The Power of Silence
Introverts are still largely misunderstood and undervalued in our society, our educational system and in business organizations. Introverts don’t raise their voices. They often remain silent in meetings. They tend to hold back. They quite often feel socially awkward. They don’t ask for help but will rather try to figure it out themselves. They are no divas, longing for attention. They are low maintenance. They don’t self-promote. They don’t toot their own horn. They will not tell you at every opportunity what a wonderful job they did – because they expect you to see it for yourself. And they hope you’re smart enough to see it!
Not In Your Face
Unfortunately it is the loud people, the self-promoters, the ones who toot their own horn who often get noticed and ultimately supported and promoted. They are the ones who don’t hesitate to ask, who demand support, who push for pay raises, who expect to be promoted, who don’t leave any opportunity out to show off their (often questionable) accomplishments. Unfortunately they also have been known to take the ideas of those who tend to hold back and run with them, claiming credit for what they were not even able to come up with themselves.
That’s where managers and leaders need to step in and stay neutral towards all of their employees: They need to recognize accomplishments of all of their people – whether loud and in your face or silent and quietly getting things done. They need to find ways to listen, not only to those who speak up, but also to those who hold back or are silent (especially in meetings). Leaders simply need to learn how to listen to those who don’t make themselves heard.
And that’s the problem: Managers and leaders tend to be blinded by the obvious and miss the less obvious, the less in your face. I have met seasoned and experienced executives who honestly believed that introvert employees are lower performers than extrovert employees. They believed that the loud get more done than the silent. They believed that they were doing right by their organization to promote the self-promoters, calling them A-Players and High-Performers. And those managers and leaders were not ill-willing or mean at all. They were actually shockingly nice and friendly people. They just knew no better.
I think that kind of mindset is part of the disengagement problem we’re facing in today’s business organizations: We’re still talking about A-Players and A-Teams, about Go-Getters and Rainmakers, attributing the ability to make shit happen to a “chosen elite”, those who make themselves heard and seen. The flip side of that approach is that we automatically disengage and devalue the rest of our workforces – those who don’t put themselves on pedestals, who don’t seek the stage, who are silently committed to doing their best, who are quietly engaged.
A New Paradigm For Work And Life
At The Energy Paradigm we’re dedicated to bring about a radical paradigm shift of how we look at people: Of how we work, lead and employ. In our 20+ years of experience interviewing, assessing and profiling specialists, managers and leaders we still have to meet the one person who does not want to do well. We also still have to meet somebody who does not have anything to give. Quite to the contrary: What we’ve found is that everyone has some talent. Everyone is driven to do well. Everyone has a purpose. What we need to do is to open our eyes to see the motivation, the drive, the spark in everyone, to find a way to activate it and make it work. That’s the new paradigm for work and life: To see the talent and potential in everyone and to place people where they can shine and make a difference. To value every employee. To understand that everyone has something to bring to the plate. To realize that in the end every single person matters.
Do You See?
If you can shift your perspective away from exceptionalism towards seeing the unique potential of every individual. If you look beyond the obvious toward the more subtle, the talent, potential and energy of your people. If you use that new and more subtle lens, you will find talent, purpose and meaning in everyone.
From that perspective and with that lens, your introverts actually become your high potentials: They think before they speak. They take time to reason and come up with a good solution. They don’t wing it. They are driven to get it right. They don’t bullshit their way through. They pay attention to detail and quality. They are precise. They weigh their words. They read in between the lines. They notice more than most other people. They are the ones who will come up with solutions you didn’t even think of.
Imagine their contribution to your organization if you could find a way to fully tap into that power. What it takes is for you to give them a safe environment to be, to share, to contribute, to make themselves heard, to make their magic happen.
Many blessings, Dr. Vic