Introverts have something to say

Why introverts can be extra-powerful

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Consequent engagements typically incorporate collaborative cross-functional planning sessions and during these events the stakeholders consciously work to ensure that extravert participants do not dominate. As a result, we typically find that, for all of the great qualities that extraverts bring to the discussions, introverts commonly provide breakthrough insights that only good listeners can generate.

In her recent Fast Company article on introverts, Angela Schenk, founder of Quiet Creative LLC, suggests that introverts can break out of their shells by leaning into their strengths, harnessing the power of their passion, and learning to use their anxiety to their advantage. In effect, playing chess even while the extraverts are playing checkers.

We have seen Schenk’s recommendations work in practice, even though introverts instinctively prefer listening to speaking. In our engagements, we have found that introverts can often speak softly and carry a big stick. And we have consistently observed that introverts are greatly respected due to the quality and economy of their contributions when they do muster up the energy to speak. Finally, while a little counterintuitive, even though extraverts commonly enjoy thinking out loud, they also seem to be naturally wired to stop talking when introverts talk.

If you are an introvert you are in good company. Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Sir Isaac Newton, and Abraham Lincoln were all part of this distinctive yet quiet group. Since introverts are usually good listeners, they tend to be good synthesizers, ask thoughtful questions, and help teammates produce better answers as a result.

Introverts are essential for cross-functional teams to be successful, in combination with extraverts, when solving complex problems and developing interdisciplinary solutions. With respect to this opportunity we can learn from another famous introvert, Mahatma Gandhi, who wrote, “in a gentle way you can shake the world.”


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