Leading@Google: Susan Cain

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 08.02.2012

>>Alana Weiss: Hello and welcome. My name is Alana Weiss and today it is my pleasure
to welcome Susan Cain to the Leading@Google 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.
>>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.
And yeah, that's right I'm just kidding.
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.
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 --
without insulting the speaker?
Yeah, yeah.
And how many of you would describe yourself as introverts?
Wow, oh my gosh could it be a hundred percent? No.
Any extroverts in the room?
Okay maybe. I would say we have about five extroverts. So that's good because you can
tell us your perspective.
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.
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
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
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?
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 --
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.
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
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 --
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 –
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.
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.
>>male #1: We have questions of course.
>>Susan Cain: Okay I know there are questions.
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]
>>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 --
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.
>>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.
>>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.
>>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.
>>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.
>>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
>>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.
>>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--
>>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.
>>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.
>>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]
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.
>>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 --
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.
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.