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5 Reasons Why What You Know About Your Introversion Can Limit You.

I found this interesting article about misconceptions Introverts can have about themselves and the negative effect these misconceptions can have. The article is below and here is the link


Today I think about how being mindful of  my preference for introversion may affect my actions. Like a self-fulfilling prophesy, this knowledge occupies my thoughts and sometimes prevents me from doing what I’d like to, what I should do. So the question is would it be better to be ignorant of who I am?

How I direct my energy. Because I’m an introvert, I should prefer not going to an evening business networking event after a hard day at work. Introverts should take time to recharge their battery, not exert themselves by socializing after a day of being around people.

Instead: I have the energy to attend social or networking events despite believing that my energy should be saved for reading a good book on my Kindle, while munching on Gummy Bears. I must fight the generalization.

How I communicate. Extraverts rule the world when it comes to small talk. Because I’m an introvert, my ability to make small talk consists of 140 characters of carefully chosen words. Entering a room full of strangers, expected to make small talk, should make me anxious and want to run from the room screaming like a lunatic.

Instead: I can make small talk with the best of them, as long as I’m not battling a motor mouth for airtime. I’ve often dominated the conversation in the lunchroom much to the surprise of my colleagues. I must fight the belief.

How I listen. As an introvert, I’m supposed to listen to people…and like it? Accordingly I should actively listen and wait until the person has said his/her 5,000 words. Extraverts, according to common belief, are off the hook when it comes to listening intently–they’re free to talk nonstop because…that’s the way it is.

Instead: I find it hard to listen to people who believe they’re all that. If there were an off button on some of the loquacious Neanderthals I meet, my right index finger would ache. I am totally cool listening to people who believe in equal rights in conversation. I must politely end a one-sided conversation, as well as be cognizant of my over talking.

How I learn best. Introverts are said to learn best through writing and research, rather than by talking to others. This implies that we’d rather receive e-mails than talk with our colleagues’ in their cubicles.

Instead: It is true that I enjoy writing, but I don’t get my kicks by spending a whole day at my computer researching topics like the Sabin Oxley Act and writing a 30-page whitepaper on it. I like talking with my colleagues as long as it’s productive and doesn’t drain my time, so I must extend my self more often.

How about those meetings. Apparently I can’t participate at meetings because I think too much before talking and, thus, lose my chance to express my brilliant thoughts. The same goes for brainstorming. When others are coming up with hundreds of ideas and throwing spaghetti against the wall, I’m supposed to remain quiet until I have an idea that will stick.

Instead: While it’s true that some extraverts suck the air out of a meeting room, I can throw my weight around as good as the next guy. True, I’m not a fan of brainstorming, but sometimes it works if facilitated by the right person. Instead of over thinking, I must speak up more often and express my great thoughts.

I’ll be the first to admit that knowing the characteristics of an introvert sometimes shapes my actions at work, as well as in my daily life. I wonder how I’d act if I was ignorant of who I am. Would I act more like an extravert? Nah.

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Valuing Introverts In A World Built For The More Outgoing – Irish Examiner 28/4/15 – Featuring David Keane

Elizabeth O’Neill interviewed David Keane this month about how Introverts get by in a world made largely made for Extroverts. It was published in the Irish Examiner on the 28th April.

Here is a link to the article as it appeared in the paper, however, some of the last page was cut off so below that is the article in full:

Click HERE to read the article in the Irish Examiner


The open plan introvert – Elizabeth O’Neill

Recently for this newspaper, I wrote about an eye-opening trip to Cuba where I cycled around the Island and drank many mojitos. Not at the same time, well not always. What I didn’t mention was that much of the time on the bike I spent alone within the group – with some travellers just ahead, or just behind. I could catch up for a quick chat, or I could fall behind and let my mind wander – and oh, how I like to let my mind wander!

Small talk is not a preference of mine. And small talk while concentrating on avoiding potholes is just too much to ask, especially when it’s interrupting the scenery. Of course on the other hand it’s important to share experiences, to cement them in your mind. So for me being alone within a group is often the default position. I like to maintain my autonomy.

While I enjoy meeting new people and socialising, attending parties where the majority of people will be strangers, is hard work. And an open plan office with a sea of colleagues can only be dealt with in parcels, that’s parcels of people and parcels of tasks.

I’m from a family of introverts, and it would be fair to say I was labelled the “shy one” growing up. With maturity I’ve learned to overcome most of the social anxiety, but introversion is hardwired and an imperative. And the two are not mutually exclusive.

It was Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who first divided the world into introverts or extraverts and put us all on a sliding scale somewhere between the extremities of the two. A person who falls slap bang in the middle is an ambivert – did you know you could possibly be an ambivert? By his own definition Jung was introverted. Introversion is a preference for aloneness, where energy comes from within. Very simply, other people are exhausting. Likewise, an extrovert does not necessarily mean an exhibitionist or outgoing personality, it simply means someone who is engerised by social interactions and other people.

Discussing this with a friend, we realised we had similar reactions from people when we chose our own company. Over the years I have been called “aloof”, “a snob” and “stuck up”. I know because I’ve been told a number of times “you seemed like such hard work” once a person gets to know me. My friend had a similar story when she chose to sit with a book for lunchtime company over her work colleagues. She also told me about Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

In the US, Quiet has sparked a revolution and Susan Cain is now so busy talking about it that I couldn’t pin her down for an interview. I did read the book and it was very comforting and insightful. We are told is it okay to be alone, it is okay to like the quiet, introverts are more creative, quiet children need to be nurtured and introverts can be leaders and revolutionaries – look at Gandhi, and Rosa Parks! However, the sceptic in me feels that Susan Cain is preaching to the choir, she has written about introverts, for introverts and is telling us we’re all wonderful.

There are many things about being an introvert – a shy introvert – I’ve spent years overcoming, mainly through feeling the discomfort and getting on with the task anyway. It is not easy but habit helps as does aging which dampens down the self-consciousness. I also work in a busy, dynamic environment that is full of extraverts and social engagement, so small talk has improved through habit. My main strategy is to focus, and drown out the noise.

A reassignment in work has recently put my introversion into stark relief. For this reason, I decided to find out where on the scale I lie.

Corporations sometimes use the Briggs-Myers psychometric test for team building and career development. This test was created as a barometer for Carl Jung’s theories on personality types. Introversion and extraversion is only one element of it. David Keane, a psychologist from Davitt Corporate Psychology puts me through my paces on the test and I came out as an introvert. But a moderate one, I scored 17 out of a possible 70. In his experience, David says introverts are in the minority and he sees a 60/40 split between the two. According to Susan Cain, there’s a one in three chance of being introverted, and the world is not skewed in our favour.

David says “the world is pretty much set up for extraverts, so introverts know what it’s like to operate in a world for extraverts, they live in it every day. Schools, offices, colleges, are all set up for the extravert.”

“For the extravert, everything is externalised, they get energised by interacting with people, so if they have a day of talking to people on the phone and a couple of long meetings where they felt like they got a lot done, they’ll go home more energised than when they arrived. Whereas if an introvert has to do that, spend all day in meetings, they’d just be absolutely shattered at the end of the day.”

I explain that three daily meetings, while necessary, leave me completely drained. So much so I won’t then answer the phone for social calls at home. I couldn’t figure out this exhaustion at first, I thought it was the newness of the assignment, but now it’s beginning to fall into place. David says “the novelty factor would have an effect but that’s really the result of being an introvert in an extravert’s world.”

So the question is, how can an introvert, even a moderate one, operate in a world that is set up for extraverts?

David reassures me introverts can happily work in an extraverted world. Introversion, like extraversion is a preference, not an absolute, therefore you can work like an extravert, it just take more effort. He correlates this to writing your signature with you other hand, “it feels unnatural, but it’s completely doable”. The main strategy for an introvert to adopt, is to schedule down time to recharge.

We also discuss the prevalence of open plan offices – the idea is apparently to foster communications. This is counterintuitive for introverts, who will turn further inwards, with no place to hide. David says “it’s up to the managers to find ways to help introverts to work better, such as taking a laptop into a quiet room to concentrate, or have quieter spaces.” Well, one can only dream, as one tends to do. Ultimately David advises that it’s up to the introvert to find ways and space to work best for themselves. So we’re back to self-reliance and being alone.

The pros of being an introvert

* more creative
* can focus for longer periods
* not fazed by spending time alone
* good listeners
* think before they speak

The cons of being an introvert

* easily distracted
* get over stimulated by too many people
* can be perceived as unfriendly
* an aversion to networking


Good Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Be Nice – From HBR April 2015

Panepinto’s article in April’s edition of the HBR whittles down the main lessons he took from Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval’s book The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. Nice may seem incompatible with business to some, but in fact a huge body of research has shown that how much others like you often determines whether they are going to want to buy from you, work with you or indeed for you. Key lessons from this book are:

Let the other person be smarter – nobody likes a know it all, while it is important to show you do have the capabilities, knowledge and expertise for the job, don’t try too hard to be the smartest person in the room – particularly when dealing with clients – try to find a balance, which is often where a good mentor can come in, particularly for those who are less experienced

Keep it simple – as an expert in your field, your client will want you to break it down and make it easy to follow – not because they are less intelligent than you, but because this is not their area of expertise – which is why they have hired/ are considering hiring you. Try to sit down with your client and have a nice conversation, not one filled with jargon that they will struggle to understand

Ask, don’t tell – this is key to being not just a nice leader, but an effective one. Get others on board by asking for their input and making them feel a part of the process, rather than just a cog in a wheel they will be more engaged in the process as a result

Don’t argue so much – Panepinto quite rightly points out that slipping over the line from being challenging to being argumentative greatly reduces your chances of getting chosen for a project or team – remember – it’s a collaborative effort

Everyone is worth a listen – all ideas are worth hearing and may have some value, listen to the idea before moving on


So, what can we take from these lessons? Good leadership isn’t only about being tough and focusing on the bottom line (although both certainly have their place!). Emotional Intelligence and being human about your interactions can go a long way towards good leadership, so remember when you go into your next client or team meeting – be nice!






We would like to invite you to…

The 2015 EQ Summit, held in London, England on Friday March the 20th! 

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EQ Summit

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Making Dumb Groups Smarter – From HBR December 2014

While groups are an important part of working life, they don’t always work effectively for a number of reasons. The success or otherwise of a group depends on the ability to effectively share all information held by the members of the group so that the group can work together in a cohesive manner. This however, is not always the reality and when groups fail, they usually do so as a result of one of the following:

  1. Amplification of errors
  2. Cascade effects
  3. Polarising groups
  4. Focusing on what everybody knows


  1. Amplifying Errors:

This happens in a number of ways, including:

The planning fallacy – underestimating the costs and time required to complete a project.

Over confidence leads us to believe that our predictions are more accurate than they actually are and these errors have both been found to be aggravated in groups – they tend to be even more optimistic than individuals.

The representative heuristic, which leads us to think that things which are similar in one way are similar in other ways has been found to be increased in groups compared to individuals.

The sunk-cost fallacy occurs when people stick with a project which is failing because of the time and resources already invested in it. It has been shown that groups have also been found to be even more likely than individuals to be increasingly committed to a plan that is failing, especially if they identify strongly with the group.

Framing effects, which refers to how we view things, depending on the way in which they are presented to us.

  1. Cascade Effects

This refers to a trickle in one direction that turns into a cascade and it can happen when people get the impression from the outset, possibly from the group leader, that the general consensus is going in a certain direction and others, individually concur, for a number of reasons, which include not wanting to appear ignorant or adversarial.  As each person concurs, it creates a cascade effect whereby others joining the group or decision making process go along with what they think is the general consensus. Individuals then self-censor themselves and don’t voice opposing arguments. This can result in the group making the wrong decision as opposing views and information are not given airtime.

  1. Polarising Groups

This happens when a person who is already inclined to take risks, consults with another and becomes more inclined to take the risk. Group deliberation in this instance appears to cause a “risky shift”. The opposite has also been found, whereby when a person who is more cautious in terms of risk taking consults with another, they become even less risk inclined.


  1. Focusing on “What Everybody Knows”

This happens when most of the group have most of the information but some members have additional information that is either not shared, or not focused on. The “common knowledge effect” occurs when information held by all carries more weight than information held by only a few members of the group. Common information has been found to have a disproportionality large impact on discussions and conclusions, while information that is held by only a few, is given disproportionality little weight, and this can lead to poor decisions.



Making Groups Wiser:


Group failures can have disastrous effects, however there are some practical safeguards to the above pitfalls. These include:

Silencing the leader – by expressing their own views, a leader can unwittingly promote self-censorship. Others may not want to be seen to disagree with the leader and as a result will not want to give a conflicting view or opinion. To combat this, the leader should indicate their desire to hear independent information from the outset and refuse to take a firm view until all the information has emerged.

Priming critical thinking – Research has found that when people are given a “getting along” task to do before engaging in a group deliberation, they are much more likely to stay silent in the face of opposing views than those who were given a critical thinking task to perform. If the leader of the group encourages information disclosure from the beginning people are more likely to speak up.

Rewarding group success – cascades are less likely to happen if people know that they have nothing to gain by a correct individual decision and everything to gain from a correct group decision. Identifying with the groups success will encourage people to speak up and against the general consensus with information that could be critical to the outcome.

Assigning roles – the pitfall of focusing on “what everyone knows” is less likely to happen if every member of the group is assigned a specific role – before deliberations begin. If the group members recognise that each person has something potentially different to bring to the group from the outset, they will be more open to hearing it and giving it the appropriate consideration.

Establishing contrarian teams – doing this involves appointing a “red team” whose mission it is to defeat the primary team by exposing mistakes and potential vulnerabilities and are given clear incentives to do so.

The Delphi method – this mixes the pros of individual decision making with social learning. Individuals offer first round votes anonymously. Then they vote again, with a requirement that the second round estimates have to fall within the middle quartiles of the first round. The process is repeated until they converge on an estimate. The process is often interspersed with group discussion. The anonymity of the process offers protection to the individual group members and therefore reduces the problem of self-silencing.


Therefore, in conclusion, it appears that while there are numerous pitfalls that groups can unwittingly fall prey to, by being aware of these, we can take preventative steps to avoid them and reap more of the rewards that are traditionally associated with group work.