Here is a great 19-minute TED Talk by Susan Cain, author of the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Below are excerpts from her speech.
“I got the message that somehow my quiet and introverted style of being was not necessarily the right way to go, that I should be trying to pass as more of an extrovert. And I always sensed deep down that this was wrong and that introverts were pretty excellent just as they were.”
“When it comes to creativity and to leadership, we need introverts doing what they do best. A third to a half of the population are introverts — a third to a half.”
“You need to understand what introversion is. It’s different from being shy. Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation.”
“Extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time — these things aren’t absolute — but a lot of the time. So the key then to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”
“When it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though introverts tend to be very careful, much less likely to take outsize risks — which is something we might all favor nowadays.”
“Research by Adam Grant at the Wharton School has found that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do, because when they are managing proactive employees, they’re much more likely to let those employees run with their ideas, whereas an extrovert can, quite unwittingly, get so excited about things that they’re putting their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily then bubble up to the surface.”
“Culturally we need a much better balance. We need more of a yin and yang between these two types. This is especially important when it comes to creativity and to productivity, because when psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people, what they find are people who are very good at exchanging ideas and advancing ideas, but who also have a serious streak of introversion in them.”
Three Calls for Action:
(1) “Stop the madness for constant group work . . . I deeply believe our offices should be encouraging casual, chatty cafe-style types of interactions — you know, the kind where people come together and serendipitously have an exchange of ideas . . . But we need much more privacy and much more freedom and much more autonomy at work.”
(2) “Go to the wilderness . . . I’m not saying that we all have to now go off and build our own cabins in the woods and never talk to each other again, but I am saying that we could all stand to unplug and get inside our own heads a little more often.”
(3) “Take a good look at what’s inside your own suitcase and why you put it there.”
Extroverts: Take things out of your suitcase “every chance you get and grace us with your energy and your joy.”
Introverts: “You probably have the impulse to guard very carefully what’s inside your own suitcase. And that’s okay. But occasionally . . . I hope you will open up your suitcases for other people to see, because the world needs you and it needs the things you carry.”
Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership and Talent Consultant
TED Talk – Susan Cain: The power of introverts