Part 7: Quiet – Q&A – a GHC2016 Lecture by Susan Cain

Continued from Part 6: Quiet – Next Steps

A lively Q&A session followed Cain’s lecture; her answers were consistently thoughtful and well crafted, demonstrating the solidity of the research behind her book.

How can we improve or tailor the interview process for introverts?

Let them know in advance what questions you’ll be asking so that they have sufficient time to process and prepare.

Can introvert/extrovert tendencies change over time?

Most of us tend to get more introverted with time.  The “babies and sugar water” experiment shows that we do have an underlying temperament and a set of behavioral preferences at birth.  The underlying kernel of introversion stays in the person but over time can become barely recognizable.

As an introvert, what kind of work environment should I seek out?

The key is becoming self-aware – understanding what energizes you and evaluating whether you’re happy in your environment.  This is 75% of the game.  With this self-awareness, you can optimize any environment to better suit your needs.

What do Quiet Ambassadors do?  How can I get involved?

They train in our methodology and provide personal coaching in the workplace.  This is essential since the vast majority of people think introverts can be leaders. provides details on how to get involved.

How can I honor my introverted nature without being rude to others?

When someone asks to meet, suggest a 10-minute coffee instead of a 2-hour lunch.  Having a language or framework, such as the one provided in Cain’s book, helps bring these differences between extroverts and introverts to the forefront, where we can talk and joke about them, instead of languishing behind silence and presumed slights.  For example, an introvert enters Cain’s workplace in a deep state of flow* and doesn’t greet anybody.  No one gets upset.  It is easy to get past this when you have the language to converse.  It becomes “no big deal”.

Do you have any tips on dealing with the discomfort that arises when expanding one’s comfort zone?

Involve someone else.  Discomfort is easier to bear when you know you’re doing it for other people.

The questions would have continued but the moderator informed the audience that we needed to wrap up.  Cain’s lecture was an enlightening and invigorating start to GHC2016!

* Flow:  the Psychology of Optimal Experience” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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