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  • Writer's pictureKevin B Ebert

Listen for the Quiet One

About this #MyDay Post

I started listening to Susan Cain's book "Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" and a story she tells early in the book is about an exercise where a group of students are given 18 items to use for survival if stranded in some remote area and told to pick from the items the most important to the least important. Their list is then given a score based on their picks compared to what is considered the best answer by a survivalist expert. Then the students are paired together and go through the same selection process, but this time as a team. Obviously a lot of debate ensues and the priority of the most important items are invariably different than what you would pick. Again, the group is scored on their picks of the most important to least important based on the same criteria used when the individuals rated the items. The students compare their individual scores against what the group received and the group is considered to have failed if any one person scored higher than the group.

I'm sure you've done this exercise in one form or another, I know I have. The point Susan makes is that, when filmed, the same students become embarrassed when reviewing the video because they see how they discounted and dismissed the input of the more quiet participants, a.k.a., introverts. My point to this #MyDay post isn't to say that all introverts have the best ideas. No, it's simply to point out and recognize that there are introverts among you and as such you should be cognizant to include their voice in the conversations.

Introverts who are comfortable with themselves learn over the years how to make their voices heard, but some are still searching for their voices. I have come to learn about and embrace my introverted tenancies but still struggle with having my voice heard. Luckily, I've have/had great leaders that recognized this about me and have gone out of their ways to include me in the conversation. It is liberating to be heard and valued for my ideas, even when I was struggling to get my point across in larger groups. As leaders, it's important to learn how your team communicates and get their point across by balancing the cornucopia of personalities you have within the team.

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