For those of us who consider ourselves introverts, the world of work can be highly stressful for one simple reason: we never have uninterrupted time to do our work. Meetings, phone calls, manager check-ins all come at us and the expectation is that we stop our work and respond. No wonder we leave work at the end of the day skeptical that we accomplished anything.
But there is hope for us.
If you haven't watched Jason Fried's TED talk, please do so now. If you are an introvert as I am, you will cheer when Jason spells out the three steps managers can do to make offices a better place to work.
- No talk Thursdays
- Switching from active to passive forms of communication
- Cancel the next meeting on your calendar
This is why I believe Jason is the patron saint of introverts in the workplace, whether he intends to be or not. Or as my Quaker colleagues would say, "friend speaks my mind."
And now we have the high priestess of introverts in the workplace and she is Susan Cain. Her recent book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, is a thorough explanation of the dynamic between our extroverted culture and our introverted members. She lays out the implications for introverted leaders, extroverted leaders who have introverted employees, and parenting introverted children. You'll learn when collaboration kills creativity, why you experience a communication gap with certain people, and the myth of charismatic leadership. It helped me better understand why I described an open space layout at one of my clients as "offensive." This may be the book you give your extroverted manager to tell your story. Ms. Cain has given us introverts a tremendous gift and case for change in our workplaces. Use it.