Susan Cain, introversion expert and bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, described ways to adjust social norms to seek out and encourage all voices to be heard. In a discussion moderated by Bridgewater's Kate Manahan, Head of HR Benefits, Cain talked about what it means to be an introvert in a world that prizes extroverts and sometimes diminishes introverts. Some examples of workplace social norms that feed into this dynamic include trends towards larger group meetings, open floor plan designs, and group project work that is intended to increase collaboration. Her talk not only focused on the experience of introverts in these environments but also on practical tips to get the most out of these individuals in the workplace.
Through her research, Cain showed that we could identify ways to embrace different social behaviors by defining diversity in the workplace more broadly. By offering multiple avenues for communication and collaboration, creating dedicated spaces for introspection and solitude, and balancing project work with individual work, organizations can better support more introverted people.
Additionally, Cain asked attendees to reflect on their interests and aspects of their identity that others may not see, and encouraged them to find ways, on occasion, to share those things with someone else. These efforts to create opportunities for individuals, particularly introverts, to engage and show up authentically can unlock our collective capabilities, increasing the outcomes derived from creativity and leadership.
Photo credit: Albrica Tierra and Matt Thomas