Extroverts like to talk, and introverts like to listen. In a job seeker role, talking about yourself is important to success, and some people, usually more of the extroverted in our world, find that role relatively natural and comfortable. That’s not everyone, though. In fact Cain says 1/3 to maybe as many as ½ of all of us in the Western world are introverts most naturally, and would actually rather be with a few close friends or at home reading a book (or a good blog) than out socializing, making new connections in a meet-and-greet world.
Susan Cain takes a look at some of the heavyweights and heroes of today’s American business scene. She interviews several students at Harvard Business School. She attends a Tony Robbins walk-on-the-hot-coals you-can-do-anything seminar. She examines her own past career as a Wall Street lawyer. In each of these settings, arguably where the most ‘successful’ in our world can be found, the extrovert style is the standard of behavior required. In fact, don’t even consider, she observes, even coming to the party in these worlds if you intend to be a thinker first, or listen rather than speak, or study the situation cautiously before acting. Talking first is what works here.
She pokes holes in this John-Wayne shoot-from-the-hip philosophy of effective communication, pointing out that talkers do not have any better ideas than their quieter friends, and often times lack the clarity and innovativeness of introverts.
She cites convincing personal stories and examples of why introverts, like Mohandas Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks and Stephen Wozniak, to name a few of my favorites, each in their own introverted way, changed the world. Introverted leaders are more comfortable letting others shine. And introverted professionals ask the better questions, another characteristic of a dynamic contributor.
So why is the New York Times best-seller Quiet valuable for job seekers? If you are an ambivert or an introvert, this book raises the bar of confidence and self-assurance that quiet is okay, and often times more important to a good hire than how glib you can tell your story. This book provides a whole new worldview that respecting the quieter folks in the room is smart business.
We believe at the Interview Doctor that first defining yourself in writing, words that describe you, and a personal-example or story for each word, accomplishments outlined to feature your strengths, will get you noticed. And this strategy is made-to-order for an introvert, comfortable in being a thinker first, who carefully prepares their stories about themselves in advance, and practices them with friends.
If you can ‘tell me about yourself’ with clarity and focus, you can succeed in an interview. This book will help you better understand your natural discomfort with the job-seeking process, and help you gut it out through the awkwardness with preparation and thoughtful responses.
I met Susan Cain via a TED talk YouTube video – her TED talk the most watched of 2012. She models both sincerity and awkwardness in that talk. What shines in both the talk and her book Quiet is a well-defined new voice regarding the ‘power of introverts.’ Her talk is worth a look. Her book is worth the read.