Do you ever wonder how introverts can navigate a world that seems to prioritize extroversion? In this episode of The Quiet And Strong Podcast, host David Hall sits down with guest Joanna Rawbone, founder of “Flourishing Introverts,” to explore strategies on how introverts can thrive in various aspects of life.
Join the conversation as Joanna shares her insights from over 30 years of experience working with organizations, addressing the bias towards extroversion and advocating for introverts.
Discover practical techniques such as pre-meeting meetings and the placeholder technique that can empower introverts to make their voices heard in meetings. Gain a new perspective on the importance of communicating your thought process and educating others about introverted ways of thinking.
You’ll learn how to cultivate self-awareness and adopt strategies that allow you to flourish as an introvert, including eliminating “comparisonitis.” Discover the power of embracing your strengths, understanding your needs, and finding your authentic voice. Whether you identify as an introvert or want to understand introversion better, this episode will provide valuable insights and practical takeaways.
So tune in to “How to Flourish as an Introvert” on The Quiet And Strong Podcast, and start your journey towards a deeper understanding of introversion and the steps to thriving in a world that celebrates both extroverts and introverts alike.
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Joanna Rawbone founded Flourishing Introverts to shift the extroversion bias by enabling introverted individuals to recognize and play to their natural strengths. Through coaching & training, Joanna enables introverts to access their full potential without pretending to be something they are not.
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[00:02:24] The author discovered their introversion, struggled to fit in, experienced burnout, and decided to create a platform for introverts.
[00:07:07] The author’s strengths are listening, pragmatism, resourcefulness, and calmness. They value empathic and generative listening and believe in the power of owning and playing to one’s strengths. The author dislikes drama and conflict but is willing to engage in conversations to explore different opinions.
[00:12:52] Curiosity is key in developing self awareness, but many corporate clients lack this curiosity. Self awareness is a lifelong learning process, but seeking others’ perception is important. Curiosity and growth are essential for self awareness.
[00:15:52] In organizations, there is a bias towards extroversion in recruitment, meetings, and promotions. This bias also exists in education. Addressing it early can help introverted children grow up with confidence.
[00:20:40] Including personality as an important aspect of diversity, especially introversion, is crucial and should not be overlooked.
[00:25:29] Understanding introverts‘ strengths and needs, including precharging and preparing differently for public speaking.
[00:27:20] The speaker gets nervous, especially when talking about personal matters. They unexpectedly expressed their mission and emphasized the importance of readiness to behave as desired.
[00:31:49] Recognize assumptions in thinking, value differences and communication processes, create space for introverts, spontaneous approach lacks depth, reflect before conversation.
[00:35:52] Encourage pre-meeting meetings, use placeholder technique to stay engaged, educate others about introvert thinking process.
[00:41:23] The author discusses the meaning of “flourishing” and how it applies to their life, including pursuing passions, meeting goals, and embracing the ups and downs. They have learned to navigate the valleys and find growth and learning in difficult times.
[00:46:08] Diversity is crucial in organizations. Recognize individual strengths, embrace psychological safety. Encourage knowing and supporting peers’ strengths. True leadership fosters inclusion.
[00:48:50] Main message: Know yourself, embrace strengths, articulate them positively. Share personal story of overcoming introvert label and highlighting listening skills. Encourage introverts to express strengths in interviews.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
– Pre-meeting meetings for influencing agenda: The speaker encourages having pre-meeting meetings to influence the agenda, ensuring that introverts have a voice in shaping discussions and decisions.
– Placeholder technique for getting heard in meetings: The speaker suggests using the “placeholder technique” to get their voice heard in meetings. This technique involves externalizing the thinking process and expressing interest before making a contribution.
– Communicating the introvert’s thought process: The speaker uses the analogy of a cash machine noise to explain the importance of introverts communicating their thought process in conversations. This helps others understand their need to think things through and educates them about their unique communication style.
– Extroversion bias in organizations: The speaker, based on their 30 years of experience, observes that everyday practices in organizations are biased towards extroverts. This bias can be seen in recruitment, interviews, assessment centers, and spontaneous meetings.
– Addressing the extroversion bias: The speaker’s business aims to help organizations identify and address the extroversion bias. They believe that this bias should be part of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agenda.
– Extroversion bias in education: The bias towards extroversion is not limited to the workplace but also exists in education. The speaker’s niece implemented a quiet table in her classroom to support introverted children, highlighting the need to address the bias early on to help introverted children grow up with confidence.
– The concept of “Flourishing”: The speaker named their business “Flourishing” after being inspired by Dr. Lynn Soot’s definition of flourishing as the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings joy and happiness. They believe that flourishing involves doing meaningful work, pursuing passions, and acknowledging the peaks and valleys of life.
– Overcoming challenges and setbacks: The speaker emphasizes the importance of learning how to fall safely and stay curious when facing challenges or setbacks. They no longer panic or retreat but instead stay expansive and learn from the experience.
– Nervousness before speaking engagements: Despite their experience with big events and conferences, the speaker admits to getting nervous before speaking engagements. Their most nerve-wracking experience was a TED Talk in front of only 100 people, where they had no slides or notes. This talk was about something personal to them, which made it even more important and nerve-wracking.
– Owning introversion and valuing differences: The speaker started their journey into training and coaching before realizing they were an introvert. They spent two decades pretending to be more extroverted, leading to introvert burnout. They now own their introversion and advocate for valuing differences in communication processes between introverts and extroverts.
– The importance of self-awareness: The speaker believes that developing self-awareness begins with curiosity and a desire to know more about oneself. Seeking feedback is essential to uncover blind spots and using tools like the Johari window can help in this process. They emphasize that self-awareness is a lifelong journey.
– Playing to individual strengths: The speaker values strengths and believes that everyone can make a difference by owning and playing to their strengths. They excel in listening and empathic communication, and they encourage society to improve in this area. They also highlight their pragmatism, resourcefulness, and positive thinking as part of their own strengths.
Joanna Rawbone [00:00:00]:
Quick story. And again, many people who listen may recognize this, the number of times people have said to us, oh, you’re so quiet, aren’t you? You know, you wouldn’t think it now, listening to the two of us, but and in the past, I would have mumbled some kind of apology, oh, yeah, sorry. You know, these days I say something like, thank you for noticing. You know, one of my real strengths as an introvert is that I’m a great listener. And as I’m listening, it’s not only to what’s being said and what’s not, it’s what’s not being said. So I can assimilate ideas and make sure everyone’s included. And I can do that best when I’m quiet. So thank you for noticing.
David Hall [00:00:49]:
Hello and welcome to episode 130 of the Quiet and Strong Podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall, and the creator of quietandstrong.com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced normally. We will air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review. That would mean a lot to me. Tell a friend about the podcast. Help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Joanna Rawbone founded Flourishing Introverts to shift the extroversion bias by enabling introverted individuals to recognize and play to their natural strengths. Through coaching and training, Joanna enables introverts to access their full potential without pretending to be something they are not. I’m very excited to welcome my guest, Joe. Joe. Welcome to the Quiet and Strong Podcast.
Joanna Rawbone [00:01:46]:
Thanks. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you. Obviously, I’ve been following along for a while. We met a couple of years ago maybe, so our paths have crossed in and out for some time.
David Hall [00:01:58]:
Yeah, absolutely. I enjoy your work. I’ve listened to your Flourishing Introvert Talks podcast, and you do some great work around introversion. And we are on the same page on a lot of things. So I’m excited to get into the work that you’re doing. But before we do that, let’s just talk a little bit about your journey. How did you progress being an Introvert and then now coaching and training and consulting with other Introverts?
Joanna Rawbone [00:02:24]:
Well, interestingly, my journey into training and coaching and Facilitation started before I officially knew that I was an Introvert. So when I was 29, I got my first job as a trainer. I was working with British Telecom in those days, our major telecoms provider, and I got a job as a trainer and Facilitator when they implemented total quality Management, which was all a thing back in the late 80s. I’m old enough, obviously, to have to, you know, to to have been part of that. And it wasn’t until a few years after that, into my 30s, that I was on a Women in Leadership program. We did the standard Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which I know it gets kicked, but for most of my introvert guests, that’s the first time that they take a personality or psychometric of some sort and go, oh, so there are other people like me. I’m not weird then. And so for me it was a real revelation that one little paragraph and people might remember that if they’ve taken the MBTI instrument, is that it summed me up to a T. But what it didn’t do was help me own my introversion. What it highlighted beautifully was the difference between who I was and what I could then see as all my successful and entertaining fellow trainers and coaches and facilitators who had them rolling down the aisles, as it were. And so what that led to was then two decades of pretending to be more extroverted in order to fit in and get on, because I was trying to emulate the people that I looked up to, the people that I wanted to be like. And you probably know where that’s going to end up. Introvert burnout, which took me over three months to recover from. And it was then that I started to really own my introversion. And then wherever I was working around the world, because I’ve been running my own business since 94 as a trainer, coach, facilitator, wherever I worked around the world, I finally got mad enough, is the way I describe it, noticing the same thing now, I know we notice what we’re looking for, so yeah, I own that. But it was always the quiet ones who were overlooked and undervalued, and I just got so mad that I thought, right, I have to do something about this. I was then coming up into my late fifty s, I suppose, and I had that moment of, well, if not now, when? If not me, who? And I just thought, right, I’m going to do this. And that was how flourishing introverts was born.
David Hall [00:05:21]:
Wow, I relate to so much of your story. It was probably I got a degree in psychology in my twenty s, and the journey was started, but I still didn’t put a finger on, oh, I’m an introvert, there’s great strengths with this. And I had taken the Myers Briggs during that time, but it was when I took it again in a work environment and became certified in it, and then also did now called Clifton Strengths and did a lot of training on that. I realized, wow, not only am I an introvert, but there’s great strengths. And I mean, that’s the work that you and I are doing. It’s not enough just to become aware. And a lot of people think that’s the goal, like, all right, what’s my label? It’s getting beyond that and realizing, okay, what are my strengths and what are my needs? And again, this was in my thirty s, and you and I, we want to help people get to that awareness. But also, like you said, own it long before that, so they could really play to their strengths. And just what you said, seeing people that are quieter, not having their voice heard, not using their strengths, that’s what drives me. That’s what drives me in the work that I do. Because introverts have so many great ideas, so many things to share, and when they’re not able to do that because they don’t understand their strengths, that’s what drives the work that I do.
Joanna Rawbone [00:06:51]:
Yeah, perfect. As you say, we’re on a very similar page, very similar page there, so yeah, I’m sure we’ll carry on talking about that.
David Hall [00:06:59]:
Yeah, absolutely. So what did you figure out were your strengths as an introvert?
Joanna Rawbone [00:07:07]:
These are things that I’ve actually become much more finely attuned to over time, actually. And I’m also, for me, a strength is not just something I’m good at. So I go back to that original thing about a strength is something that I’m good at, that I can do, that I love doing, because a strength is something that you can do to a consistently high standard over a long period of time. And there are things that I’m really good at that, frankly, I don’t like particularly. So unless I’m in the right frame of mind, I’m probably not going to do them that well. Whereas there are also things that I love doing that I’m not particularly good at. So in those cases, neither of those really are a strength. But where we have the overlap, the things that I’m good at, that I love doing, they’re the things that I classify as a strength. So for me, it has to start with listening, I think. And if only more introverts would recognize the value in listening and how much actually in society, in business, in education, we need to listen better. And if we look at kind of Otto Sharma’s four levels of listening, I get frustrated when all people are doing is kind of downloading. Yeah. When they’re not really listening. And for me, I think one of my strengths is moving up there to that kind of empathic and generative listening, where I’m connecting with the individual and I can put myself in their shoes and imagine what it’s like from their perspective. But also I can connect with the ideas and take that to a whole different place. So I think probably my number one strength has to be listening. And then there are all sorts of things that come along behind that. So I’m very pragmatic. I’m an ex engineer. So when I was at BT, I was one of the few female engineers. I was what they laughingly called a poles and holes girl. So I would climb the poles and to check for the wires and go down the manholes. So that engineering background and the total quality management training I had, I suppose, really always gets me to think about what’s the solution here? What’s the real problem? Not the presenting issue, what’s the underlying issue? So very pragmatic, very resourceful. And I think the other thing is that I’m calm. I have an ability to calm people, to calm situations. I don’t like drama for drama’s sake, I don’t like conflict for conflict’s sake. I will stand up for myself, but I don’t see it as sport. I see it as when there is a difference of opinion and those opinions need to be aired and explored. I will get into those kind of conversations. But on the whole, I’m this calm, optimistic, positive thinker. Who knows that actually we can all make a difference if, as you talk about, we own and play to our strengths.
David Hall [00:10:20]:
Yeah, absolutely. And that deep thinking. And again, if I had to say one thing for introverts, is that we are deep thinkers. We go inward more often than not. And that deep thinking, whether it’s reflecting on something that you listen to or that’s the strength throughout, we all have different strengths. Is there another strength maybe that you don’t have, but you’ve seen in another introvert that you’ve worked with?
Joanna Rawbone [00:10:44]:
That’s a really good question, actually. And probably the one that I’d go to is thinking about Matthew Pollard and his ability to sell and network with people. Networking is not one of my strengths. I have to precharge massively to network. I have to have a real agenda as to why I’m going there. And I can’t wait for it to be over. Even though I’ve got all of the techniques, even though I’ve got my questions lined up in terms of how to get other people talking, I would love to be more comfortable in the networking environment. And the other thing that I admire is introverts, who can be spontaneous, more spontaneous. So back to that deep thinking. I really do have that think, say, think process and can rarely just kind of trip something off the top of my head and I would love to be able to do that.
David Hall [00:11:44]:
Yeah, Matthew’s. Great. He’s been on this show as well. And we can all get better at networking, or he talks a lot about networking and sales. We can get better. But yeah, he truly has some gifts that as better as I get, I’m not going to approach his level. So, yeah, we just need to appreciate those gifts and others. Yeah.
Joanna Rawbone [00:12:03]:
And for me, it’s not about then thinking I’m less than because I’m not like Matthew. I mean, let’s face it, he’s a fire hose of information, isn’t he? He came on my podcast and it was like, whoa. It was full on. So one of the things that I’ve stopped doing is the comparisonitis. I mean, it creeps in every now and again when my inner critic gets a bit gobby. But mostly the comparisonitis I’ve dropped because I’m not comparing apples with apples, I’m comparing apples with pears or even potatoes. Who knows? So comparing ourselves really doesn’t help. I don’t think yeah.
David Hall [00:12:43]:
So where does someone start to become self aware? How do you help someone through that process?
Joanna Rawbone [00:12:52]:
I think the first thing around for me developing self awareness is curiosity and wanting to know more about ourselves. I have lots of corporate clients who actually aren’t interested in developing self awareness. They’re interested in bringing in the business. They’re interested in doing some of those things, but then they’re not curious about who they are and how they show up and how they could be better. I class myself as a lifelong learner, and the day I stop learning is probably the day I turn my toes up. For me, self awareness starts with curiosity. I wonder how much of my potential I’m reaching. I wonder how I’m perceived by people now. I find that there’s a bit of a paradox for me there because I’m also a big fan of what Bar and Katie says about what other people think about me is none of my business. And if I go and ask them, I think that’s different than being obsessed by what people think about me. So I’m happy not to be obsessed by what people think about me. But in order to raise my self awareness, I really need to ask people to help me see what I can’t see, to help hold the mirror up for me to see that we could go back to one of the oldest, probably feedback tools in the box, the old jihari window thing. And think about it. Takes somebody else to help me see into my blind spot. And that starts for me with curiosity and wanting to find out more, wanting to grow and develop. So that’s probably the place I would start with developing self awareness.
David Hall [00:14:42]:
So what do you say to that person that you described that doesn’t necessarily want to develop a self awareness? Why is it so important to learn to play to your strengths?
Joanna Rawbone [00:14:54]:
Well, one of the things I have done more recently is really accepted the whole thing about you can’t coach somebody who doesn’t want to be coached. If somebody’s not up for learning or up for developing their self awareness, no amount of me holding the mirror up, going look is actually going to help them with that. So I’ve learned to actually really let go of that and know that the people who want to grow and develop will come to me for it. So these days, and again, maybe it’s because of my age now, but I’m more interested in pushing it open doors than I am hammering on them until somebody kind of reluctantly opens the door.
David Hall [00:15:38]:
Yeah, that’s for sure. We’re going to talk a lot about introvert, strengths and needs. You also talk a lot about the extroversion bias. What is that?
Joanna Rawbone [00:15:52]:
So I experienced this bearing in mind I’ve worked in an organization for the 19 years before I left and then been working with organizations for 30 years now ever since then. And one of the things that I notice is that in everyday practices and processes in organizations, things are set up in favor of the supposed extrovert ideal. Whoever decided that was the norm, goodness only knows. But from recruitment through to the whole interview stage, through to assessment centers, through to meetings being called spontaneously, let’s just get together with no clear agenda and let’s hammer this out. Well, give me some time to think about my opinion, to do my research, to do my homework, so that I know where I stand on things. And then the whole promotion, the career path with introverts often being classified as or considered to be unambitious because we’re not pushing ourselves forward, saying, Me, me, I’ll do that, I can do that. So there are so many places that the extroversion bias is lurking and often in plain sight if people choose to look. So one part of my business actually helps organizations see where that bias is, because for me, the extroversion bias is an integral part of the dei agenda, actually, because it is about we’re demonstrating bias and therefore not creating equity for all of the employees, for instance. So it’s everywhere, and sadly, before the workplace, we see it in education. I can imagine now, knowing what I was like as a child, that my parents probably in parents evenings when you have to go along and the teacher tells your parents how great you’ve been or not. That my teachers would probably have been really concerned because I was quiet during the breaks at playtime, as we used to call it. I wouldn’t be running around kind of doing all the mad things that other kids did. Now I know that what I was probably doing was desperately trying to recharge my battery. Ready for the next lesson? Because I am serious. I was studious, all of that stuff, so it mattered to me how I performed in school. But I can imagine my parents being told something like, we’re worried about your Joanna. She’s not very good at mixing, so we see it in the education system. When I did my TEDx Talk in 2019, my niece came along, who is a teacher of ten year olds. And listening to my talk, one of the things she went away and did was she put in place a quiet table, not as a punishment for kids, but for the kids who were being distracted by the person next to them. So when they wanted to work quietly, they could take themselves away to the quiet table. And what a genius idea. And it’s little things like that that will help shift the bias. Because if we wait until the workplace, we’re then having to undo a lot of not okayness by the kids as they’ve grown up. Whereas if we actually tackle it in early years education, those introverted children will grow up knowing they’re enough. And how beautiful will that be when they get on into the workplace then?
David Hall [00:19:36]:
Yeah, absolutely. When I was growing up when you were growing up, there was no talk of introversion extroversion. I’ve had a couple of teachers on my show, and they both had written books. One was an elementary teacher, one was a secondary teacher. And they had some great strategies, and it was encouraging. We need a lot more of that. But in both of their cases, it was, let’s have all voices heard in the classroom. I just remember one, she said she allowed the student to she did a lot of work with videos like The Assignment. They could do a video at home and bring it back. And she said, one of the quietest kids being allowed to go do an assignment on his own time and do it how he wanted it, was the most brilliant thing she’d ever seen. But in class, he was very quiet. But anyway, there’s a lot of good work going on and talk a little bit more about bringing that in into dei work. How do you do that? How do we show that personality type is something that fits in there?
Joanna Rawbone [00:20:40]:
I think it’s only by getting our voices into those dei conversations, actually, with organizations on conferences, places like that, so that people really start to see that personality is an important element or aspect of the dei agenda. And it’s not just the extroversion introversion thing, but if we accept that up to 50% of people identify as an introvert, and for me, that’s not labeling. For me, that’s useful categorization. And we talked a little bit about that before the show, actually, that it’s not that I then hide behind it or hide inside my introversion. It’s that, okay, I see who I am now. Now I know kind of what I need to do to be the best version of myself. So potentially, for me, the reason that it’s so important to be included in the di agenda is because it’s probably affecting so many employees that I don’t think we can afford to overlook it. But that’s a hard sell. I’m talking to organizations about it. It’s a hard sell because what I don’t want it to be is a tick box exercise. Oh, yeah, here’s another thing to add to the dei list. So it’s a hard sell, but I’m not prepared to give up on it.
David Hall [00:22:03]:
Yeah, good. Yeah, we talked about that. The label itself, it can be useful because it helps you get to know your strengths and needs. But it is at least 50% of the population, so we’re not all alike. Often I get surprised responses when I say that it’s 50% of the population, and it’s because people are expecting introverts to all be quiet, not confident, and that’s not the case. Sure, there are some that are quiet and not confident, but I know some very outspoken introverts. But they’re deep thinkers. So it’s not about getting to the label. It’s what do you need as an introvert or extrovert? Or your personality type? What’s your strengths? I know how you feel about this, but let’s tell everybody else.
Joanna Rawbone [00:22:55]:
I know where you’re going.
David Hall [00:22:57]:
Yes. What do you say? What is an Amber? I hear that a lot when people are talking about this. Labels.
Joanna Rawbone [00:23:05]:
Yeah. So I’ll get on my soapbox just for a moment or two to talk about ambiverts. There are ambiverts, but they are much, much rarer than we think. People have cottoned onto the label in terms of and let’s face it, if you still search introvert, there are still some fairly negative connotations and adjectives used to describe introverts. So I can understand why people don’t want to associate themselves as an introvert. But what really does get my goat is when people who do need that quiet space to recharge their batteries then actually because I can present on a stage because I can MC events of over 1000 people because I have done a TEDx Talk because my role in life is as a trainer, coach Facilitator. Because I love socializing with the right people for a certain amount of time, people go, well, you’re not an introvert. You must be an ambivert. No, true ambiverts are those who are equally charged by being quiet and alone or incompanionable silence, as my husband and I often are, and with any noisy, loud interaction with any stranger, as many extroverts are very happy to do. And it’s rare that you are equally charged in both of those situations. For most of us, I can use extrovert type behavior when I need to, provided I’ve recharged or precharged and provided I’ve scheduled time for recharging afterwards. But that does not make me an Ambivert. What that makes me is a fully functioning introvert who knows who’s reading my social emotional, mental battery charge so that I know when it’s time to go recharge, so that I don’t get that route from overwhelm to introvert hangover to burnout. I stop myself doing that. But I can behave as any fully functioning member of society. So ambiverts are few and far between, and let’s not use it as an excuse or use it because introverts aren’t thought of very kindly.
David Hall [00:25:29]:
Right. And my response to people is often, well, okay, fine, you could be that, but what are your strengths? What are your needs? It really is about understanding that. And you mentioned you gave a Ted Talk. You’re comfortable in public speaking, and I don’t like those things to be called extroverted activities because I’m the same. I’m loving doing this podcast, doing this talking with you. I can also get up and give a public speech in front of many people. But the difference for me is, like you said, I need to precharge. I love that word, precharge and recharge after and after we’re done talking, I’m going to take a little break. It’s already scheduled for me, even though I’m loving this conversation. But the other thing I’ve really learned is I can give a great speech, but I have to prepare in a different way than my extroverted friend might. I need to take the time, and it’s not scripted, but I need to think about, okay, what am I going to say? What do I want to do? And probably think about it initially and then let it roll around in my head and make some tweaks in my mind, like, what am I going to say? And that’s different than my because I’ve worked with a lot of extroverted colleagues. I’ve done speeches and presentations with a lot of extroverts, and that preparation piece is different, and I need to do what I need to do and not worry about their process. And so that’s different, but it doesn’t make me an extrovert. It just means that I understand my strengths and my needs as an introvert, and I can do whatever I need to do. I think this part is different for everybody. I hear some people say that they still get nervous. I don’t, because I realize, hey, you know what? I’ve got something great to share. I’ve done my preparation. I might make a mistake because I’m a human being, but I don’t get nervous anymore. And that’s been wonderful for me because I used to get very nervous.
Joanna Rawbone [00:27:20]:
Yeah. And I still do get nervous. I mean, the most nervous I have ever been, bearing in mind I have MC big events and have spoken at conferences, my Ted Talk, and there were only 100 people in the audience. The most nerve wracking thing I have ever done because no slides, no notes. More than that, though, talking about something that really mattered to me. When I’m doing the other stuff, I’m often talking about stuff that’s in the public domain. This was from my personal domain, and it really mattered. And I was backstage beforehand kind of shaking out the stress because I really was very nervous. And if you listen really carefully to my Ted Talk, there’s a moment not very far in when I hear my voice crack. And it’s where I said something that I didn’t know I was going to say. And it’s where I said something like, I’m prepared to be the voice of the unheard introvert, and I didn’t know I was going to say that. And as I said it, it kind of almost took my breath away because that’s what it meant to me. That’s how much this mission that I’m on really matters to me. And you’re right. We can all behave however we want. There’s a difference between behaviors and needs and behaviors. Anybody introvert, extrovert, whatever, can behave however they want to or need to in a situation. It’s just about how do we get ourselves ready for that and able to do that?
David Hall [00:29:01]:
Yeah, absolutely. So on this show, we definitely talk about the strengths of introverts that we have been. We talk about introvert needs and we bust some myths along with some strategies for success. So let’s bust a couple of myths. I already know one of yours. So what do you say to somebody that says introverts have nothing to say?
Joanna Rawbone [00:29:24]:
Well, listen to us for starters. So absolutely not true. The reason I think we get that myth is around is because often people aren’t good at listening, people aren’t good at noticing. People don’t have enough emotional intelligence to recognize that their charade of verbalizing that they’re doing isn’t giving anyone else space in the conversation. But we absolutely have a lot to say for ourselves, as you’re proving, as I’m proving, as Matthew Pollard proves, as all those other people who are working in the introvert space approving. But what we probably don’t do is the idle chitchat, gossipy, weather, kind of what you did at the weekend stuff. Because what we prefer are those deeper conversations that go with the deep thinking. We do. I think most of the time we want to be stretched, we want to be challenged in some way, not just do the kind of past timing stuff, but we certainly have a lot to say for ourselves. And part of the work I do, and I think you as well, is about helping people create the space so that they get into the conversation to prove to people that they have something worth saying.
David Hall [00:30:47]:
Yeah, and we’re always thinking, so of course we have a lot to say. But there can be some barriers if you don’t understand your introversion, if you don’t understand how you process information, how you might need to prepare for something. And I think one of the biggest barriers that we both talk about is the way we communicate. And let’s see, I’ve talked about this before, but I really like how you say it. So you say that the extrovert is say, think, say, and the introvert is think, say, think. And that’s been like one of the biggest AHA’s for me. When I was getting certified doing the Myers Briggs, the trainer said something like that and I’m like, oh wow, that’s different. And so somebody’s thinking out loud, the extroverts thinking out loud and they’re speaking and you’re thinking and they’re thinking. You’re being quiet while you’re just thinking. So talk more about that. Why should we understand that? How does that make a difference in having our voices heard?
Joanna Rawbone [00:31:49]:
I think it’s partly the assumptions that people make when we’re doing our thinking. And you’re right, they often think then that we don’t have an opinion, we don’t have anything to say. Or worse than that, they think that we’re not smart because we’re not chipping in with ideas all the time. But for me it’s very much about if we really want to create an equitable society, an equitable workplace that values differences, then it’s really important that we help people recognize those two different communication processes. Because you’re right, the. Extroverts tend to do that kind of say, think, say, which means they’re not necessarily attached to what they’ve said. They may not even remember it a few minutes later. I’ve worked with so many extroverts and if I replay something back to them because I’m a listener, they’ll say, I didn’t say that, did I? Well, yes, you did, actually. And if we’re not allowing the introverts with their think, say, think process to come into the conversation, we are missing gold because of the thinking. Because introverts, when they’re doing their listening, they’re also noticing. So one of the things I say is that I notice what’s not being said as well as what’s being said. So let’s create the space in the conversation for me to be able to say I noticed that. I was aware that about something that’s gone on in the meeting. Not just this kind of whoever shouts the loudest is the one who gets noticed. Because remember, with the extroverts doing their say, think, say, typically what’s happening is just the top of their head, not necessarily thought through. Now, that’s not a criticism, because there are times I wish I could be a bit more like that, because they have that spontaneity but that will rarely get to the root cause of an issue. That’s more likely just to create a sticking plaster that we can put over the presenting kind of issue rather than the root cause. So it really is important that what we do is value those differences and know that actually, why don’t we all take a few moments just to reflect on this and then have the conversation rather than just kind of let’s dig straight into it. I remember when I was training for Myers Briggs, we did that exercise with the matchsticks. Did you do that one where the.
David Hall [00:34:26]:
Intro I think I did, yeah.
Joanna Rawbone [00:34:28]:
Go ahead. And it’s such a perfect explanation of what happens because from memory we were all given something like five matchsticks and we were put into mixed groups of introverts extroverts given a topic to discuss and every time you had something to say you had to hand in one of your matchsticks. And of course what happened very quickly was the extroverts were out of matchsticks and couldn’t say anymore and the introverts were all sat there with their matchsticks because they’d been listening and thinking and could then take the conversation on forward. And I’ll never forget that exercise because for me that really epitomizes that think, say, think rather than say think, say. So it’s so important that we invite and allow people to have their thinking time and not judge it as a weakness, but actually see it as the strength it is.
David Hall [00:35:22]:
Yeah, one of the teachers I was talking about earlier, she gave her students chips sometimes and sometimes she would sneak a couple extra to the introverts. But I just thought that was such a great idea and sometimes we could use that in meetings. Like everybody has a certain number of chips.
Joanna Rawbone [00:35:37]:
David Hall [00:35:39]:
So in addition to understanding our communication styles, how ours might be different, are there other strategies that you have to help someone when they feel like their voice is not being heard?
Joanna Rawbone [00:35:52]:
Yeah, I think there are a whole range of things that we can do here. One of the things I often encourage the people I work with, because some of them are already managers and leaders, but less dominant, let’s say, than some of the other managers and leaders they work with. So I encourage them to have pre meeting meetings so that they either speak to the chair of the meeting, they really get the chance to influence the agenda, which is an important thing to do. But if we’re in the meeting and you’ve probably sat around meetings like I have, where you see people go, sorry, this isn’t very good on a podcast when you can’t see what I’m doing, but I’m kind of leaning forward and raising my finger like I want to say something and everyone just ignores it. And the technique that I encourage people to use is what I refer to as the placeholder technique. And this is where I get my voice in the room, even if I’m not quite sure what I want to say yet. So because of my think say, think process, if somebody asks me for a contribution and I’m not quite ready, or if I notice there’s a gap and I want to get in there, my placeholder will be something like that’s a really interesting point. As I’m reflecting on it now, I notice that there are several things coming up for me, so I’m almost externalizing my process. But what it’s doing is it’s keeping me in the conversation rather than what we sometimes do as introverts, which is lean back in our chair, kind of rest our hand our head into our hands or our chin into our hand and do thinking. But we’re not communicating. That what we’re doing to the rest of the people in the meeting is I’m thinking. The analogy I love here is the cash machine analogy. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this, but someone once told me, and I hope it’s true, because it’s brilliant, I hope it’s true is that they could engineer cash machines that are completely silent, but that freaks when they did the tests. Apparently that freaks people out because you give it your card and then has it eaten it? Is anything going to happen? So they engineer in those whirring noises so that you’re reassured that something is happening. And I think there are times where introverts need to need to almost engineer the cash machine noise into their conversation. It’s almost like, I need to let you know what’s happening for me. So as I’m sitting here thinking about this, one of the things I notice is blah, blah, blah, all before I get to what I’m actually saying. So rather than just make a statement, get into that conversation with the placeholder, externalize, if possible, your process, so that people know what’s happening. And if they’re a confident introvert, I think it’s really helpful for them to really name that in terms of, well, you know, me, or, you know, I’m not the person who speaks the most. And that’s because I need to think things through and that’s exactly what I’m doing. As you were asking that question, I was thinking about what is my response here? So what we’re doing is we’re educating people at the same time that what’s going on for the quiet ones is not us stuck, but actually us kind of getting into our own heads and thinking about what it is we want to contribute.
David Hall [00:39:22]:
Oh, I love that. I’m going to remember that cash machine because we really need to establish that we have some things to say. We’re going to contribute, and sometimes maybe we wait till the end of the meeting and we say something. But the conversation has already gone in a completely different direction. So we need to establish that we have things to say even if we don’t say them right up front. So I really like that and also just helping people get to know you that, you know what? I have some needs. I had a different guest that shared how she was in this situation where I don’t remember her position in the company. But the CEO would always turn to her and say, let’s hear what you have to say on this. Because he knew that she was processing everything, listening like we talked about earlier and really thinking, being reflective on what’s going on. And he really valued her opinion even though she wasn’t the loudest in the room.
Joanna Rawbone [00:40:18]:
Yeah, nice. I’ve had one of my clients who suggested that what they do now in their senior team meetings is if there is a bit of flexibility on when a decision has to be made, they’ll talk about it in the meeting and then say, I’m going to leave this item open until the end of the day. So if anybody, on reflection, has anything they want to add, come to me by the end of the day. And again, that’s a nice process because it gives us a chance to reflect on and still contribute in a way that’s meaningful. We do also need to develop the skills to get it into the room, but at least that’s a halfway, which is great.
David Hall [00:40:59]:
Yeah. And that’s such a great strategy to really be inclusive of everybody and everybody’s strength is giving some time to think. So, Joe, I’ve been enjoying your podcast. The flourishing introvert talks and share with everybody. What does it mean to be flourishing? We’ve kind of talked about it throughout the show, but what is your definition of a flourishing introvert?
Joanna Rawbone [00:41:23]:
It’s interesting the way the name of the business came up, really, because I knew when I was setting this up, I knew it had to be something, but I didn’t know what it was. And I woke up one morning and the word flourishing was just in my mind. And of course, being the researcher that I am, I went away and looked it up, what it meant. And of course it was all the right things about being able to grow and develop in a particularly suitable environment that matters, actually. But then I found, because I’m also into positive psychology, I found Dr. Lynn Soot’s definition of flourishing and it kind of took my breath away because it exactly epitomizes how I want introverts to experience life, actually. And she talks about it being the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life. Great. So we’re not pretending, we’re not pretending to be something we’re not that brings joy and happiness. Who doesn’t need that? I know. I do. Especially. I am essentially a happy person. I’m not a kind of down in the mouth person. And then it goes on through meeting goals, being connected with life’s, passions. So we have meaningful work to do. We have things that we’re pursuing and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life. And for me, that whole thing together is just the perfect description for me of what it means to flourish. So we’re doing meaningful work, we’re doing things that matter to us. We have goals, we’re pursuing passions, and we’re acknowledging that things don’t always go our way. So rather than scurrying back into my comfort zone when things get tough, what I need to do is go, oh, that’s interesting. I wonder what this valley is all about. And funny enough, this week’s episode for me was very much around that, around the peaks and valleys of life again. And one of the things that I said was that it’s almost like I’ve learned now how to fall safely. So going into the valleys felt like free falling for me. It’s like, oh no, here we go again. Kind of a bit despondent and that sort of thing. But what I realized is that if I learn how to fall safely and stop trying to grab and grasp onto things to stop me falling so that I can get back out again, if I just allow myself to free fall safely, I can then kind of be there in the valley and stay curious, be still, understand why I’m there. Kind of what triggered it, what I need to do. What’s the right plan for me to now get out of the valley, back up to the level ground so that I can move on up to the peaks? And that’s given me so much kind of security, actually, because I’m not panicky now about when I find myself, oh, on the dip, down the roller coaster, back down the peak band, down to the valley. It’s like, okay, yeah, I know this journey. I’m an experienced traveler now. I know this journey. And this one might look slightly different to the last one, but there’s no need to panic, and there’s no need to then retreat and contract. I can stay expansive in that place of often despondency and often kind of, we’re here again, really, but actually, I can stay expansive, so that what I’m doing is learning from it so that I can take that learning on with me. So sorry, that was a very long after your answer to your question about flourishing.
David Hall [00:45:23]:
Yeah, no, beautiful. I love it. That’s a great definition. And we are going to have peaks and valleys. And again, as you go through life, you figure out, oh, this is normal. It wouldn’t be life if it wasn’t. But we can understand, I’m going to learn something from this, but it’s not the end of the world. And just with flourishing, with flourishing, it is doing that meaningful work, but understanding that you’re bringing your own gifts, your own strengths, and we all have different gifts for whatever reason. I haven’t figured that one out yet. But that’s the beautiful part of it. You can flourish when you understand who.
Joanna Rawbone [00:46:01]:
You are, and then it’s like.
David Hall [00:46:07]:
Joanna Rawbone [00:46:08]:
An integral part of the tapestry of life. So, you know, yes, we are all different, and we need to be, and and part of the problems in organizations is when they recruit in their own like, and therefore we lose that necessary diversity. And so what we do need to do is really take the time to recognize what the strengths are of each individual. I love the Ted Talk by Professor Amy Edmondson, where she’s talking about teaming and in there, she was the one who first came up with the phrase psychological safety, and bless her for that, because that’s been enormous in terms of our understanding of what needs to happen. So the introverts can work on a level playing field, if you like, but she also talks there about from a film, a Harvard professor, and she quotes him as saying, look to your left, look to your right. Next term, one of you won’t be here. And she talks about how damaging and unnecessarily competitive that is. And what she says is, I really encourage you to look to your left, look to your right, and understand how quickly can you get to know the strengths of those people and what they need. And that for me, is a true leader. That for me, is someone who is making a difference and allowing people to show up fully.
David Hall [00:47:34]:
Yeah, I love that concept of psychological safety. That’s where all this is going. It is our strengths and feel good about it, feel safe. I’ve definitely been in situations where I haven’t felt that safety.
Joanna Rawbone [00:47:48]:
Me too. Yeah, me too, definitely. And I think that was one of the reasons why I pretended for nearly two decades, just over two decades, actually, to be something I wasn’t, because I didn’t feel safe. I mean, I’ve been called some horrendous names by professionals, I won’t swear on the show, but I was called Dull as, and it starts with an F. You can imagine what that is. I’ve been called boring, stuck up, arrogant, all of those things, because I keep myself to myself to preserve my mental batteries, and because I don’t do unnecessary drama. I don’t see the point of it. But that has led to me being called all sorts of things.
David Hall [00:48:34]:
Yeah, I don’t do drama either. Joe, this has been such a great conversation, we could probably go on for hours.
Joanna Rawbone [00:48:42]:
Is there anything else?
David Hall [00:48:43]:
Yeah, is there anything else that you want to say before we end that you haven’t said already?
Joanna Rawbone [00:48:50]:
Oh, probably, but I wouldn’t be able to get it in before we need to end, actually. David but I think my main message is get to know who you really are, own your strengths and play to them, but also learn how to articulate your strengths positively. So, quick story. And again, many people who listen may recognize this, the number of times people have said to us, oh, you’re so quiet, aren’t you? You wouldn’t think it now, listening to the two of us. And in the past, I would have mumbled some kind of apology. Oh, yeah, sorry. These days I say something like, thank you for noticing. One of my real strengths as an introvert is that I’m a great listener. And as I’m listening, it’s not only to what’s being said and it’s what’s not being said. So I can assimilate ideas and make sure everyone’s included. And I can do that best when I’m quiet. So thank you for noticing what a difference that is, rather than mumbling some apology. And because often introverts will find interviews stressful, I say, for every strength you identify, find a way to articulate it positively and it’ll make a world of difference.
David Hall [00:50:14]:
Yeah, that’s the key. Kids, adults, it’s hard to come back from that question, why are you so quiet? But, yeah, you described a great strategy. Describe what’s going on. I’m thinking it’s a good thing. Joe, this has been great. Tell us, of course, where people can find out, connect with you, find out more about the great work that you do.
Joanna Rawbone [00:50:37]:
The one stop shop for everything is flourishingintroverts.com. The website you’ll see, my podcast, my TV show, the occasional blogs, downloadable, freebie, downloadables, all sorts of things are there, just flourishingintroverts.com.
David Hall [00:50:55]:
Thank you, and I will add that to the show notes. Thanks again, Joe.
Joanna Rawbone [00:50:58]:
Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
David Hall [00:51:00]:
Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Quietandstrong.com website, which includes blog posts, links to social media and other items. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free typefinder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the four letter Myersbricks code. I’ll add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood. Get to know your introvert, his strengths and needs, and be strong.