A Giant Step Backward for Introverts

Nancy Ancowitz, business communication coach and author of Self-Promotion for Introverts®, co-wrote this story with Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Introvert Power

 We recently celebrated the forty-first anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, when a soft spoken astronaut named Neil Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind. Isn’t it about time for other reflective, idea-oriented people to get their due? We think so. Instead, simmering under the surface of our cultural consciousness is a belief that introverts are impaired.

Touchstones for Introvert Bosses

Did you know that the head of the Campbell Soup Company is an introvert? Douglas Conant, president and CEO of the company, just wrote a story for his Harvard Business Review blog to help introvert bosses work better in an organization and manage perceptions about themselves. In the story, titled “Are You an Introverted Boss?” Conant shares his personal observations about navigating a leadership role as an introvert. They include finding time to think, remembering that introverts aren’t necessarily as aloof as they appear, and the benefit of touchstones that create a feeling of familiarity and comfort. …

Hot New Jargon Buster

Many introverts are word lovers. And word lovers hate seeing language butchered. Of course, none of us butcher it ourselves. Right? It’s always someone in the next cubicle. In case you have any doubts the next time you draft an award worthy memo, enter a word you suspect could be jargon into a fun and useful new tool, UNSUCKIT—and presto, out comes the term in plain English. I put UNSUCKIT through the paces for a few of my pet peeves:

Sound Like a Boss, Not a Bossypants

I recently had several phone conversations with high-powered leaders—all of whom sounded like high-powered leaders. It wasn’t just what they said (not a word wasted), but also how they said it. Not a frog in their collective throats. Rather than hemming and hawing, umming and erring, each of these leaders, from diverse industries and disciplines, spoke in a strong, confident voice. …

Introverts: Manage Your Perfectionism and Reduce your Agita!

Striving for perfection – rather than just plain excellence – can make you and everyone around you nuts. How can you advance in your career if you regularly spend hours on tasks – like writing a thank you note after an informational interview – that others seem to crank out in an instant?

“Whereas extraverts tend to broaden the sphere of their work, to present their products early (and often) to the world, to make themselves known to a wide circle, and to multiply relationships and activities, the introvert takes the opposite approach,” according to Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Myers. She continues in her book: “Going more deeply into their work, introverts are reluctant to call it finished and publish it.”

“Introvert = Loser”: A Sad Ad on My Book’s Amazon Page

An advertisement on the Amazon page for my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®, says: “Introvert = Loser.” It continues: “Being Yourself is Not the Solution. It’s the Problem. Learn to Change.”

Okay, I’ll change. I’ll try to be more open-minded about ads like that. I’ll try not to jump to conclusions about the inaccurate assumptions and bullying tone. [Introvert’s thinking pause.]

Okay, I tried and I still disagree. The ad plays to the pervasive stigmas around introversion and feeds off your fears. Hey, somebody must be buying the scare tactics. But it doesn’t have to be you.

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Ancowitz  

Fun with Terrifying Topics

I like making terrifying topics fun. In my upcoming interactive presentations, together we’ll tackle super scary topics like public speaking, self-promotion, and projecting confidence with demanding people, with special insights for introverts. You’ll leap over a few hurdles and learn something useful. We’ll have some laughs—but never at anyone’s expense. …

Workhorse or Show Horse?

Nobel Peace Prize winning theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer once said: “I wanted to be a doctor so that I might be able to work without having to talk.” Makes you wonder whether he was an introvert.

Schweitzer elaborated: “For years I had been giving of myself in words, and it was with joy that I had followed the calling of theological teacher and preacher. But this new form of activity,” he said, “would consist not in preaching the religion of love, but in practicing it. Medical knowledge would make it possible for me to carry out my intention in the best and most complete way, wherever the path of service might lead me.”

Work as Play for Labor Day

As we commemorate Labor Day in the United States, I would like to wish my readers from around the world a fulfilling and prosperous work life—one filled with challenges you enjoy and opportunities to make the world a better place in big ways or small, every day. If you’re looking for work, I wish you the clarity to articulate your selling points and the tenacity to go after opportunities you deserve—without ever abandoning your dreams.

Hit Your Treadmill’s Big Red Button

It was the best career move I ever made. Ten years ago I took time off from my job as a marketing vice president at a major Wall Street firm. The corporate culture of constantly being “on” during back-to-back meetings was particularly exhausting for me as an introvert. I wrote a story for the New York Times about how I transformed my career by taking what Rita Foley calls a “reboot break” in her new book, Reboot Your Life. After some serious snooze time, I chose a new career path – as a business communication coach – that enabled me to engage in activities, like deep conversations and problem solving with one client at a time, that were better suited for my personality. …