Susan Cain: “Quiet” | Talks at Google

>>Alana Weiss: Hello and welcome. My name
is Alana Weiss and today it is my pleasure to welcome Susan Cain to the [email protected]
series. Today we’ll hear about her new book Quiet:
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Next week you’ll see its number
four on the New York Times Bestseller List and Susan will soon be giving a presentation
at TED 2012. Before Susan became a writer, she practiced
corporate law for seven years representing clients like J.P. Morgan and General Electric.
She, then, worked as a negotiations consultant training all kinds of people from Hedge Fund
managers to TV producers to college students negotiating their first salary. She went to
Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Reflecting on these experiences Susan writes,
“From all this, you might guess that I’m a hardcore, wonderfully, self confident, pound
the table kind of person, when in fact I’m just the opposite.” So today, in a room full of introverts and
their champions, Susan will share her research and firsthand knowledge about the power of
introverts. Thank you and help me in welcoming Susan. [applause]>>Susan Cain: Thank you, Alana. Hi everyone. Well, I have come to believe from researching
and writing this book for about seven years now, started back in 2005, I’ve come to believe
that introversion and extroversion are as profound a part of who we are, as core to
our identities as our gender. And that therefore it’s very important to understand where we
truly fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. And when I say this, I’m not talking about
where we appear to fall, or who we appear to be because most of us, in this extroverted
culture of ours, act much more extroverted than we really are. So what I’m asking is who you are deep down
if you could spend your time exactly as you please, your workdays, your weekends who would
you be? Would you be more of an introvert or would you be more of an extrovert? And this is a really important question so
I want us to get to the answer, get to the bottom of it before we move forward with the
talk. And so what I’m gonna ask you to do is to break up into groups of six quickly
and share with your group a private and personal memory from your childhood that you think
illustrates who you really are. And then we’re gonna take the most private and personal and
profound of these memories and share them with the entire audience. [laughter] And yeah, that’s right I’m just kidding. [laughter] And if there are any consultants in the audience,
please don’t do this to people in future talks, introverts hate this kind of stuff. [laughter] So let me just though get a show of hands
how many of you were thinking, when you still thought that I might be serious, like how
can I get out of here right now — [laughter] without insulting the speaker? [laughter] Yeah, yeah. And how many of you would describe yourself
as introverts? Wow, oh my gosh could it be a hundred percent?
No. [laughter] Any extroverts in the room? [laughter] Okay maybe. I would say we have about five
extroverts. So that’s good because you can tell us your perspective. [laughter] So, of course also the important thing is
not only to identify who we are but why are we the way we are? What is it that makes an
introvert an introvert or an extrovert an extrovert? And the truth is there are as many
answers to this question as there are personality psychologists. But boiling it down, what really
distinguishes us is that introverts prefer environments that are lower stimulation environments.
So I’m talking now about social stimulation so by that I mean you’d rather maybe have
a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed go to a thumping party full of strangers. But I’m not talking only about social stimulation
this also plays out in things like how much noise you like to have on in the background,
how bright the lights are, how bright you like your lights to be. Even something as
crazy as if I place a drop of lemon juice on your tongue, if I could do that right now,
we would find that the introverts in the room would salivate more [laughs] in response to
the lemon juice than our five extroverts would, because introverts respond more to stimulation
and therefore prefer lower amounts of it. And this is so important to understand because
what it tells us is that if we want to optimize our lives and to be operating at our fullest
powers and with our fullest amount of energy, we really need to put ourselves in environments
that have the proper amount of stimulation for us. And there’s one interesting experiment by
the psychologist Russell Geen that has even found that if you give introverts and extroverts
math problems to solve with different levels of background noise, the introverts will do
better when the background noise is lower and the extroverts will solve the problems
better when the background noise is higher. So we all have our different sweet spots and
then, of course, the question becomes most of life is kind of a one size fits all environment:
our schools, our workplaces are like this. So how do you design things, how can we think
about ways to tailor the amount of stimulation for individual preferences? And the fuel that lead me to write this book,
to spend the last seven years doing it, is that I have been distressed to see that our
world is primarily set up in a way that I believe maximizes the energies of extroverts
while not those of introverts. I think the bias in our culture against introversion
it is so deep and it’s so profound and we internalize it from such an early age we don’t
even realize that we’re doing it. But from the minute that you’re introduced to a preschool
classroom, when you were a young child, you’re immediately in an environment where you’re
expected to be happy in a group. And teachers have been found, all the way through at every
age level of the educational system, the vast majority of teachers believe, thank you, oh
much better. The vast majority of teachers believe that the ideal student is an extrovert.
Even though, by the way, introverted kids get better grades. And same thing is true at the work place,
in our work places, and you can tell me what your experiences are at Google, I would to
hear about this when we get to the Q and A later. But, in general, in the work place,
we now live in an environment that it’s increasingly open plan offices where people don’t have
very much privacy, they’re working in groups for a lot of the time. And studies tell us
that introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions even though research
by Adam Grant from the Wharton School, recent ground breaking research, has found that introverted
leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do. And I say all this, when I say this is not
to take anything away from extroverts, I think extroversion is a really enormously appealing
personality style, it’s just to say that this tendency, this kind of chauvinism that we
have, this two tier structure of how we view personality leads to a colossal waste of talent
and of energy and of happiness and we need to be adopting much more of a yin and yang
approach of balance between the two styles. And I wanna talk about how this plays out
in our lives and I wanna show you why it is so important that we get to this place of
yin and yang and why we will all be the better for it; introverts for sure, but all of us. And to do this I’m gonna start in an unlikely
place. I’m gonna take you on a very quick tour of the animal kingdom [chuckles] starting
with a colony of fruit flies. So it turns out that there are introverts
and extroverts in almost every single species of the animal kingdom. I mean, who knew this
[chuckles] but I found this out when I was doing my research. Many species have introverts
and extroverts. So down to the level of fruit flies, there are what biologists call sitter
fruit flies who kind of sit still and kind of hop up [chuckles] and down in place. And
then there are rover fruit flies who explore the outer margins of fruit fly society. [laughter] And the reason that they do this, the reason
that many species are structured this way is because the two types have very different
kinds of survival strategies. And so now I’m gonna move a little bit up
the animal kingdom and I’m gonna take you to the world of pumpkinseed fish. An evolutionary biologist named David Sloan
Wilson did a really fascinating experiment with a pond full of these fish where he came
to the pond and he dropped this gigantic trap right into the middle of the pond, an event
which he says from the fishes perspective must have seemed like a space ship landing
right in the middle of their backyard. And the fish responded really differently
to this foreign presence. Some of the fish, the introvert fish, responded by saying, “I’m
not getting anywhere near that thing [chuckles].” And they hovered on the sidelines of the pond
and as a result they made it completely impossible for David Sloan Wilson to catch them in his
trap. So had that trap been a real predator those fish, the introverted fish, would have
been the ones that survived. The extroverted fish immediately had to investigate
what this [chuckles] trap was and they went swimming right up to it with no, with nothing
standing in their way and, of course, they were immediately trapped. Had it been a real
predator they would have been zonked. But it’s not so simple because then Sloan
Wilson comes back a few days later with a fishing net and he manages to scoop up the
introverted fish who had eluded him the first time around and he brings them back to his
lab. And what he finds in this environment is that the extroverted fish do much better
because this is an alien world, it’s a world of unfamiliarity and extroverts tend to be
more comfortable very quickly in unfamiliar environments. And so in this case, the extroverted fish
started eating more quickly and going about their business more quickly while the introverted
fish were kind of hanging back and not faring well. So this is all kind of a parable [chuckles]
to tell us that there really are different kinds of strategies for success and strategies
for the survival and thriving of our species. And so now I’m gonna come back to human beings
finally and I want first to talk to you about children, about human children. Let me ask you, how many people in the audience
here have kids? Okay, so probably about two-thirds of you. But even for those of you who don’t
have children, the reason that what I’m gonna tell you is important is that human children
they haven’t yet absorbed the social norms of our society and so therefore they act the
way they are really meant to act, the way they truly are. And so if we look at the behavior
of children we learn a lot about ourselves. So, of you parents, how many of you have ever
been to some kind of Mommy and me class or a Daddy and me class? [pause] Okay, not many of you. So let me explain what
this is ’cause it’s gonna be relevant. This is basically a class where a parent or a babysitter
takes a young child usually a baby or a two year old, maybe a three year old and you all
sit around in a circle. I’m gonna show you what it looks like. Yeah — [laughter] it looks like this. You all sit around in
a circle and you sing songs and you play musical instruments and like that. Now what you will find in these classes is
that some of the children will behave like the sitter fish meaning they will stay closely
by their parents’ sides, they’ll sit in their parents’ laps, they won’t really participate
and they will look either scared or just reserved. And then others of the children like that
[chuckles] little baby in the read jumpsuit who’s right in the middle of the room he’s
a rover child. And so he doesn’t know where his Mom is, it’s all good with him, he’s perfectly
comfortable. [pause] Now the thing is that the parents of the sitter
children in this kind of a situation tend to feel pretty worried about their offspring.
They feel like, “Wow, my child’s not getting much out of this class and maybe this is gonna
be the story of his or her life. Maybe he or she will always have trouble participating
and won’t get the fruits of what life has to offer.” And this is a really understandable
worry but I want to broaden the picture for you of what’s really happening with a child
who behaves this way. That child is doing what psychologists call
paying alert attention to things. So it may appear as if the child is sitting inertly
and passively and not taking anything in, but that’s not what’s happening. They’re actually,
they’re learning by observing and they’re observing in a very intent way. And so very
often with these children, I see it again and again, it may take them minutes or days
or weeks or months to actually plunge into the situation at hand, but when they do they
already know the social rules, they already know the subtle nuances of what’s going on
because they have been paying attention all that time. And this form of paying attention to things,
of noticing things that are scary but noticing things in general at a subtle level, this
carries through with these children all the way into adulthood. It becomes a kind of way
of dealing with the world and a way of processing information. So, for example, if you give these children
when they’re a little bit older this kind of a puzzle to solve where you have two pictures
that seem to be very similar and you ask them to figure out what the subtle differences
are between them, these kinds of children will spend much more time than other children
will comparing the two. In the lab you can actually see their eyes darting back and forth
more times than those of bolder children. And they more often get the right answers. And this kind of thing continues as these
kids grow up. So — [pause] you give them puzzles to solve, adult size
puzzles, they take more time to do it. They get better grades in school, they get, they’re
more likely to get Phi Beta Kappa keys. And then the other thing [chuckles] and I’m
sorry about this extroverts but introverts have actually been found to know more [chuckles]
about many subjects. In one study of college freshman they tested
the students of their knowledge of, what was it, 21 different subjects. It was like everything
from art to astronomy to physics to statistics and they found that the introverts knew more
about all of these subjects. And what’s relevant about this is that the
introverts are not smarter, as far as IQ goes the two groups, introverts and extroverts,
totally similar IQ. So instead what’s happening here, the advantage that introverts have in
these kinds of intellectual problem solving puzzles is the very behavioral style for which
introverts often criticized, the very behavioral style that has you sitting still more, reflecting
more, being more reserved, being more just slow to process stuff, that is the flip side
of the behavioral style that helps you in problem solving. Now another way in which these kinds of children
grow up to play really important [chuckles] roles in our culture is introverts and extroverts
have very different attitudes to risk taking, profoundly different attitudes. Extroverts are much more likely, when they
see something that they want, to go for it. And this actually goes down to the level of
neurochemistry. Extroverts have been found to have more active reward networks in their
brain so that if they see something that they want or if they’re contemplating a promotion
or whatever it is literally their reward networks become more activated and they get excited
and this is accompanied by all kinds of joyful and fizzy emotions. And it’s actually these
emotions, I think, that make extroverts such delightful company. They’re kind of like champagne
bubble emotions that come with the contemplation of a reward. And this can be a really great
thing because it helps us to seize the day when we have these kinds of feelings. But the downside to this way of being, is
that when you’re that focused on a reward you don’t see the warning signals that are
also coming at you saying, “Hum. maybe you should stop. Maybe there’s a problem here.”
I mean you literally don’t see them as much. And introverts are much less likely to fall
prey to that dynamic. I mean they sometimes do, this stuff is not black and white, but
they’re less likely to fall prey to it. And so this is not to say that introverts
don’t also take risks ’cause they do. But they tend to be more slow and more circumspect
about it. One study of a group of traders at a London
investment bank found that the introverts were the most successful traders, probably
because of this way of processing information. And another example of this would be somebody
like a Warren Buffett who is a self described introvert and is famous for sitting out on
market bubbles that other people fell prey to ’cause he is the type of person, he’s actually
said that the key to investing for him is not his knowledge but his temperament. So
he pays attention to warning signals and he sees them when they’re coming. Okay, there are actually so many advantages
that I want to talk to you about but I’m gonna run outta time so I’m just gonna tell you
about one more for now and we can talk more in the Q and A as well. I wanna talk to you about creativity. So – [pause] two important studies by, one by the psychologist
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and another by Gregory Feist have found that the most spectacularly
creative people in a number of fields have tended to be introverts. And they’re not just
any introverts these are introverts who have extroverted sides to them as well. They’re
people who can go out and they can exchange ideas and they can advance ideas and so on.
But they’re also people who are comfortable with solitude. And that is the key component
because solitude turns out to be a real catalyst to creativity. Not the be all and end all
it’s not the, it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition, but it is necessary. And the reason
for this is, it turns out we’re such social creatures all of us [chuckles] introverts
included, we’re such social creatures that we can’t literally be around a group of people
without being, without instinctively mimicking the opinions of the people in the group. So even something as seemingly primal and
personal and visceral as who you’re attracted to, you will actually, if you’re in a group
of people who have declared so and so to be attractive, you will start finding so and
so more attractive than you otherwise would have. And this is just a kind of fundamental
tenet of human nature. And so if you want to go and find out what you really think about
things you almost can’t do it without secluding yourself to some degree. But I wanna be really clear about what I’m
saying here and what I’m not saying. So when I say this I’m not trying to argue that [chuckles]
man is an island after all, to contradict John Donne. We’re human beings, we love and
we need each other. And I’m also not trying to say that we should
be abolishing group work and abolishing team work. I think it’s clear that we need that
part of the creative puzzle as well. And that this is probably increasingly true everyday
because as the problems that we face grow more complex we’re going to need more and
more and more than we’ve ever done before to really stand on each other’s shoulders. But what I am saying is that there are two
kind of contradictory drives in human nature and one of these drives is the drive that
makes us come together. It’s the drive that makes us love each other and need other and
trust each other. And then another of these drives is the drive
for solitude and for autonomy and for independence. Excuse me. [pause] And introverts have that latter drive particularly
strongly but this is a drive that we all share. And so if we’re going to, we need to figure
out ways of harnessing both of these drives as productively as we can. And so I’m just gonna call for three different
kind of takeaways for us to think about and I’m talking now at the kind of big picture
level and then at the Q and A you can ask me questions that are more specific about
your lives, your work lives or your personal lives or whatever. So the first takeaway I’d like to share with
you is just to give yourself more time for quiet, more time for solitude, more time to
just get away, to feel truly entitled to it instead of feeling like it’s something that
you need to feel guilty about. The second one is to think really differently
about the next generation of introverted children because the same children who have been sitting
on their parents’ laps when they’re two or three years old and then grow into teenagers
who develop solitary interests that they love to pursue whether it’s in spider taxonomy
or for 19th century art, or whatever it happens to be these children often are the great artists
and writers and thinkers of tomorrow or they’re just really fantastic human beings. And so
we need to stop treating them as if there’s something wrong with them and instead appreciate
and take delight in what is right about them. And then the final thing that I would say
to you is for all of you to really think hard about what is the key to your own power. and from fairy tales that there are many kinds
of different powers that are on offer in this world. And some of us are given lightsabers
like Luke Skywalker, and we get to swashbuckle our way through the galaxies. And some people
are given scholars’ education, I am sorry wizard’s educations. But then there are some
people where the power that is given to them is a key to a secret garden that is full of
inner riches. And the trick to living well, the trick to living well is to use the power
that has been granted to you instead of trying to make do with all the different powers that
are on offer. What is the power that has been given to you? And so that is what I wanna say to you in
closing. May you all use your powers well and brilliantly. Thank you very much. [applause] [pause]>>male #1: We have questions of course. [laughter]>>Susan Cain: Okay I know there are questions. [laughter] So — you can ask me anything, any topic.
It’s all good.>>Alana Weiss: And I’ll kick it off by —
>>Susan Cain: You’re gonna start>>Alana Weiss: by a reading a –
>>Susan Cain: Okay.>>Alana Weiss: question that came from Lynn
who’s a Googler based in Chicago.>>Susan Cain: Okay.>>Alana Weiss: And she wanted to know what
you thought of the cover of Time Magazine. She writes, “As soon as I saw the cover, I
immediately became alarmed by how inaccurate Time could have been with its choice. The
cover says, ‘The Power of Shyness.’ This is ironic since Susan Cain who’s book this Time
article is based on wrote an article titled, ‘Don’t Call Introverted Children Shy’ published
by Time online at the same time. I believe this cover was widely read and it
is a respectable magazine.” And she is concerned about this doing disservice to children by
reinforcing a misconception.>>Susan Cain: Yeah, so thank you that’s an
important question. So yeah, Time Magazine did have this cover story about a week or
two ago that was based on the research from my book and they called it, “The Power of
Shyness.” Shyness has nothing, well that’s not true,
shyness is very different from introversion. So what shyness is, is it’s the fear of social
judgment. It’s the fear of being socially humiliated, whereas introversion is just what
I was talking about before, the preference for lower stimulation environments. And, in practice, these two do overlap to
some degree so there are some people who are both shy and introverted. But psychologists
debate to what degree they overlap and so it muddies the waters to act as if they’re
synonymous. But it’s also a tricky thing because at the
same time that I say all this there’s sometimes a tendency nowadays more and more people are
talking about the value of introversion and in doing this I think there’s sometimes a
tendency to demonize shyness and I don’t wanna do that either. Because really the under,
shyness itself doesn’t have that much to recommend it. It’s a painful emotion. But the underlying
temperament, the careful and sensitive temperament that tends to produce people who are either
shy or introverted, that temperament has a lot of value to it. And these things all get
kind of thrown together into one soup.>>male #2: Hi, thank you –>>Susan Cain: Yes, hi.>>male #2: for your talk.>>Susan Cain: Sure.>>male #2: One of the things that I’ve been
struggling with or at least listening to all of this is that I always struggled that I
didn’t find myself as extroverted or introverted.>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #2: And I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs
five times, six times, numerous times –>>Susan Cain: [laughs] [laughter]>>male #2: and extroverts will tell me, “Oh
you’re definitely introverted” and then introverts will tell me, “Oh you’re definitely extroverted.”>>Susan Cain: Right, right.>>male #2: Even in your talk, like there’s
certain elements that you’ll tell about that like when I was a child like I know I was
that way –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #2: but then there’s other things that
are like, oh no, I’ve definitely introverted so –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #2: and then you have these key takeaways
where it’s like I gotta find my inner self –>>Susan Cain: Um-hum.>>male #2: or like whatever gift has been
given to me.>>Susan Cain: [chuckles] Right.>>male #2: Well it’s very unclear to like
what I’m supposed to be emphasizing and –>>Susan Cain: [laughs]>>male #2: no one’s ever been able to tell
me otherwise –>>Susan Cain: [laughs] Uh-huh.>>male #2: so I’m interested to hear, I mean
am I like a mutant case or –>>Susan Cain: [laughs]>>male #2: like — [laughter] or like is it, ’cause I know it’s a gradient
and I know –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #2: I know there’s a lot of ambiguity
around it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.>>Susan Cain: Yeah, absolutely. There’s actually
a word for people like you. You’re not a mutant you’re an ambivert. And that is the word for
people who fall kind of right of the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. And I
often think that people who are ambiverts have the best of both worlds because I think
each of these personality styles has real gifts and people like you can, I think, choose
more easily which style you want to adapt at any given moment. But I will say, too, even for people who really
feel like you’re on one side of the spectrum or the other we’re still gloriously mish-moshed
creatures, all of us. So we all have a little bit of the other side in us. It’s kind of
like if I were standing up here trying to give a talk on what maleness is and what femaleness
is. I could get it mostly right but I wouldn’t be able to get it right for any one human
being, and I wouldn’t be able to get it right even for the group in general because it’s
a little bit too complex. And yet it’s useful to talk about these categories ’cause it does
illuminate something. So – your question.>>male #2: Yeah, thank you. [pause]>>Susan Cain: Hi.>>male #3: Hello. So I’ve read a little bit
about just kind of different temperaments like the Please Understand Me books –>>Susan Cain: Um-hum.>>male #3: Keirsey I think it is I’m not sure
but I’m wondering how your definition of introversion and extroversion relates to these other aspects
of temperament like introspective and things like that. Like how do these, how do they
interact with each other?>>Susan Cain: Yeah, it’s all very complicated
[chuckles] what this stuff is exactly. But I would say the definition that I’m using,
like in this talk, is it’s pretty similar to what you would find in those books. And
another way of looking at it is to ask yourself the kind of famous question you’ve probably
most of you heard, “How do I feel after I’ve been out and about in company? Do I feel energized
and like I want more of it or do I feel oh I’m really depleted I’ve gotta go home and
just take a break?” And the people in the latter category tend to be more on the introverted
side and useful to know it ’cause then you can build in the breaks you need. Which is
something I have been doing on my book tour.>>male #3: Thanks. I guess –>>Susan Cain: Sure.>>male #3: I was just asking ’cause it seems
like a lot of the qualities of introverts that you described are sort of these introspective
qualities sort of observing or taking in the world around them.>>Susan Cain: Right, right. And I’m sorry
and your question about that is?>>male #3: [unintelligible]>>Susan Cain: Okay. [laughs] Yeah, yeah I would say that is very much part
of the way I’ve defining introversion. Yes. Hi.>>male #4: Hi. It’s somewhat related to the
last question. So you have a, your definition about seeking lower stimulation environments
–>>Susan Cain: Um-hum.>>male #4: which most of the other qualities
[ inaudible ] fall out of, but another difference I believe is extroverts talk all the time
–>>Susan Cain: Um-hum.>>male #4: and introverts wait ’til they have
something to say.>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #4: And that doesn’t really –>>Susan Cain: Absolutely.>>male #4: seem to follow from the previous
definition. How does that, how is that, does that fall out of it?>>Susan Cain: Well you mean what does that
have to do with stimulation.>>male #4: Yeah.>>Susan Cain: Yeah, well it really, actually
if you think about it, talking and interacting is kind of the highest form of stimulation
that there is. If you think about a, like a simple conversation with your best friend
there’s an enormous amount of stuff going on with it. You’re reading body language,
you’re reading facial expressions, you’re thinking about what you wanna say, you’re
reacting to what they said. And so this is something that extroverts tend to plunge into
with a little more ease.>>male #4: Right, but they will keep talking
with no response at all. [laughter]>>Susan Cain: [laughs] And –>>male #4: So it’s not working, they’re not
getting stimulation from that so it’s ->>Susan Cain: Oh, well I don’t if I would
say that. Well, first of all I don’t know that all extroverts do that.>>male #4: Right.>>Susan Cain: But to the extent that that’s
happening, the active talking itself is a form of –>>male #4: Alright.>>Susan Cain: of real activity and of stimulation.>>male #4: Okay.>>Susan Cain: Yeah. Hi.>>male #5: Hi Susan. Thank you for coming.
So –>>Susan Cain: You’re welcome.>>male #5: so I’m pretty junior in my career.
I feel like many times I heard like from career advices is that you should build your network
–>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #5: you should meet a lot of people;
you should know a lot of people –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #5: I feel like obviously extroverts
has a leg up on introverts on this. So what are your thoughts about that?>>Susan Cain: Yeah, I think that the key to
these kinds of exhortations is to find ways to do it that really are natural to you. And
that sounds ahh, that sounds sort of fluffy. But it actually really can be done. So for
example, if you’re going to a networking event, I always approach any networking event as
a series of one-on-one conversations. And not only that I consider it to be a success
if I have made one honest to God new, authentic relationship with one person who’s company
I sincerely enjoyed and look forward to staying in touch with. Because honestly how many people can you stay
in touch with in a real way after any given event? And if you use that test and you go
to enough events you will find pretty soon that you’ve got a Rolodex of people where
you really wanna help them and they really wanna help you. So that’s just one example
but I think there are ways to reframe almost all of the things that we need to do in the
workplace in ways that suit our natural strengths. And then I would say in addition to that sometimes
you really do have to kind of go out of, push yourself outside of your natural temperament.
And extroverts need to do this, too. An extrovert might need to sit down and work on a memo
for five hours when they might prefer to be chatting with colleagues in the hallway. So
I think it’s natural and good and healthy to be able to stretch ourselves to some extent,
but just to make sure that we’re not living in that place that’s not really who we are
most of the time. Sure. [pause] Hi.>>male #6: Unlike a lot of the people here,
I’m an extrovert married to an introvert –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #6: and I’m also interested, so I’m
A interested in learning how to better work as an extrovert, deal with introverts –>>Susan Cain: Right.>>male #6: and also –>>Susan Cain: [laughs]>>male #6: also I’d welcome any advice what
extroverts can learn from some of the advantages that introverts have that may not have come
as natural to us but that we may want to work on.>>Susan Cain: Right, right. Would you like me to speak first about –>>male #6: Either, either>>Susan Cain: the marital. Yeah. [laughs] So this is actually a pretty common question
because I don’t know, the studies say that it’s half of marriages that are introvert/extrovert
and that the other half people are married to those of a like type. But I can tell you
in my anecdotal experience it seems like most couplings that I’ve seen are yin and yang
couplings where it’s one introvert and one extrovert. And I think is because there really
is a natural and mutual attraction between the two types. And this has been found by
the way int he workplace, too, that teams that are composed of a mix of introverts and
extroverts that these teams actually, they’re more effective because people are happier
in that kind of a setting. But having said that there are certain conflicts
that arise and I can tell you about two or three of the main ones that come up. So one
of them is the question of how much to socialize. It might be that your partner wants to stay
home all the time and you wanna be going out all the time and so the key is to really have
a sense of understanding where each person’s coming from. And I always say pre-negotiate
these things so that you don’t have to negotiate it every single Friday and Saturday night.
Just agree in advance, “Okay we’re going out one night every weekend, we’re snuggling on
the sofa the other night. That’s it, we don’t have to talk about it anymore.” Another thing that comes up, that’s relevant
to both marriages and workplace situations, with the two types is they actually have really
different approaches to solving conflict. So in general, there’s some exceptions to
this, but in general introverts prefer a much more mild mannered approach to conflict and
might prefer to avoid it altogether. And extroverts tends to approach conflict in a more confrontive
style it’s called. So I don’t know if you’ve seen this in your situation, but that can
lead to real misunderstandings ’cause it can make the introverted person in the relationship
feel kind of aggressed against if their partner or their colleague brings up an issue too
directly. But the extrovert can feel lonely and abandoned if the introvert doesn’t want
to address an issue. Like the extrovert might feel like they don’t really care that much
or they’re not that engaged with me or else they would take the trouble to [chuckles]
just hammer this thing out. So with all this stuff really understanding
where it’s coming from can go a long way.>>male #6: And if you have any comments for
extroverts trying to learn from introverts –>>Susan Cain: Oh yes, yes, yes. Yeah so a big one that I would say is to learn
from introverts’ tendency to think carefully about things. I was talking before about the
tendency of extroverts to sometimes get so carried away with positive emotions and with
wanting to go after a goal that you might not take the time to slow down and see what’s
really happening. And, in fact, if you do slow down, if you put in place certain mechanisms
that will say stop before you act you will be able to see the warning signals that get
in your way. It’s the moving and the action that prevents you from actually seeing those
warning signals. And then another thing I would say extroverts
can learn from introverts is just to kind of sit down and be still [chuckles] and see
what you can get from solitude and from just thinking and being and not moving all the
time.>>male #6: Thank you.>>Susan Cain: You’re welcome. [pause] Hi.>>male #7: Hi.>>Susan Cain: Hi.>>male #7: I keep thinkin’ about your fruit
flies –>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>male #7: that stay in one spot, introverts
stay in one spot and then you have the extrovert fruit flies that kind of roam the world.>>Susan Cain: Yeah, yeah.>>male #7: And so extroverts are kind of more
roamers and introverts kind of stay in the same place or at least their more familiar
in the same area. What does that say about, what studies have been done about extroverts
and introverts in relationships as far as like faithfulness or, or whether they roam– [laughter]>>Susan Cain: [laughs] Oh, Aha. Actually,
extroverts have been found to be a little less faithful. It kind of goes into the overall
profile of risk taking we were talking about before. They’ve actually been found to get
into car accidents, to place larger financial bets, to be somewhat less faithful in relationships,
I’m sorry, but that doesn’t mean it’s always true. These are just –>>male #7: I’m only partially an extrovert,
by the way. [laughter]>>Susan Cain: Yeah. Some of these things have
small affect, but there are differences between the two groups.>>male #7: Okay, thanks.>>Susan Cain: Sure. [pause]>>female #1: I just wanted to say you had
a pretty compelling talk to get me up to a microphone. It only happens like once or twice
a year –>>Susan Cain: Oh, thank you. Thank you for
being here.>>female #1: Yeah, so I just really appreciate
your book and also I wanted to ask you about how introverts can get more visibility at
work because on my team there are people who are shameless self-promoters who are always
saying, “Look I launched this thing –>>Susan Cain: Yeah, yeah.>>female #1: and I’m just like, “Oh I could
never do that.” I kind of look at them with admiration and then a little bit of irritation
because it’s something I can’t quite do myself –>>Susan Cain: Right, right. Can you figure
out what is the, what’s the essence of what’s keeping you from doing it? Is it that you
don’t really approve of it or that you want to but you can’t?>>female #1: It just seems too, I don’t know
just self-promotion is really difficult for me. It’s being very verbal about what you’ve
done well. I guess it’s kind of just saying that you’ve done a better job than other people
maybe or I don’t know.>>Susan Cain: Right, right. I mean so that’s one, I don’t if you guys
all heard that but that’s one thing right there. If you view self-promotion as being
an announcement of superiority over your peers that could be pretty inhibiting. So that’s
one thing I would just suggest reframing. It’s not really that, it’s more just talking
about what you personally have done and don’t think about it in relative terms. But I would also say, with all these things,
is to try to find ways of doing it that are comfortable for you because if you try to
ape somebody else it’s never gonna happen. You might push yourself to do it once or twice
but you won’t keep doing it. So might it work for you to call, to ask your boss, for example,
for a meeting one on one where you just talk about your career and you kind of go over
the things that you think you’ve been doing well and where you might wanna be in the future?
And maybe come to that meeting with a list, a memo that you’ve prepared in advance that
lists the ways you’ve contributed. Like I wonder if something like that would be more
–>>female #1: Yeah –>>Susan Cain: comfortable for you.>>female #1: sounds very appealing –>>Susan Cain: Does it?>>female #1: [unintelligible]>>Susan Cain: Yeah.>>female #1: Thank you.>>Susan Cain: You’re welcome. Hello again.>>male #8: So do extroverts have more fun?>>Susan Cain: [laughs] [laughter] Oh, yeah, well. So this is something I talk
about this a lot on my blog. I have a blog it’s called, The Power of Introverts dot com
and I talk about this ’cause it comes up in the research a lot. The idea that extroverts
might be happier than introverts because it does seem that in general extroverts have
more of the, they’re very exuberant, very fizzy emotions that I was talking about that
kind of accompany the pursuit of reward. But being a pretty happy introvert myself,
I’m always motivated to think that must not be the full picture. So yeah, what I think
is that there are a lot of different ways of having fun and that many of the ways that
introverts tend to have fun, they’re not necessarily defined that way and they’re accompanied by
a different constellation of emotions from the one that we normally associate with fun. So it’s not like jump for joy, huge grin on
your face. It’s something else, it’s something quieter. And I’ve even started to explore
this state that I call the happiness of melancholy which is, why is it that things like minor
key music, I love minor key music it always makes me happy to listen to it, why, why does
it make me happy? Why does the evanescence of a cherry blossom make us so happy when
we know it’s gonna wither and disappear a week from the day that we’re viewing it? Why
does that make us happy that, it’s like the fact of it’s imminent disappearance is somehow
elevating. And I think, I’m trying to figure out what
it is, I think it has something to do with these kinds of states make us acutely aware
of the fragile beauty of life and of love and that that’s a form of a happiness in and
of itself that is not necessarily captured in the view of fun and of happiness that we
tend to think of in our culture. So that may be a more philosophical [chuckles]
answer than what you were hoping for, but those are my thoughts for today. Yes.>>female #2: Hi, I work on a team where I’m
the introvert who is supposed to lead –>>Susan Cain: [laughs] Uh-huh.>>female #2: and I have a super-extroverted
member. And very strong, very strong team. But how do I, if I take a long time to talk
as you can see I’m doing right now –>>Susan Cain: Uh-huh, uh-huh.>>female #2: and I have a colleague who can
fill that space very easily.>>Susan Cain: Right.>>female #2: Are there strategies for me to
honor that person’s voice yet still be part of the conversation?>>Susan Cain: But still be part of the conversation?
Yeah, I mean does, are you at all comfortable ever interrupting or does interrupting feel
to you like you’re breaking a sacred trust? ‘Cause I mean I think that is something a
lot of people feel.>>female #2: I think that I, yeah, I think
it’s challenging, yeah.>>Susan Cain: Yeah, yeah. So one thing would be to understand that to
interrupt is actually not a terrible violation especially if the other person is talkin’
a lot. But — [laughter] and it might be helpful for you to interrupt
using your hands like to say, “Oh that’s a great point, what about this?” And kind of
signal that, physically that you’re now taking the space. I’m trying to think of other ideas
for you. [pause] Another thing, do you have the kind of relationship
where you can actually talk about this, you and your colleague?>>female #2: That, that sounds like a good
idea.>>Susan Cain: More comfortable?>>female #2: [laughs]>>Susan Cain: Uh-huh, uh-huh.>>female #2: Okay.>>Susan Cain: Okay.>>female #2: Thanks.>>Susan Cain: You’re welcome. And I thank you so much. You were a really
wonderful audience and it was an honor to be here with you. Thank you. [applause]

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