This is already happening. With the advent of ‘gotomeeting’, screen sharing, conference calls, telecommuting etc - technology is providing a way for people to exclude the social anxiety from their work and get down to the nuts and bolts of what they do best. I for one have never felt more productive since incorporating social media into my marketing plan because it’s such a non-confrontational way of doing business. Not sure if this is exactly what you meant by this article topic - but that’s how I took it
Introverts will of course say “yes”, but it’s clearly difficult for companies to accomodate the few. At least, that’s my experience. I have tackled the head of our business with his managing multiple personalities. He’s a smart bloke and was immediately interested on an intellectual level by this alien concept of introvertism, and to his immense credit he bought and read your book, Susan, once I’d recommended it to him.
However, he then called me out in a company-wide meeting to thank me for recommending it, which rather confirmed he may not have grasped the issues I and many others have. At least the irony wasn’t lost on everyone else!
I do have sympathy for him though. We work for one of the world’s largest entertainment providers. Most of the offices are identical, as they are across most of the western world. Private offices (and indeed the very concept of “private”) were effectively outlawed in the 80s, and only those who are at the top of the company (or whose work is confidential) are allowed them - and even they must bear the indignity of a glass wall, allowing everyone to peer in and survey their moves. Or their Outlook.
How do you change that? Not quickly. And if my experience of talking to our head of the business is anything to go by, this may not even be a battle worth fighting. But I do feel that it’s important to flag these issues with someone at the most senior level; at least he listened, and was interested in it on an intellectual level. That, if anything, is a tiny change. If we gain lots of those, we’ll start winning the war.
Yes, for sure office culture should change to accommodate introverts- but it’s our (introverts) job to initiate that change. Company culture change isn’t easy and takes an average of 7 years to work- if effective, so it isn’t something that can happen straight away. Since watching Susan’s presentations (online), I’ve found the confidence to proclaim my introversion and actually be proud of it (in the workplace). I feel this has worked in my favour and gives me a reason why I shouldn’t need to do things in the same way as others do (e.g. I don’t have to go to dinner with members of our audience, after a full day, heavy going event- it’s now acceptable for me to slip off to my room and dine alone)- it’s also raising awareness that there are introverts amongst us and we have different needs. When my boss first asked me why I didn’t contribute much to a brainstorm meeting (I hadn’t prepared for it), he was surprised to hear that I’m an introvert (I’m very introverted, but I can hide it brilliantly) and that my ideas come in a different way. Following the meeting I had my private brainstorm and reeled off a long list of creative ideas- some of which were later used. This has now become an expectation- I have a private brainstorm after each brainstorm meeting and usually add as many ideas to the list as the whole group together. This issue I have is that I believe the extroverts should also be doing a private brainstorm- but it isn’t expected of them, just of me. The best ideas often come in quiet time in both introverts and extroverts- this is when creativity sparks. I’m trying to get my colleagues and boss to understand this, but it just isn’t happening. I’ve also emailed them specific video links (to Susan’s presentation/s) and pinpointed how it would help specific staff in their roles (e.g extrovert events coordinator, doesn’t consider quiet areas at noisy events)- I’m pretty sure nobody watched it! We’re in for a hard time in making this change happen- the only people that want to hear it are the introverts! But, at least the introverts are starting to come forward…thank you Susan!
I guess I will never be able to figure out if I am an introvert or extrovert. I have been the quietest in my life, and then I became the loudest in my early 20s. Now in my 30s, I live a quiet side that I only I know and a loud side that the world sees.
With the office accommodating introverts, I hang in the same situation. I found there were situations where me being left alone is what worked for me but sometimes I need exactly opposite of that to survive through what goes inside me.
In our office (HQ 101, Worldwide) we changed things again, and again and again till under the given resources we could find some kind of balance to create personal space for everyone and give every personality their own room. I cannot claim we do it perfectly, but i know we are headed in the right direction.
My only fear that keeps eating me is how does a person like me who hangs in between the scale and often sees himself struggling with both sides yet living both sides on regular basis - find a way to survive.
Sometimes, my thoughts drive me so extreme that I feel like I am going to blast, at other times I am calm and happy that I have the ability to think so much inside of me without the world knowing my inner hurricane.
Then there are times, I can’t think, I just act, do, show, shout, create, and almost become an attention seeking maniac. It comes from within, from the inner silence, that screams - enough - the world has to know what you are going through, what you want and how.
For me, sometimes an introvert-friendly office is the blessing and at others, it is the biggest curse of the day.
This happens in my personal daily life too.
I guess I will never find an answer and direction …
Hanging in between
Yes, corporate culture needs to change and will change.
Just like it changed over time to accept “non-whites” or “women” so it must accept “other temperaments”. It must and will because this is “opportunity lost” it is a waste of talent and skills. Also, the world is bursting at the seams and “to solve today’s problems we need a different mind set to the one we had when we created them”.
The barriers are in the “established consensus of the extroverts” who believe the world as they know it is better, without the “nay sayers” as many introverts are often labeled. This “damn the torpedoes” corporate and social culture of ours has given us great successes but it has also dumped us into very hideous situations (various and sundry financial crashes, Iraq, Vietnam…) because, and of this I am very sure, nobody wanted to listen to the “what ifs” some quiet thinker in the room may have raised.