Jayne Riew is a lovely friend of mine, and also a brilliant artist. She makes conceptual books and boxes — intimate spaces that explore intense emotional states difficult to express in words alone.
Here is a piece that she made for me — and for all the readers of QUIET! It’s called “Be Still.”
Here’s Jayne’s description of this work:
“BE STILL is dedicated to the idea of the rich interior life. It was designed for a client who has written extensively about introversion. The box opens to a stylus and a tablet made of shifting sand, inviting meditation through play. The box is for the user who prefers writing to speech, is comfortable with the constant evolution of ideas and savors the slowed-down time of contemplation.” ~ Source: JayneRiew.com
She also says that the piece is based on these concepts:
◆ The preference of writing to talking - hence the stylus, and the lid that opens in such a way that it invites only a single user.
◆ The idea that, to introverts, certainty can be suspect.
◆ If a philosophy set in stone is represented by concrete, then sand might represent ideas still in formation or the possibility of variable outcomes based on circumstances.
◆ The beauty of the quote, “A hundred people versus a hundred grains of sand.” (David Winter, in QUIET.)
◆ Ditto: “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” (T.S. Eliot)
◆ Natural materials evoke growth, helping you take your time and gain perspective (wood with the grain exposed, the beach).
◆ The slowed-down time of contemplation, the granular quality of meditation when conditions are right.
◆ Play opens the heart. Writing opens the mind.
◆ Finally, the dimensions of the box are based on those of a laptop because the client (SC — that would be me!) observed that she found herself, night after night, opening her laptop instead going to bed.
QUIET Readers: Would you be interested in owning a box like this? Jayne is the least commercially oriented person you will ever meet, but if enough people express interest, maybe we can persuade her to make more Meditation Boxes.
Have you ever noticed that some people avoid using question marks in their emails? They will say: “Can you call me to discuss.” Or: “When should we meet for dinner.”
I think they’re trying to signal power, but these linguistic bids for dominance never fill me with respect. They just get my back up.
Some people do just the opposite. Not only do they use question marks - they come right out and admit uncertainty: “I could be wrong, of course. What do you think?” They use exclamation points! “Great to see you today!” They even sign off with “xo’s” and smiley emoticons.
This latter group seems to fall into two categories. Some appear insecure or ineffectual. But others are true standouts - the kinds of people who inspire love and trust, who lead with an unbeatable mix of empathy and competence.
I first noticed these dynamics when I worked on Wall Street, where the peremptory style of e-mail seems especially prevalent. But was I imagining things?
Apparently not. It turns out that superstar organizational psychologist Adam Grant, youngest tenured professor at Wharton, and author of the New York Times bestseller “Give and Take“, has been researching this question for years, and has a groundbreaking new prescription for how to relate: the power of powerless communication. (Here is Adam’s fascinating TEDx talk on this very subject).
Grant says that people who pose questions instead of answers, admit their shortcomings, and use tentative instead of assertive speech are some of the world’s most powerful communicators. People who use “powerless” communication styles fall into two categories - some are doormats. But just as many are superstars.
It boils down to this insight: When people think you’re trying to influence them, they put their guard up. But when they feel you’re trying to help them, or to muse your way to the right answer, or to be honest about your own imperfections, they open up to you. They hear what you have to say.
In small group decision making, suggestions prefaced with qualifiers like “This might be a good way to go” have been found to be accepted more often than forthright statements like “Let’s do it this way.”
And among salespeople, powerless communicators bring in 68% more revenue than “takers” - in large part because they ask more and better questions, and listen to the answers. Instead of coming on strong, they find out about the hopes and fears of their prospective buyers. They’re motivated not only by making the sale, but by satisfying those needs. Buyers feel the difference.
If you would like to use the power of powerless communication, here are a few tips:
1. Be humble but humorous. When the famously unassuming Lincoln was called two-faced during a debate, Grant recalls, he said: “Two faced? If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”
2. Ask for help or advice. The other day, I read a Harvard Business Review article online, and was asked to complete a survey. Now I’m a working mom, so I try to make every minute of my screen time count. I ignore surveys. But HBR must have been talking to Adam Grant. “We value your feedback!” they said. “Would you help us make our website better?” There was something in the humility of the request that made it hard to say no.
3. Pair your openness with competence. A revealing experiment led by psychologist Elliot Aronson tracked audience reactions to participants in a game show. When the high-performing contestants spilled coffee on themselves, the audience liked them more. They were competent, yet also relatable: human and imperfect. But when the mediocre performers did the same thing, people liked them less. The takeaway - if you’re doing your job well, people want you to be human. It’s when you’re underperforming that powerless communication backfires.
4. When you communicate with someone, ask yourself three questions: What do you have to learn from them? How can you help them or otherwise express warmth? And can you find ways of letting your true personality show?
5. Frame your opinions as suggestions. “I wonder if it would work to do it this way.” Give people the space to disagree with you.
6. Be authentic. Whatever you feel inside has a way of expressing itself. If you feel kind and open, people will know it. They’ll also sense the reverse. You can’t just slap Grant’s approaches on to an otherwise arrogant self-presentation.
7. Introverts and women, rejoice! This research is great news for two groups in particular: women and introverts, both of whom tend naturally to use powerless communication styles and worry that this is a bad thing in a take-charge world. Based on the evidence, you can stop worrying.
Recently I received a letter from a reader named “Lily” who describes herself as extremely quiet and shy. Lily is part of a women’s group called the “Super Women Sisterhood” which is comprised of eight very boisterous, extroverted women. When Lily attends the meetings she feels invisible and overwhelmed, and she worries that the women feel she is being anti-social or snobby. She wants to feel comfortable with the “Super Women Sisterhood” because she feels it will become a supportive, nurturing environment once they understand her. She asked me to suggest some strategies or ice breakers to help her connect to the women and help them bond and learn more about each other. What a great question! I immediately knew my good friend Jennifer Kahnweiler, who wrote the incredible new book Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, would have the perfect advice for Lily. Jennifer’s answer was so terrific, I’m sharing her letter to Lily with you. After reading her advice, I invite you to share your favorite icebreakers and thoughts in the comments.
I imagine that as an introvert you carefully considered stepping into a group where you clearly are outnumbered. So kudos to you for signing up in the first place! Despite a mix of differing personality styles, I agree that you can gain a great deal from these gatherings and would like to offer a few ideas to help make that happen.
1) Reframe – Who wouldn’t be frustrated being talked over? Extroverts have a quick pace, and can wax enthusiastic about their experiences. Unfortunately they often don’t have a clue that too much energy can be unpleasant for the introverts in their midst. I doubt they are seeing you as “anti social or snobby” as you put it. They probably aren’t even stopping long enough to think about it! Try this: Instead of thinking about how you are being seen, focus on what you do well and draw on your natural, quiet introverted strengths. For example, your attentive listening will build trust with members of the group. Apply your “introvert instincts” to dig deep and ask pointed, penetrating questions. Use another quiet influencer strength, preparation, by reflecting on what you wish to learn from women in the group. Also use your penchant for taking quiet time to consider what ideas and resources you can suggest to help other group members.
2) Pair Up – I have been in a few groups similar to the “Super Woman Sisterhood” (admittedly with less clever names). A quieter member suggested we take ten minutes to pair up with another woman. This technique proved to be a winner. We got to know each other this way and this camaraderie spilled over into the larger group. I also think the extroverts can focus more and get to another level of intimacy and sharing.
3) Group Activities of Connection – Here are five other ideas for connection. Adapt them to your group’s needs.
Collage night – Bring old magazines, glue, scissors and construction paper. Each person individually creates a collage with pictures and words that represent where they are now and/or where they are headed. This is a great activity because it plays to the introvert’s preference for quiet and the extrovert’s desire to talk. After completing the collage, everyone shares (optional) what they have created and why.
Two facts and a lie – This can be done in pairs in the larger group. Tell two things about yourself that are true and one that isn’t. The group has to guess. This is a fun way to reveal more about yourself in a lighter way and you have control over how deeply you go on this one.
What is on your “Bucket List”? – I would suggest dividing the group of eight into two groups for this activity. Each woman describes one or two things on her list, what she wants to do before “kicking the bucket” and why this is important to her. A follow-up, (introvert friendly) activity is to ask members to solicit ideas for making that bucket list item a reality. Circulate each person’s wish at the top on a piece of paper and keep those papers circulating throughout the evening.
Offers and Needs – This takes a little homework. Each woman writes down two to three work or personal “offers” she has to share on an index card. It can include a new skill, resource or idea (ex: presentation software, a great handyman) you have recently acquired. She also prepares a list of two to three work or personal “needs” (ex: quick dinner recipes, dog friendly restaurants, etc.). During the group meeting, everyone stands up and has one-on-one conversations sharing their offers and needs. Seemingly random, it is a failsafe way to network without calling it “networking.”
Free Writing – This is an unfiltered writing exercise done for a set time period. Suggest a topic (ex: “A woman who influenced me as a young girl” or “The best vacation I ever had”) and ask everyone to write for up to five minutes. Set the timer and when it rings, anyone can volunteer to read their piece to the group. An important ground rule is that no one can criticize the writing, but may comment if the reader gives them the okay. It isn’t only the introverts who will appreciate the chance to go within. Everyone will get into a deeper space and connect in new ways.
I do hope these ideas help you, Lily. You are a thoughtful, quiet influencer who I am confident will make a real difference in this group. Enjoy the experience and let us know how it goes!
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. is an international speaker and executive coach whose clients include General Electric Co., AT&T Inc., the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NASA. Her new book, Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference (Berrett-Koehler, 2013) further establishes her as a “champion for introverts” and follows on from her 2009 hit, The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength (Berrett-Koehler, 2009), which has sold more than 30,000 copies and has been translated into multiple languages. For more information please visit www.jenniferkahnweiler.com and follow her on Twitter at @JennKahnweiler.
Today, a heartwarming love story from Matt and Julia Triplett — who met online via the Quiet Revolution! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
“One night in early 2012, Matt was reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain, about the joys and struggles of being an introvert in an extroverted world. And it sparked an idea. On a lark he logged into his OkCupid account and did a keyword search for “introvert”. Five profiles popped up, and one in particular stood out to him — a girl named Julia, who lived in Pacific Grove.
Matt was a bit intimidated by Julia’s profile and was unsure if he wanted to reach out… until he saw the photo of her in a panda suit. He was intrigued! The next photo (of her as a toddler on her dad’s lap) was so sweet, he knew he wanted to learn more. So he wrote her a thoughtful message and crossed his fingers.”
Via: How we met (and the unusual path we took) | Julia-and-Matt.com
How did Julia respond? Will Matt stop dressing like a nun?
These questions and more are answered @
How we met (and the unusual path we took) on Julia-and-Matt.com
I loved, loved, loved the movie “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” starring the gorgeously sensitive Emma Watson. And now HERE SHE IS in ROOKIE magazine, declaring that she’s an introvert and a reader of QUIET!
Made. My. Day.
Here’s the full quote from Emma:
“[QUIET] discusses how extroverts in our society are bigged up so much, and if you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you. That’s like the story of my life. Coming to realize that about myself was very empowering, because I had felt like Oh my god, there must be something wrong with me, because I don’t want to go out and do what all my friends want to do.” — Emma Watson | ROOKIE
Dear Emma, if by chance you ever happen upon this post — I would love to talk to you about this. Many performers are introverts, and your many quiet-ish fans would be so inspired to hear more about your true self. Thank you!
I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, Julien Smith, who
(a) wrote a famous and fantastic blogpost called The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck (a must-read if, like Julien, you suffer from “caring far too much about offending people, worrying if [you're] cool enough for them, or asking [yourself] if they are judging [you]),”
(b) just launched a new company, Breather, that will supply quiet, private and beautiful rooms to retreat to in noisy cities throughout the world. It’s a fascinating idea. Here’s Julien’s description from his new website:
Today is the day I launch the company I conceived of around a year ago. It’s a company called Breather. A company that I have been working on crazy hard for a very long time.
This is so big to me right now that I don’t even know how to begin, so let’s just do it this way, by telling you what I wanted to change.
◆ I was sick of walking around in cities everywhere, trying to find a place to go.
◆ I was no longer willing to have meetings in coffee shops, either.
◆ I was annoyed of having to take phone calls in the street, with sirens passing by me.
◆ I was sick of having to scavenge for electrical outlets when my phone was dying.
◆ More than anything, I wanted a place to rest.
◆ I’m an introvert– but a very specific kind of introvert.
◆ I’m an introvert who needs to talk a lot for work, who needs to meet a lot of people, and who needs to recuperate mid-way through the day.
◆ Starbucks wasn’t cutting it. Hotel lobbies weren’t cutting it.
◆ I’m also medicated for epilepsy, and I need my sleep. So when I was under-slept, there was nowhere for me to go.
◆ I would find myself wandering around in a city, practically ready to rent a hotel room so I could nap for a couple of hours and go to my end-of-day meetings or parties.
This is why I started working on private space, a long time ago.
I wanted space I could go to, anytime.
Not just space, but nice space. Well-designed rooms. Rooms that were quiet. Rooms I didn’t need to ask permission to get into. Rooms I could just go to whenever I wanted.
So that’s what we made. That’s what Breather is.
~ Julien Smith | What is Breather?
Want to join Breather? Click here to claim an invite.
(By the way, I don’t receive any affiliate commission or anything like that for posting this message. Julien is a friend, but mostly I’m posting this because I think it’s a very cool concept.)
What do you think about Breather? Is Julien on to something here?