The Quiet Majority: Women, Introversion, and the Double Whammy Effect

Just as women had to learn who they really were, what their rights were, and how to go about getting them, introverts do, too. Astonishingly enough, just as women are a slight majority, introverts too constitute as much as 51% of the U.S. population. Yet we are perceived as a minority – quiet and often ineffectual.

Flashback to 1972, when I was one of the first instructors of the Psychology of Women class in the first Women’s Studies Department on the West Coast – at City College of San Francisco.

Women, actually a majority in the population at that time as well, were banding together to protest the minority status they still experienced at work, in college classes, and even at home. Frequently relegated to the quieter, more supportive, lower-level tasks, they waited their turn to speak, while the more outspoken people (typically men at that time) automatically took over the leadership of groups.
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Having Your Culture Fit Cake and Eating It Too: The Great Culture Fit Paradox

How do we resolve the clash between the need for “culture fit” and “diversity pays?”

Companies search hopefully for new hires that fit their culture; an employee who doesn’t fit the organizational culture is more difficult to retain and produces strain on teams, ultimately costing the company money in terms of lost productivity and cost to replace that employee – as much as 50% of a yearly salary. The employee that fits, on the other hand, is much easier for the team to absorb and to continue working together as they have done. Is that a good thing?

More and more research shows that diverse teams produce more effectively. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. But these returns were often attained at the risk of personal discomfort.
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Bold Fish, Timid Fish, Smart Fish, Dumb Fish: Introversion, Extroversion and Risk-taking


When Lee Dugatkin, Professor of Biology at the University of Louisville, placed guppies in a tank from which they could view predators in another tank, some of the fish swam up to the barricade to observe the predators; he named these “Bold” fish. Others – the “Timid” fish – swam the other direction.

When all the fish were placed directly in the tank with the predators, the Bold fish swam right up to the predators– and were eaten. Their survival rate at 36 hours was roughly half that of the Timid fish, and at 60 hours their survival rate was zero compared to 40% for the timid fish.
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The Holiday Time and Energy Bandits

Time and energy bandits are habits and thought processes that can suck you dry, leaving you exhausted and harried.

One of these bandits, which particularly rears its head at the holiday season, is perfectionism.

Now perfectionism is a wonderful trait – in its place. Some of the places where it is advisable to practice perfectionism include brain surgery (or any kind of surgery), pharmacy, air traffic control, operation of any kind of heavy equipment, including motor vehicles, or any other activity that seriously threatens the health and safety of living things.
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Introvert Nervousness – Friend or Foe?


“I’m now able to give a talk in public, but I’m still nervous. I guess I won’t ever get over it.” The speaker was a woman in one of my seminars, and the topic was introversion and public speaking. Her assumption was that because she was an introvert, nervousness was always there, ready to undermine her performance and her confidence, and she would never be free of that awful feeling. 

After she spoke, I reflected that, years ago, I returned to dance after taking a few years off to go to college. At my initial return performance, I was overwhelmed by fear that I would fail miserably and embarrassingly. As my partner and I got into the opening pose just before the curtain went up, I was dismayed to find that his hand, which I was holding, was shaking badly. Just before the curtain rose, he said to me quickly, “Remember, this is energy. Use it!”
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What If…?

A friend and I took a lovely paddleboat ride on the Mississippi River one day, past old crumbling brick walls backed by sparkling new skyscrapers, learning a lot of history that we had never heard.


The good time almost didn’t happen, due to a careless mistake on my part. That mistake did trigger some thoughts about small stresses in life, which in turn triggered this article.



When I ordered the tickets for the paddleboat cruise, I was told to bring the printed order form plus a form of picture identification.

We showed up at the dock, I reached into my purse – and remembered that I had put my major credit card and driver’s license into a small pouch the previous day in order to attend an art fair – and hadn’t replaced them in my purse.
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The Introvert’s Dilemma – Showing up or Skulking?

A friend and I had a conversation recently, in which she remarked that, when confronted with three side-by-side doors, she would always choose one of the side doors.

And I thought about that, because we introverts often slide along the edges of life, skulking. I suspect many of us make these kinds of choices – to be unobtrusive.

It isn’t always wrong; I maintain that the introvert tendency to enter a new group and listen quietly before jumping in and conversing is very intelligent behavior, and saves a lot of the errors that occur because of too quick assumptions about others.

Mingling with a group, listening, and paying attention to others can be very effective means of consolidating a group, and even leading a group.

But this habit of skulking can get out of hand, when we do it all the time, and unconsciously.

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Introvert Anger: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Ugly


Are you an introvert? Afraid of anger? Your own and other people’s?

You’re not alone. We introverts are famous for becoming clams when we’re hurt or affronted. After all, anger can involve raised voices, threatening language – all that over-stimulation against which we try to protect ourselves.

The Bad

When we feel threatened, we introverts tend to pull into our shells to wait out the storm. Cowering in there, we re-play all of the scenes that distressed us: the frustration of feeling blocked, the seemingly unkind comment, the raised voice that sounded, at least to us, like a shout, the slight sneer we think we detected on the other person’s face…oh, the unfairness of it all.
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How not to motivate introverts

Introverts: We’re 51% of the population, and still people don’t get who we are and how we function best.


We are in your workplace as employees, colleagues, managers, bosses. We can be a family member, child, lover, or friend. We are definitely well represented among your clients and customers. Not understanding us is your loss.


You may be crying out for creative, innovative thought without realizing that you have it within your circle – housed in quiet people who too often feel shut out of group processes.


Many of us are highly motivated: we often collect information in detail and use it to perform at a high level of skill. Those seemingly random bits of information that many of us store in our heads can be put together in some amazingly creative ways. 

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Can an introvert have an exciting life and survive?

Yes, many do. Many do not.

Performers are, surprisingly often, introverts, because performing provides a perfect platform for an introvert. A performance usually involves a structured situation with behavior that is well-rehearsed; furthermore, we can usually perform without those interruptions that force us to freeze or think too quickly, that we encounter in social situations. Many of us even learned that we could pour out our feelings and enthusiasm with a feeling of safety we never found daily life.
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