Here’s a great book to help introverts (continue to) rock the workplace. It’s called Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference by Jennifer Kahnweiler.
In the beginning, Kahnweiler identifies 5 skills that introverts rock: thoughtful use of social media, writing, preparation, engaged listening, and focused conversations. Then there’s a quiz to help you assess where your strengths lie among those categories. And the quiz is actually helpful. I like the way it helped me listen to where I am already an expert and which skills I could work on a bit.
And for the rest of this short read, you’ll get practical tips on how to hone each skill, as well as rein it in. For instance, we know that introverts need to build in quiet time into their workday (YES! Can you say it again for the executives in the back and anyone who suggests open offices?!) but she also warns what becoming a workplace loner can do. Throughout she gives some practical tips on how to put each skill into practice, even in cubicle land.
Hint: leave! Go for a walk! Put on your headphones and walk away. 🙂
She strikes a nice balance between acknowledging the skills that are particularly strong amongst introverts without making us feel “less than” our extroverted peers. But she also is real in talking about how the workplace typically celebrates more extroverted traits, so she cautions against overuse of / overreliance on an introvert’s skill and what consequences can arise when that happens. For instance, introverts are skilled at what she calls preparation – and what I think of as background research. We introverts benchmark how other organizations and teams have approached a problem, what has been tried for something in the past, what solutions worked, we read up on someone before we meet, and so on. But when overused, that means we can get stuck in an endless information gathering phase, when really we’ve gathered sufficient information and it’s time to move into action.
The book is short, practical, and a good reminder of how introverts (me!) can be better stewards of our innate skills & abilities to maximum effect. Read this if you’re feeling like a misfit introvert in an extroverted industry, role, or workplace, or if you just need some good ideas and tips for getting unstuck (because maybe you’re in endless info-gathering).