal type. No one preference or one trait is a more highly valued than another, but there are certain environments that allow those preferences to shine. And so that’s really the orientation that I take when I work with students is that it’s not, “okay, here’s your personality type” and here I’m trying to put people into boxes and and predict where they’re going to be the most successful, but helping them to recognize where their natural strengths lie and helping them connect that to the world of work. An example we use all the time is handwriting. You’re right handed or left handed. That’s your preference. You don’t even have to think about it and if I ask you to write for a little bit with your non-dominant hand, that’s going to be really challenging for you. You’re going to want to stop pretty soon after you start that, because you’re going to be fatigued, and you’re going to have to really think about it and you’re going to want to go back to doing what’s most natural and comfortable for you. So that kind of analogy we use all the time with students just to help them have a picture of how learning about personality types can benefit them in their career.

Ben: One thing that I found was interesting looking at the Myers Briggs and for some of the work that I’ve done in some of the articles and in a workshop that I do, I think many people might assume that the 16 different personality types identified are actually broken evenly across the population, but that’s not the case at all. And some personality types or temperament types, it’s a very, very small percentage of the population. Could you talk about that a little bit and then I’m really kind of interested if you see dominant or dominant side, the right is the right word, but more frequent personality or temperament types among our students here at RIT?

Janine: Certainly. You’re absolutely right. This is not an even distribution across all 16 types. I think that is a common misconception and we do see that extrovert ideal playing out (in my opinion) within the types that are most prevalent in the United States. So according to our figures which we use from the accreditation body that actually certifies MBTI practitioners and provides us the test materials, some of the most common types are ESFJ which make up to 13 percent of the population. And interestingly, ISTJ, up to 14 percent of the population. One of the things that I see often playing out with my individual students is how gender can influence how people experience their types in their preferences. So females for example, may feel more socially rewarded for operating in that feeling preference; In males, maybe more towards a logical in some cases. And here at Rochester Institute of Technology, I do work with a lot of engineering students, a lot of computing students. So luckily for me, I do work with many introverts on a daily basis, and some of the types that we work with quite frequently here would be the INTJ and the INTP, especially who tend to–I find them in engineering fields

Ben: And both INTJ and INTP are relatively small slices of the population as a whole.

Janine: Absolutely. I don’t have figures on the entire student population. That would be a very interesting project for us to work on. But just anecdotally, I would say if we’re looking at INTJ and INTP as about four percent of the population each, I would say it seems to be over-represented in those two types.

Ben: Let’s talk about doing presentations. Doing presentations has been an interesting topic that we’ve discussed in the podcast, but also among a lot of my friends in general, about what they find to be helpful in their presentations, what they find to be especially challenging about them. And most of the guests so far have been active presenters, although a few of them would prefer not to get up in front of people at all if they can help it. Do you enjoy presenting? What do you find the benefits to be? What do you find the challenges to be?

Janine: I do enjoy presenting, whether that be in a classroom setting or in my professional home, which I would consider to be the National Career Development Association and the National Association for Colleges and Employers. I Have been fortunate to present primarily around my neurodiversity work in those spaces. I do really enjoy it, but it is exhausting. I have found when I’m attending a convention or a conference, if I’m presenting, I cannot relax at all until that presentation is over because it’s just weighing on my mind. So I’ve come to develop a little bit of a routine to help me with that. And that involves activities–what I’ll do before, even down to what I eat and drink before a presentation and then what I’ll do after.

Ben: Can you expand on that a little bit?

Janine: Yeah, absolutely. So for me, listening to music through headphones is very important in terms of preparation and I think it serves a couple of purposes for me. One, is so that I can control some of the sensory input that I’m getting, and just drown out what I don’t want. And it helps kind of manage some of my nervous energy, so I like to listen to something that I know very well–something I know by heart. So I also don’t get overstimulated from that as well. During the presentation, I will often ideally identify some people that I already know in the audience and I may even ask them if they wouldn’t mind asking me a question, and I may even tell them what type of question I think would be beneficial to ask, and that helps manage because the Q and A is the worst part for me as an introvert, because I can only prepare for it so much.

Janine: And so if I know that I’ve got someone, a friend, who’s going to maybe ask me a question that I already know the answer to, I find that something I can really look forward to. And that helps kind of balance all the energy that I’m expending.

Ben: It’s funny. Alisa Bonsignore. who was a guest on a previous podcast, talked about the same type of issue that she has where she’s rock solid through the prepared material, but then has to deal with Q&A. In the story that she told she had gone to her doctor and he had given her a Holter monitor because it had been some time since her heart rate had been measured, and she wore it when she was presenting. And the night that she was presenting, everything was fine and then she hit the Q&A part, and she said it measured like she was in a sprint the whole time. So the Q&A, so she runs Alisa faces those same issues in terms of the part that is prepared is straightforward, but it’s the unknown that’s coming at us that makes it really confusing. Or really the unknown that’s coming at us that produces anxiety.

Ben: I do have to ask one question though, because someone is going to want to know what is on your track that you listen to before you present…

Janine: I knew you were going to ask me that! [Laughing] It might surprise you. I like a lot of Motown and music from the Sixties and Seventies. And I think the reason why is that’s what I listened to when I grew up, and it has such intense positive associations for me of being in my hometown or being with my family. And it just–I just can’t help but have a happy reaction to listening to that. So I will make sure that I find time in my schedule to get some of that.

Ben: That’s absolutely great! And I would say for the benefit of our listeners that I have been at conferences where Janine presents and she looks totally unflappable. So although there may be anxiety going on, it’s not something that’s apparent on the outside. Now, you had mentioned earlier that you find presenting exhausting and by extension, I’m assuming some of the conference attendance and activities as well. What do you do when you finish presenting, and you finished the Q&A, what do you do?

Janine: A lot of times I’ll try and hide, just to be totally honest! I will definitely need to take a break and recharge. And often as an introvert, that has to be either with a very small group of people I know very well or alone. So that means many times I may sit out in the next session after I’ve presented.

Ben: Yeah, actually I do the same thing once I’ve presented. I typically do sit out the next session, just to kind of–And I guess it is an energy recouping, but it’s also just to maybe settle the nerves down some. Though I’m not super aware of nerves when I’m presenting at this point either, but I do like to be able to wind down, and exactly like you said, I’m fine being around friends who will just let me sit there and wind down, but I not so great with follow-up questions immediately after a presentation, though the follow-up questions can be very good and they are very important. And what I found, especially when I started talking about introversion, there are a lot of follow ups through the remainder of the conference.

Janine: Hmm. That’s an interesting point. That’s what we do as introverts. Right? We process.

Ben: That’s true.

Janine: After the fact.

Ben: Yeah. Oh, that’s good. That’s interesting.

Janine: Hmm. That’s an interesting point.

Extras

 


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Episode 009: Jennifer Kahnweiler–Introvert Champions

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,Podcast

Episode 009: Jennifer Kahnweiler–Introvert Champions Show Notes

Introduction

Jennifer Kahnweiler and Ben Woelk chat about introvert champions, the 2nd edition of The Introverted Leader, diversity and introverts in the workplace, and the four Ps of introverted leadership–Prepare, Present, Push, and Practice.

Key concepts

  • An extrovert championing introverts
  • The four Ps of introverted leadership
  • The rise of the introverts

Quotable

Trends-on a positive note, extroverts are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us.

Once I started speaking about introverts and introverted leadership, I just had so many people start talking to me about how important it was for them to hear the message that they could be leaders.–Ben

We want them to understand that both groups [extroverts and introverts] have things to offer in the workplace and it’s important to tap into that group that’s usually quiet.

If [extroverts] are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals [introverts], then they are missing out.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Welcome to Hope for the Introvert. Our special guest today is Jennifer Kahnweiler. Jennifer is a well known author about introverts and introverted leadership. She’s a certified speaking professional and a global speaker, and she’s been hailed as a Champion for Introverts. Her best bestselling books are The Introverted Leader, Quiet Influence, and The Genius of Opposites. They’ve been translated into 16 languages. Jennifer helps organizations harness the power of introverts. She’s been a learning and development professional and speaker at leading organizations like General Electric, Freddie Mac, NASA, Turner Broadcasting, the US Centers for Disease Control, and the American Management Association. I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer at the October NYSERNet conference in Syracuse, New York, where she was the keynote speaker and spoke about The Genius of Opposites.

Ben: Hi Jennifer. Thanks for joining us today.

Jennifer: Hey Ben. It’s great to be on your podcast. Congratulations on this.

Ben: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. So I know we’re going to talk about your book today, but I wanted to ask you some questions as well. It’s really interesting because I think many of us assume that someone who’s interested in working on introverted leadership and writing about introverts would be an introvert themselves, but you’re actually an extrovert. Could you talk a little bit about your background and what drew your interest to the subject?

Jennifer: Yes, you’re absolutely right that most people do assume that I’m introverted and they reach out to me with that thought in mind. And I consider myself to be champion of introverts. I was working in the companies that you mentioned in the intro for a number of years and also had my own consulting and coaching practices through that cycle, and I kept coming up with the same theme and working with individuals who were trying to advance their careers or navigate the organization. And that was that they were frustrated as introverts. I had identified them that way because I was aware of the different personality types from my trainings as a counselor and as a coach and an OG consultant. I had that awareness that many more people have today. But back then it wasn’t so common when I started out my career. And so I kept coming up with the same–hearing about the same challenges and observing that introverts were hitting a wall oftentimes with promotions, with opportunities to be on cool projects with not being heard in meetings. And it really concerned me and I was coaching people individually and doing a lot of training in leadership classes, when it occurred to me that I needed to provide more resources. I looked for a book on the topic and had a very difficult time finding anything. And like a lot of authors will say they write the book that they want to read. So that’s really how it happened for me professionally.

I observed that introverts were hitting a wall oftentimes with promotions, with opportunities to be on cool projects with not being heard in meetings.--@jennkahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: So one thing that you mentioned at the conference, your husband is an introvert, right?

Jennifer: Oh yes. No doubt about that. If you met him, you would have no doubt, Bill is definitely an introvert. I say that, but he presents, you know, he’s got social skills and that’s one thing that we should probably implode that myth that introverts don’t, like you have, have great social interaction skills. But my first insight as I was sharing at the conference when I’m early on in our relationship and after we got married even, I was perplexed because we would be with people then and you could probably relate to this, right? That then afterwards in the car on the ride home, there was total silence. Crickets as they say, you know, and I couldn’t get him to talk about the evening because as I knew as an extrovert experiences make sense for extroverts as they verbalize them. And so there was a disconnect there because he, all he wanted to do was be silent and go within himself so he could decompress from the evening. So, uh, yeah, absolutely. He’s been my– I laugh about the day. We both laugh about him being the case study for a lot of my work. I’ll check with him all the time. And sometimes he even says, “Jennifer, you need to read the book to remind yourself” because as an extrovert, we forget sometimes to respect the silence of the quiet.

Jennifer: Didn’t you also say you have an extrovert in your family as well?

Ben: I’m actually the only introvert in my nuclear family. My wife is an ENFJ, which I believe when we were talking that’s what you are also. And she’s done a lot of communicating, writing, training-type things. Both my kids were extroverts and they all process externally. So as an introvert in the household, I’m quite happy to be quiet and engrossed in whatever I’m watching or reading, and they’re bored and they want to go out and do something because that external stimulation is so important to them. I found it absolutely fascinating that you were writing about this from an extrovert’s point of view. And I think that’s really important, because I know that some of the conversations I have with extroverts, there’s the, well, why? What’s all this focus on introverts? Why do you need to write about introverts? Extroverts are important people too.

Jennifer: Exactly, And I just will go back on something you said. I tried to represent the view of an introvert in all of my writing. I’ve written four books actually with the second edition of The Introverted Leader just coming out. And what I really try to do, Ben, is to put a journalist hat on and I do my research. It’s all qualitative research and I look back on my trainings and I gather notes from all my interviews that I do in my questionnaires, but it really comes down to me trying to tell the story, not so much from the extrovert wearing the extrovert hat, but of course that’s lens is always going to be there, so I try to check myself by surrounding myself with editors and my team who are mostly introverted, and as I mentioned, my spouse and I try to run everything by them, but I’ll say that extroverts really never are going to know, just like introverts don’t really know. what it’s like to sit in the shoes of a real introvert and vice versa. I think it’s difficult to imagine because for extroverts, it’s just not, as you say, sitting alone for any extended period of time can really be deflating rather than energizing, which it is for the introvert. So I think I tried to tell the story but always know that, I’m never going to know exactly what it’s like.

For extroverts, sitting alone for any extended period of time can really be deflating rather than energizing @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. Somewhere I came across the phrase that extroverts are bored by themselves in both senses of the word. So it was pretty funny.

Jennifer: That statement, bored by themselves. Yeah. No, no, no. I think one thing that I’ll say Ben, is we’ve been talking about introverts now for 10 years. It started the rebel–as I call it, the rise of the introverts. There’s been so much more written about it. As you say, people are talking about it, and I think one of the positives in addition to more awareness, which to me is absolutely critical, especially when you think about children who grew up years ago feeling different and becoming more what we might call shy, because there wasn’t an acceptance in our extroverted-type society for introverts to really own who they were. But we’re seeing more of that. And the other trend that we’re seeing now–on a positive note–is that extroverts, Ben, I think are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us. And so I think we’re seeing such a growth in the meditation movement and Yoga and Quiet, just people wanting quiet as a reaction to, against the digital overload. Um, so I am seeing extroverts say to me, “Oh, you know, I did take some time and it, and it was really great for me to plan and to just get focused.” I don’t know if you’ve observed that as well.

Over the last ten years, we're seeing the rise of the introverts. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Trends-on a positive note, extroverts are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: I’ve seen some of it. I feel like I am far from an activist personality, but it feels like that once I started speaking about introverts and introverted leadership, I just had so many people start talking to me about how important it was for them to hear the message that they could be leaders. And I think most of the extroverts that I know, they know me pretty well at this point in time and they know in some ways I’m a strong advocate for introverts. It’s interesting because one of the things I wanted to ask you about was what the reception has been by extroverts. The extroverts I know that–there are a few who have teasingly asked me why am I just talking about introverts and because a lot of the leadership things go for everyone, but one thing I was really curious about, and you spoke at the NYSERNET conference was The Genius of Opposites, where you’re essentially trying to get probably both sides–if we want to call it sides–so it’s really a spectrum. We want them to understand that both groups have things to offer in the workplace and it’s important to tap into that group that’s usually quiet. I was curious what the reception has been, especially by extroverts or by introverts–whether that’s really too generalized?

We want them to understand that both groups (extroverts and introverts) have things to offer in the workplace and it's important to tap into that group that's usually quiet. Click To Tweet

How important it is for introverts to hear the message that they could be leaders. @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: That’s interesting you’re asking that question. I only have very anecdotal data on this, but I still think we have a long way to go for extroverts, Ben, to think that there is a problem. Like just as you were referring to people say–kind of giving you–making fun of it sort of in a in a kind, but in a joking way. (I’m not sure that’s all kind!” I think people make change in my opinion and my experience when there is pain, when there is a discomfort, and on the positive side, I guess I’m–you can call me a Pollyanna. I do see things from–try to look at the glass more half full, and I’ll give both sides of it. I think on the glass half-full side, I’m seeing more and more leaders and managers who are extroverts recognize that introversion is a part of a diversity issue.

Jennifer: And so if they are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals, then they are missing out. Not just as a nice to have, but it’s a must have. They need those ideas. They need that innovation. It affects the bottom line. Let’s face it, from a gets–and their results are less. So I think the ones that are starting to see that and pull back the curtain and say, yeah, we need to look at how do we deal with introverts. I’m seeing more of that, and that’s why I’m busy speaking, and that’s why we’re doing more work in companies, but on the other side of it, there are still many extroverts who think that introverts should just get it together and just act like they are, and they oftentimes will say to an introverted leader, and I wonder if you’ve heard this, “Well, no, no, you’re really not an introvert. I mean, no, you’re definitely not. I mean, you’re not showing any of those characteristics.”? Have you ever heard that from people yourself?

If extroverts are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals (introverts), then they are missing out. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: When I’m in a conference framework? No one would ever guess that I’m an introvert.

Jennifer: There you go!

Ben: I’ve done interviews with people and we’ve talked about introverted leadership, and then when they’ve met me at a conference, they’re telling me, “You’re crazy! You’re not an introvert!”, but I draw back to the “how do I recharge?” and I can be very “on.” I can be very social. I still don’t like introducing myself to people and just going up and talking to people. I find that to be a challenge, but there’s some situations where I know I need to be doing that, so I do it. I play whatever role, but I feel like–paying the price might be a bit strong, but I definitely will need several days of recharge time after going to a conference where I’m on all the time.

Ben: It’s a spectrum. If it was not a spectrum, none of this would make any sense, but I feel like yes, I am very extroverted for an introvert at this point in my life. But I also know that looking back many years ago when we first got married, my wife was concerned whether I’d ever get up and talk to anyone and ever be social at all. And of course with her being an extrovert, the social was very, very important for her. So I have changed or grown a lot over the years and I think I’ve learned to accept that I need to guard my energy. So I’m saying that, but I don’t guard my energy at these conferences at all, and what I find is that I need to recoup the energy afterwards, but I’m also recognizing that I think part of it is I feel like it’s always on becoming a bit of a spokesperson for the introverts in my professions and I think that makes a difference as well.

Jennifer: And I applaud you for that. We need more people like you who are advocates throughout every industry in every part of the world. And I really liked what you said about how you’ve evolved and developed, and I think you think of it like a muscle and you strengthen those skills. But back to people discounting the fact that you’re an introvert, I think people need to push back and say, “No, I’m really introverted. I’m using those skills,” and the unwritten texts that I would hope extroverts pick up is the same for them. You guys need to be quiet and you’re more effective when extroverts, when we listen, when we pause, when we take time to prepare; all of those strengths and skills that introverts bring to the table and that I encourage the introverts to amplify.

We need more introverts who are advocates throughout every industry in every part of the world. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Jennifer: So take your example of the social networking–that I think I may have mentioned in this talk that I gave–that it’s probably one of the biggest challenges that introverts talk about in addition to public speaking and being in meetings, socializing and networking. And so, as an example of that, you take preparation, which is your sweet spot or one of them, reflecting and thinking about the conference you’re going to, to use your example. Think, “Okay, let me look at the schedule. First of all, let me guard my time. When can I take breaks? Okay. I planned it out.” Things might change. Like I think at the conference we were at they changed the room or they changed the time. Just be aware that things could change, but that you plan for that. You plan for those and you protect those times because otherwise as you said, you will, you really will deflate.

Jennifer: And then the other thing related to the networking is you planned how, what–maybe some icebreakers–things that you’re going to say, like, “What’s been keeping you busy lately?” And figure out how you’re going to follow up with people so that you make those conferences worth it to you and you build connections and relationships. I just went to one and I’m trying to think about how do I stay connected with these people in this group that I met? It was so dynamic. So how do we take that forward? While an introvert would reflect on that, right? And they would think about, okay, what’s the strategy, rather than moving to the next conference or the next stimuli, right before doing that. So I have to tap into my introverted side, and so the thing I came up with this morning is, “Okay. Let me propose to the group that we put together like a WhatsApp texting group so that we can stay connected.” So I think both styles have so many strengths that we bring to the table and we just need to get in touch with those, own them, and then leverage them.

Ben: Yeah. I think one other thing about the conferences, I tend to go to the same ones year after year and I know people now, so I think that gives me a comfort level because part of it is coming together and seeing our large dysfunctional family [Jennifer laughing]. But at least for all–most of us are friends, and you get that sense of belonging and I’m comfortable. I know these people. I know they’re not judging me. It’s harder when I go to something I’ve never been to before and I don’t know anyone there, but something else that you mentioned that I didn’t start doing until a couple of years ago was how do you really continue that conference experience in the sense of how do you continue those relationships? How do you build on the relationships? And the first time I spoke by myself on introverted leadership a couple of years ago, one of the things I did coming out of it after I had numerous introverts come talk to me after my presentation, which was the opening presentation the first day of the conference, or one of the opening presentations that day, I set up an online community using Slack as a tool. And we have since built that community into–there are over 200 people signed up on it.

How do you really continue that conference experience in the sense of how do you continue those relationships? @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: Wow.

Ben: Not all introverts. We do let some extroverts in–on good behavior.

Jennifer: Well maybe you’ll vouch for me and put me in and recommend me to it. I’d love to be involved. [Laughing]

Ben: Oh absolutely. But it’s been great. It’s not like everybody’s chatty all the time, but it gives us an opportunity to discuss issues that concern some of us. And often we’ll find a book that we’re all interested in and start kind of working through that together and discussing it. So it’s been great in terms of actually continuing the relationships.

Jennifer: Wonderful. Wonderful. And you’re bringing up another strength–or two of them–of introverted leaders, and that is writing and also a thoughtful use of technology, and so I love that you’re doing that. So I’d love to have that link and kind of weigh in there and listen and learn from your community. I really applaud you for that.

Ben: Well, thank you. That would be awesome. So I did want to go back to your second edition of your book that’s just come out and your reasons for writing it, what you’re hoping readers will take away from it, and then maybe what are the key factors in it that you see for introverts who want to be leaders or who are already in leadership.

Jennifer: Okay. Wonderful. Well I thank you for asking about that. It is called The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength, and I’m very fortunate to feel grateful that it seems to be doing quite well and I’m just trying to get it into the hands of a lot of people so that we can have a–it’s basically based–it comes from the lessons that I’ve learned from my work with introverted leaders and from all different functions and industries, people, everybody have endorsed it from Arianna Huffington, to Adam Grant, Dan Pink, (all introverts), Beverly Tatum. And they all reinforce the lessons that were shared there.

Jennifer: And I built on the model that I came up with over 10 years ago, that we’ve now had a chance to really get into the hands of thousands of people. And that’s the Four Ps, which consists of what introverted leaders do. And they Prepare. They are Present. They Push, and they Practice, and they do that in very intentional ways. The way you were describing with your group and that you’ve got after the conference. And I have a lot of tools and techniques, you know, I’m all about application. I’ve always been. There’s not a whole lot of theory in there, but it’s how do you deliver a powerful presentation? How do you enter that networking event so you’re effective? And again, it’s not lessons that I’m necessarily sharing. Of course, I’m taking from my experience in this field for so many years, but it really does come–and all the examples come from–introverts who have been using these approaches and techniques.

Jennifer: I think it’s pretty easy to go through. It is based on–you can take a quiz that’s on my website at JenniferKahnweiler.com. It’s also in the book, and it tells you what area perhaps you need to work on a little bit more that’s going to be useful to you and your current and future role. And then it also says what you’re doing well and how you want to build on that. I think you have a copy of the book. It’s very practical and I’m very proud of it from just having worked–when you write a book, you’re not sure how it’s going to land and you just want to get people to read it and use it and find it useful.

Ben: I think that’s really great. I understand the uncertainty of how things are going to be received. I had the same issue with the whole doing-a-podcast thing.

Jennifer: And I applaud you for that. [Laughing] You went in there. You’re not expecting to be perfect. You’re learning as you go and I think that’s fantastic.

Ben: Yeah. And it’s funny because I had no idea if there’d be any listeners or not, and I had ideas of what I was going to do to host the content and all of that sort of thing. And then I launched, and, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got listeners!”, and had to make some changes right away to make sure the content would always be accessible to them. But it’s funny. So you mentioned the four Ps as kind of the crux of the book in a lot of ways, in terms of introverts recognizing that those are their strengths, and that’s one of the things I found also, is reminding introverts that they have strengths, and that not everything is a weakness or shortcoming as they may have perceived it to be, seems to be an absolutely key piece of this. One thing I’ve mentioned in some of my other writings and talking is just this whole–sometimes, at least for me, I kind of want the external validation that yes, I can do these things.

Ben: I don’t know that that’s typical for an introvert, though I suspect some of it is, because we think and dwell and dwell and maybe overthink things some. But for me, little things which just seem funny on the face of it. I’ve been doing technical communication and then information security work for decades now. But I didn’t have a degree in anything like that, and I was actually a History doctoral student of all things and that wasn’t practical enough for me. So I appreciate your emphasis on the practical, but I found that I ended up seeking external certifications just so I can say,  “Hey, I’ve got this degree in this now. I’m a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.” But for me, it was more proving–I think in ways it was proving to myself that I could do these things.

Ben: So I do think that building confidence in introverts and helping them understand their strengths and the areas that they can really leverage and focus on, I think is a huge contribution, because at least from what I’ve found, that seems to be the key. You talk to people and, “I can’t be a leader.” “I have no leadership qualities.” “I’m not this charismatic leader who stands in front of everyone and tells everyone what to do.” “I don’t like being the public face of something!” To actually be able to come to that group of people and explain that these are your strengths. Being an introvert is not a handicap. I really see it as a strength in a lot of ways. (Although our business schools aren’t there at this point in time.) But I think this whole giving them the confidence they need and helping them understand that they have the innate skills, and giving them the tools to leverage those, is a really key contribution.

Building confidence in introverts and helping them understand their strengths and the areas that they can really leverage and focus on, I think is a huge contribution. @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: Yes, Ben. I agree with that. And two reactions to what you just shared: the confidence factor you mentioned, giving them the confidence. I think it really does come from within and I think that we can be the spark. People who are sharing this message and I guess we’re the champions, the advocates, can really create awareness so that people do increase their confidence. And just one quick image I’d like to share. When I started doing my talks, I would ask people in the audience, and they’re primarily introverted audiences. I’d say what are the characteristics and strengths of introverts? And there’d be a little silence and that’s okay. I’ve learned to live with silence and then slowly but surely, there’d be like a trickle, “listeners,” “we observe,” “we prepare”, “we’re analytical.” It goes on and on.

Jennifer: And as those words would come out into the room, they would be voiced in the room. I’d look around (no matter how large the group) and I would literally see people change their body language. They would sit up a little straighter in their chairs. I even saw some quizzical looks with smiles, and it was very reinforcing to me, because the body and the face don’t lie, right? They say what people are feeling, and that has been replicated hundreds, if not thousands of times in the last 10 years. So I think I try to keep that in mind and if we could do that around the world, we’d have people sitting up straighter in their chairs and owning this, that definitely in my belief is related to an increase in confidence and then performance.

Ben: Yeah. I think it’s the key. It’s providing inspiration and that is such a cool story that you’re actually saying that you’re seeing the change of body language. You don’t get to do that when you’re presenting over the web or speaking through a podcast.

Jennifer: Well, let me–I’ll push back a little. I do a lot of online classes and I actually, a lot of my introverted clients will say that is their preferred method of learning, or one of the key… And you may invalidate that or not, but when people get on the phone, when you do let them put their voice in the room, you hear it in their voice, Ben,  you hear it in their voice, and as you know with your Slack community, there is a lot of engagement on the chats. So you get a lot of activity–rather than in some online classes you’ve probably been involved in, too, where it’s like nothing. You just have the instructor teaching. There’s a lot of engagement. So, yeah, I think that all those platforms are our ways to also tap into the enthusiasm.

Ben: I think that’s really great. Jennifer. This has been a great conversation. I know you mentioned that you had been working on another book and I’m curious about the research that you’re doing and where that’s going.

Jennifer: Yes. Ben, thank you for asking about my new research, which I’m so excited about. We are going to be working now in moving into a new direction with the whole introvert conversation, and that is taking a look at how do we shift the culture–the workplace culture, where it’s already happening, some, but we want to understand what companies are doing to create an environment that embraces and supports introverts. And by the way, when you do that, in my belief, you’re also supporting the entire community. At this point I’m going to just put this out to your audience, too, “What sort of best practices have you seen in terms of your workplace design in terms of some of the management practices and leadership practices that you feel are supportive of introverts? How about with meetings or how about with hiring?”, all of the parts that make that make up the whole of working in an organization. We are seeing best practices emerge and bubble up, but I want to highlight those, and I want to help people to replicate that as change agents in their own cultures.

Jennifer: So I’m very excited and I can’t wait to do another podcast with you to share with you some of the results I’m getting. We’re doing a survey coming up in the next few weeks and I’ll be sure to share that with you and could with your listeners as well.

Ben: Thank you. I really appreciate that and I actually really appreciate your support of the podcast. Like I said, it’s been a bit of an experiment and a bit of a new journey for me and it’s been exciting, but there’s obviously some concerns in trepidation to start with with it.

Jennifer: Well, you’re a risk taker. You took, you took a risk and I would push back and say it’s not an experiment and you’ve got a podcast now, Ben. It’s needed and let’s get the word out for sure. I’d love to hear from listeners. People can reach me through my website at JenniferKahnweiler.com. Just Google me and you’ll find me, and I’d love to connect on social media. I’m active on Linkedin and instagram and would love to just, include people in the conversation and expand this movement. So thank you so much for the work you’re doing.

Ben: Thank you Jennifer for joining us today. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I do look forward to having you back on in hearing about this research. It’s going to be really interesting.

Extras

Ben and Jennifer

Ben and Jennifer at the NYSERNet Conference 2018.

 








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Kirk St Amant headshot

Episode 008: Kirk St Amant–Reflective Listener and Leader

Category:Higher Education,introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,Podcast,Social Networking

Episode 008: Kirk St Amant–Active Listener and Leader Show Notes

Introduction

Kirk and I discuss what it’s like being “on” as an , and his introvert strengths of being a reflective listener and being able to tease out details to help people focus and express their ideas. Kirk has some interesting comments on public speaking as well. 

Key concepts

  • Being a reflective listener
  • Teasing out detail
  • Debilitating stage fright
  • Being who you are
  • The echo chamber of social media

Quotable

And I think that’s a major challenge for introverts, is trying to maximize that ability you have to sit and listen, balanced against the expectation that we should have an extroverted communication style for the most part. And helping individuals realize that silence is not necessarily a negative thing.

I’m not the ideal person you want in sort of an outreach season. I’m not a meet-and-greet kind of person. I’m not going to be the person who walks into the room and introduces myself to every single person there, but I am the person who is willing to sit there and listen to everybody who wants to come through and talk about what needs to be done differently or better next time.

I think the biggest thing is you’ve got to be who you are and the biggest impediment is for individuals to think they’ve got to become an extrovert to be successful. Or they’ve got to force their way to be an extrovert in a certain way. We’ve all got to be introverts or extroverts over the course of our professional lives. That’s a given, but it’s got to be according to parameters that work for you with your personality….

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Kirk, it’s great to have you back again. Today we’re going to continue our discussion about what it’s like to be an introvert in the workplace and for you specifically to be an introvert in academia. So one of the things we’ve asked our guests is, what do you find to be most challenging as an introvert in your profession?

Kirk: Great question. The need to be on. And by on. I mentioned earlier, you pretend to be an extrovert in many cases and so the need to be on during these instructional times–and these aren’t just in the classroom teaching the class, but they’re in the hallway talking with students. They’re during office hours, being with students and in many cases, I mean you can go for an entire day where you’re in complete “On mode” for eight to ten hours a day, between teaching and meeting with students and talking with students and meeting with colleagues and stuff. And that can be exhausting and I think it’s a matter of–I don’t know about you or other introverts–but I need decompression time after this happens. And it’s kind of helping people realize that I’m going to not be interacting a whole lot for this next little bit here, because I just need time to sit and breathe and just be alone for a little bit.

Kirk: That’s the thing. One challenge. And I think the other challenge is whenever you create sort of this persona of the extrovert teacher, if you will, in the classroom, students come to expect that of you every time they encounter you. And so when they meet you out in the community and begin to engage with you and they realize you don’t talk a lot, and my word, you’re dull, well, yes, I probably am. [Ben laughing] So it’s kind of helping them realize that no, this, this thing in the classroom is kind of, this is what I do in that particular venue and this is who I am most of the rest of the time. So I think that’s kind of the big challenges. Making these worlds meet if you will, and getting other individuals you work with to adapt to them, that this is okay. This is how this person works.

The challenge is whenever you create sort of this persona of the extrovert teacher, if you will, in the classroom, students come to expect that of you every time they encounter you. Click To Tweet

Kirk: I think many of us do this, whether introverts or extroverts. It’s a spectrum. We move back and forth between different points on it and so I think getting individuals to understand that we’re not all one or all the other, but we move back and forth, and don’t take this as meaning anything other than the fact that I’m in my decompression time right now. I’m not trying to be the classic things that we’re probably all accused of–aloof, silent, quiet, you know, standoffish, whatever it might be. That this is just who I am and kind of getting individuals to realize, oh no, this is just another facet of that person’s personality. I think that’s a great challenge because they’re so accustomed to seeing you in this ON mode, if you will.

Ben: Yeah, and I’ve mentioned in prior podcasts talking with friends that we see each other at conferences and that’s the only other time people really see us and what they see at conferences is not how we are in our private life. We may appear to be very outgoing, but it does drain us and we do need to get that time where we can just go away, retreat and recharge.

Kirk: Yes, it’s essential. [laughing]

Ben: Kirk, what do you believe are your biggest strengths as an introvert and how have you leveraged them?

Kirk: I think they are twofold. I think one is listening and it’s the ability to want to sit and listen and process. I think we do cue behavior in terms of, yes, I understand, to kind of prompt the conversation, but to want to let the other party talk as much as is needed and simply listen and process there as they’re speaking I think is a great asset. I think another great asset is, let’s call it this tenacious desire, to want to tease out details as people are speaking. So one of the things that I’ve had people kind of been confused about with my behavior is they’ll present something to me and then I’ll follow up with a slew of questions before I say anything. And that slew of questions is essentially designed to focus in on what the person is talking about–to actually try to get to the heart of what is the specific focus we should be addressing. And I think that’s a strength, because it helps the person you’re speaking with–and you also–realize what the actual thing you wish to focus on is. And in many cases, then you can work backwards from that focus to figure out what’s the overall situation you’re talking about. I’ve got a problem. Well, when does it happen? Where does it happen? What seems to be present when it’s–when it’s taking place? What seems to be the cause…? You’re zoning in on what is actually the nature of the problem and you can work out from that,

Kirk: I think they’re sort of focused questioning in relation to exchanges where you ask the person you’re interacting with to focus in on or zone in on that thing they’re talking about. I think that’s greatly beneficial, as one thing that introverts tend to do is to want to focus in on very specific things through sort of targeted, repeated questioning, “There’s this problem.” “Well, tell me about it. Where does it happen? When does it seem to happen? What seems to be causing it? What seems to be the environment that’s causing it?” To sort of focus in until you really get to the heart of the matter, I think is beneficial and I think it’s something many introverts do inherently, and I think it’s helpful both for the person with whom you’re speaking and for you because you begin to better understand the nature of what you’re going to be talking about. What is actually the problem we’re discussing. Can we get to it? And so I think that’s a strength that…at least in my mind.

Ben: I’m laughing a little bit as you’re talking about this, and mainly because I know that for me and my temperament type, I’m not the most patient person in the world, and I lose focus when people meander when they’re talking to me. And I’m seeing this as this is a way to kind of get them focused and, as you mentioned, it’s good for them. It’s good for you. Also.

Kirk: Maybe, Ben, you’ve experienced the same thing, but there’s a tendency I think for many introverts to focus in on things. You mentioned like what your temperament is. Is it your temperament, or you process information in a certain way? So it’s like, no, can we keep it this way because I’m gonna process down this line of thought first and we can come back to that other thing later. And I think that’s a benefit, because it helps the person with whom you’re interacting kind of focus in on what they’re talking about. And let’s face it, I’m doing it right now. We tend to talk all over the place as we’re extemporaneous–extemporaneizing on stuff. (God, I think I just made up a word) [Ben laughing], as you’re kind of going and that kind of focus helps bring things back. And again, I think that’s something that tends to be associated with introverted behavior as far as I understand it. Those are what I see as the strengths, the ability to listen and then to ask questions to try to guide in on things.

Kirk: At the same time, I think those are weaknesses, and by weaknesses I mean, people have certain perceptions of what that behavior means, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with interacting a lot with introverts who operate in that way. And so I’m willing to bet you and many other introverts have encountered things like, you know, this person is, they’re passive, they’re standoffish. They’re not necessarily positive things that come with a lack of desire to communicate continually in the moment, or the dogged pursuit of trying to focus questions in on things. You mentioned, for example, temperament and not being patient with things. Well that’s, you know, again, notice you’re contextualizing that in a certain way, which is not, it’s contextualized as negative, but it doesn’t have to be. And I think that’s a major challenge for introverts, is trying to maximize that ability you have to sit and listen, balanced against the expectation that we should have an extroverted communication style for the most part. And helping individuals realize that silence is not necessarily a negative thing.

Kirk: I hope that made sense.

Ben: No, I think it does.

Ben: And “silence”. I am married to an extrovert and she finds silence difficult to deal with because she’s processing–she processes verbally. But then when she gets silence in response, she doesn’t know what the other person–if it’s an introvert like me–she doesn’t necessarily know what the other person is thinking about things because they are processing it internally and not verbally, and that’s been one of those challenges we’ve learned to work through over the years. It’s interesting, because I had referred to temperament and patience. I’m getting a little–I don’t want to go deep into it–but looking at the Keirsey Temperament Theory, and I know we haven’t talked about this kind of stuff much at all, but where I fit in that as a Rational–not irrational, but some may beg to differ–but a Rational and I am all about kind of objective, “Let’s get to the point” sort of thing. So that’s why I’m referencing that temperament part where the touchy-feely stuff doesn’t–I don’t empathize well, I guess is what it really boils down to. I’m more interested in “Oh, is there a problem here?” Let’s work on the problem sort of thing rather than just being available to listen. So I, even as an introvert, I have to watch myself in terms of wanting to jump in and provide a solution when there’s not necessarily even a solution that’s being asked for.

Kirk: Gotcha.

Ben: So in terms of your profession, in terms of the Society for Technical Communication and I think American Medical Writers Association, in what ways have you been an influencer or leader?

Kirk: I think in many ways it’s the ability to have discussions with folks. And again, the ability to–I want to listen to what you have to say and let me ask some questions to try to tease this out. I think that way I think is very beneficial. There are times for different kinds of leadership. There are times you need extroverted leadership and there are times when you need introverted leadership, and I think in a few cases I’ve been fortunate where I’ve hit at the time where that desire for let’s pull back and be introspective about this for a bit has been beneficial. Before doing a lot of the stuff I do with the STC, I was involved with an academic organization called the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communications, CPTSC, (there’s a mouthful,) and it was at a time I think where the organization needed to sort of stop for a moment and take a breath and figure out where it was going to go next.

Kirk: And in that case, I think that, you know, the fact that I’m a little bit more on the reserved side was beneficial. I’m not the ideal person you want in sort of an outreach season. I’m not a meet-and-greet kind of person. I’m not going to be the person who walks into the room and introduces myself to every single person there, but I am the person who is willing to sit there and listen to everybody who wants to come through and talk about what needs to be done differently or better next time. And I think again, we’re back to those sort of balance things. I think you probably have experienced this also, but from my perspective, the best thing to do is to have a leadership team, if you will. Where you do have an introvert and an extrovert who are both working together in some sort of leadership position, and I think that way you can really maximize the benefits of both personality types. And I’ve been very fortunate in the past to have been in a situation where I have worked with some people who were just amazing extroverts, but knew how to work with an introvert also and vice versa.

Ben: Oh, very cool. So what recommendations would you have for introverts who want to become influencers or leaders?

Kirk: I think it’s a matter of figuring out what benefits you bring as a leader, and again, as introverts, there’s a tendency to listen more–to want to think through fully before responding–and then to be very careful in how you articulate responses. I think that’s a very, very good sort of skill set to have and as a matter of figuring out at what point in time do I need to use that skill set based upon the needs of the organization or the group. And I think it’s also a matter of figuring out what are my “limitations” as a leader because I’m not an extrovert, what methods can I use to address that? I might not be the best public speaker on earth, but I’m pretty good at blog posts, so maybe I’ll do more leadership through these kinds of postings, then I will through podcasts or to public orations if you will.

Kirk: So it’s a matter of realizing there are other ways to achieve this objective of, as a leader, building a sense of community, reaching out to others. It’s a matter of what works with my personality type. I think as introverts we all have kinds of crutches for lack of a better way of putting it, for addressing situations. I’ll be honest with you, Ben, you’ve seen me speak before, right? Okay. One thing you’ll notice and people have bugged me about this, I take off my glasses when I talk, and the reason I do that is because I am–can’t see a thing without them and so it works magic for me because I really–I don’t have to worry about that sort of, I’m standing up in front of a group of people and worried about how I’m going to behave. I can’t see them. I’m lucky if I don’t walk into a wall, you know, but it’s a behavior that you learned to sort of, I’ve got to be the extrovert in the situation. We’ve all learned these different kinds of mechanisms to help us at work in these situations and it’s learning what they are and using them effectively.

Ben: It’s funny, because in my conversation with Alisa, we talked about presentation styles and for her, the key thing is to ensure that she has eye contact with one or two members of the audience to be able to engage with them and to be able to present with them. I had no idea. I think I remember you taking your glasses off. It wasn’t really apparent to me at that point, but that that’s hysterical–that you can’t see–that you do better not being able to see people to see their reactions, which in theory should make you really good at doing webinars also. [Kirk laughing] But it’s just funny because of the different approaches that we have.

Kirk: Uh huh. And it’s–we’ve all got a mechanism that we’ve designed that works for us, and it’s back to what is that mechanism? Can we really maximize it? The whole “take off my glasses and talk,” like I have debilitating stage fright. Without that I’m not speaking, but it works in large group settings where I’m communicating to a crowd. In smaller group discussions, I’ve got to be very careful about making sure I put my glasses on often enough to see what’s going on to interact. And so, it’s just learning those different behaviors and norms and realizing I didn’t realize how much I pick up on nonverbal cues in terms of just how the audience sounds, because I really can’t see them or because I can’t see their faces, I’ve become a lot more attuned to their body posture because I can see forms. I just can’t see faces. And so just realizing, oh wow, these are things that I was really picking up on before that I hadn’t realized.

Ben: Yeah, it’s–this is a really interesting discussion. I don’t know how many people do that. There could be many. I recognize when I present, when I’ve seen myself on video, there are all sorts of mannerisms that I wasn’t aware of and I tried to kind of watch those as I’m speaking, but again, in the heat of the moment, there’s no telling what might pop out. It’s interesting. Any other recommendations for introverts becoming influencers or leaders?

Kirk: I think the biggest thing is you’ve got to be who you are and the biggest impediment is for individuals to think they’ve got to become an extrovert to be successful. Or they’ve got to force their way to be an extrovert in a certain way. We’ve all got to be introverts or extroverts over the course of our professional lives. That’s a given, but it’s got to be according to parameters that work for you with your personality, and you’ve mentioned with your personality how you’ve kind of bridged that divide. I think the thing to be wary of is the thought that I need to be this kind of introvert or extrovert, or I need to do these things to be successful when being an extrovert or presenting myself as an extrovert. It’s got to be your own style that works for you. Finding that which is natural to you, because whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you can tell if someone’s behaving unnaturally. And I think that’s the key. Is this–is what I’m going to be to try to be extroverted about things versus I can’t really do it this way. Here’s what works for me. I think that’s the major thing that’s important for folks.

I think the biggest thing is you've got to be who you are and the biggest impediment is for individuals to think they've got to become an extrovert to be successful. Or they've got to force their way to be an extrovert in a certain… Click To Tweet

Ben: Kirk, this has been a great discussion. What other thoughts do you have for us today?

Kirk: I think for myself, the one area I’d like to see help with in terms of introverts and extroverts are social media, because social media for the most part as I see it is, it’s an extrovert’s medium or suite of media that is designed to project aspects of what you’re doing out to the greater population to see. And like any sort of thing that takes place in a public setting, there are certain expectations and dynamics to it that at least myself as an introvert, I don’t feel comfortable using or knowing or understanding. But I want to say that in two different sorts of concepts. The first is, as an introvert, I’d like to know more how to effectively project out to engage, but as an introvert I’d also like to see more introverts working with others to talk about. It can’t just be self projection all the time and I think that again, there’s–because you can’t see the population you’re interacting with, it’s a matter of what’s the litmus test or tests for echo that says, “This is too much, this is not enough.” How do you go from one-way broadcasting to interactive interaction through these media.

Kirk:  And I think introverts and extroverts, all people have a role to play in discussing how to do this because these are very powerful media. I think the biggest fear there within is they can be echo chambers. if you’re always projecting out without the response from others speaking back, how far will you get in a line of sort of thought before you realize I could be dead wrong. And that’s an area where all of us sort of together need to figure out how to navigate these new kinds of media. It’s exciting, but it’s an opportunity for us to interact and participate and work together to build things. And I think that’s what’s key.

Ben: Well, I appreciate your time today. This has been a very insightful and interesting interview and I look forward to having you on the program again in the future.

Kirk: Looking forward to it. Thank you for the opportunity and thank you for this podcast series. It’s a great resource.

Ben: Thank you. I appreciate that.


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