Quiet Influence for Introverts

quietInfluenceI’m getting ready to shift jobs, moving into a position with greater responsibility, loads of potential, and one that will need me to get buy in for my ideas from a lot of different people.  I have to be a good negotiator and effective communicator.  That’s enough to make an introvert reach for the blankets and pull them over the head.  I’m excited about it, but I’m also taking a new look at how I’m going to approach it from an introvert’s perspective.

To give me some ideas, I’ve started reading “Quiet Influence; The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference” by Jennifer Kahnweiler.  She’s an extrovert who does a lot of coaching of introverts.  I thought that might be an interesting perspective.  Up until now I’ve been reading books by introverts.  When it comes to business, though, maybe an extrovert’s advice might be helpful.

She opens the book with comment from a client who was criticized on her performance review for being too reserved.  I want to go on record as saying I hate performance reviews.  I have no trouble praising other people, but I can never think of anything special to say about myself.  I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging.  Plus I don’t see what I do as anything special.  I’m just being me.  I sweat bullets over having to do a self review.

But back to the book.

The first chapter is entitled “Stop Trying to Act Like an Extrovert”.  OK, she got my attention with that.  Good advice!

She lists six roadblocks to quiet influence, the things that prevent our voices from being heard in the workplace.  I live in the US where louder is better and Type A assertiveness reigns supreme, so these resonated with me.  The bold topics are the authors, the italics are my comments.:

1.  Focus on Teams:  Don’t we all hate teams?  I can handle a certain amount of group brainstorming, like fifteen minutes’ worth, but after that leave me alone to think.  I don’t even like to see or hear other people in the room when I’m working through something.  How do people get things done in crammed cubicle farms?  And team meetings just make me claustrophobic.  team_meeting

2.  The Need to Talk about Accomplishments and Ideas:  These days it’s all the rage to promote yourself.  You should have your “elevator speech”, which is like a mini-resume, at the ready.  Work on your own personal brand.  Make sure your good work is well known.  Bah, humbug!  To an introvert that equals bragging and seeking the spotlight.  We just operate under the mistaken belief that someone is going to notice what we’ve contributed, and are crushed when the squeaking wheel loud person steals our thunder, our raise, our promotion. 

3.  The Pressure to Act Extroverted:  Yep, we all know this one.  No matter how good you are at it, it’s still an act that zaps your energy.

4.  Making Quick Decisions:  I have to admit that I’m usually pretty good at making quick decisions.  I work in a profession where I have to do that.  I’ve gotten good at it, but only because I spend a huge amount of time thinking things over, rehearsing scenarios, looking for better ways to do things.  You have to constantly be re-evaluating if you want to be a successful decisive introvert.  It doesn’t always come naturally.

5.  Lowered Privacy Boundaries:  We introverts like to get to know people slowly, and on our own terms.  I hate being in meetings were people are doing the small talk thing and asking all kinds of personal questions in the name of team bonding.

6.  Being Talked Over:  Do you ever have those days where you feel like you are invisible?  I’ve sure had them.  When everyone gets called on except you because no one realizes you’re in the room.  When you start talking and people just talk right over you?  They don’t happen to me so much on the job any more.  I’ve learned to stand out if I need to, but it’s an energy drain.  I learned one thing interesting about being interrupted while you are talking.  We introverts think it’s frightfully bad manners to do that.  We feel shut down and ignored.  To the extrovert who did the interrupting, it’s just that person thinking out loud (which extroverts seem to be prone to) and trying to build off your good idea (that team stuff again).

So that’s what I learned in the first half of the chapter.  The next part is “Characteristics that Shape Introverts”.  Stayed tuned for that!

 Hi.  I’m Chris.  I’m an introvert.  All of my postings tend to reflect my introvert world in some way or another.  Join me and like minded introverts for a special slant on the world.

25 thoughts on “Quiet Influence for Introverts

  1. 5 is interesting because I DON’T ask personal questions or any questions. I think it’s up to others to tell me things when they want to. I had no idea that was related to being an introvert; I don’t mind answering theirs! Number 6 yes. I hate that and last week I got pushed to the point of getting furiously angry. I turned into a little kid and said, “Would you please just listen to me for a moment?” It was a situation that affected ME significantly and I wasn’t satisfied that I’d been heard. On top of this, I’m 5’1″ and often AM invisible. This book sounds very interesting.

    • Oh, Martha, you have a double blessing…. introvert and 5’1″. You definitely could use some tips on how to be quietly influential. Keep commenting. I learn a lot from other people’s comments. I intend to go through the whole book, just giving snippets like this. Virtual hugs! 🙂

      • Yes — I’d really like better strategies than the ones I have, screaming in desperation and biting ankles!

  2. Good luck with the new role
    Thanks for the tips in the book – will get it!
    It’s interesting the whole thing about being an introvert and being able to do the typically extrovert thing when needed – but people having no idea how draining it is to do that- takes so much more effort from us to do than it does the extravert! And they wonder why we duck out of the after work drinks !

  3. Even if I live an introverted country,people still expect you to be extroverted.But why try to be something you’re not.You can’t tell an extrovert to become an introvert either.

  4. #6 jumped out at me. Major Hot Button!!! To make matters worse, I have a very soft voice. It drives me insane that I can make a comment and get talked over. Three minutes later Loudest-Voice-In-The-Room makes the IDENTICAL comment and he is hailed as the new Messiah. GRRRR!

    Good luck and best wishes with the new job. It’s an exciting new adventure 🙂

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  8. I did the most out of character thing for me in my whole life. After waiting over 9 months to find out if I was going to be approved for disability benefits, on my way home from physio 1 day a couple weeks ago, I saw a Service Canada office on my way home. I did a u-turn & went into the office in person. I asked to speak to someone about my disability claim. I met with a staff person & questioned every decision that had been made to that point in my case. I told the staffer I was not happy with the process & asks what I can do to speed up the process. Ten days later I got a phone call telling me I had been approved for benefits. Maybe being a squeaky wheel for the first time in my life paid off!

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