Charles Darwin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rosa Parks are all considered introverts, or Quiet Influencers. And, while introverts represent more than half of Americans, they are often misunderstood, even in the medical community. Psychologist Laurie Helgoe has explained in her book Introvert Power that introverts draw energy from within – by reflecting – and expend energy when interacting. The opposite is true for extroverts.
In the present-day workplace, where extroversion has become an ideal and represented by brainstorming and social events, a Quiet Influencer may appear to be disengaged or ‘quiet’, when really they are listening and observing first—before feeling comfortable to contribute in a meaningful way. To cope, introverts oftentimes conform to extrovert-driven business practices and colleagues, leading to exhaustion and ultimately burn out, even if the interactions are successful. The bestselling book Quiet points out that while introverts often feel the need to conform to the Extrovert Ideal, they would rather express themselves in writing than in conversation, and prefer depth over breadth – everyone can shine if they are given the right lighting.
Quiet Influence suggested that six strengths of introverts should be utilized in order to positively impact any work situation: quiet time (the foundation), preparation, engaged listening, focused conversations, writing, and even thoughtful use of social media. Things like remote work, alone time during work travel, or extensive 1:1 conversations at social events can help to optimize an introvert’s effectiveness.
Isabel Briggs Myers said: “The best-adjusted people are the ‘psychologically patriotic,’ who are glad to be what they are.” Let’s celebrate introversion by taking a moment to reflect…
MARY RABER JOHNSON, PhD, RAC
Lover of science. And cats. Firm believer that we each have a finite amount of energy, and its distribution is ours to decide.