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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Social Confidence and “Extrovert Skills”

“I used my extrovert skills.” “I had to learn some extrovert skills.” “Oh, well, I don’t have extrovert skills.” I hear these phrases all the time – and they drive me crazy.

When did the ability to be socially graceful or to display good manners become the sole province of one group of people, one temperament?


Good social behavior is within the reach of every human being, no matter how quiet or even shy you may be. As an introvert, you may need to protect yourself from too much stimulation, but you shouldn’t protect yourself from connecting with others.

The problem, many introverts assure me, is that it takes too much energy to relate to others. Well, anything you don’t know how to do well takes more effort and involves more stress. Swimming, running, public speaking, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey … the list is endless.

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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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3 Time Expansion Tips for Introverts

 

Introverts often feel harried, trying to rush towards that time when they can kick back and relax, freed from all social – and other—obligation. This is especially true when the introvert works in a busy organization where much of what happens is not under the introvert’s control (unlike a writer, who can have the luxury of walking through the park while mentally designing the next chapter).

The same nervous system that makes us intuitive and sensitive, that can caution us appropriately to collect enough information before making a critical decision, can also make us susceptible to feelings of extreme time pressure.

 

How do successful introverts handle the “brain buzz” that results from feeling bombarded by too much stimulation all at once? Here are a few secrets:
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Are Introverts just too quiet?

 

I hear it often – in person, from clients, on the internet – “I’m told I’m too quiet, and need to speak out more.” I’ve had more than one client whose job review included that feedback. And the client says to me, “But I only speak when I really have something to say – and then it’s overlooked or discounted. So why bother?”

Why indeed do introverts so often feel their ideas and offerings are swept aside by other, louder people? Is the ability to influence other people really based on the ability to speak louder than other people?

I don’t think so. Some of the most effective people I have known were soft-spoken but relentless. They didn’t give up on presenting their ideas, wants, or needs to others until they saw the light of comprehension in the other person’s eyes.

The introvert brain is a busy brain, and when we do produce an idea publicly we have probably looked at it from all angles, teased out the many objections and answered them. Blurting out an idea about an idea before it’s fully formed is not our style. Our mistake lies in the fact that we then communicate it in a kind of telegraphic style to the world.

Here’s the problem, and I’ve seen it over and over. Heck, I’ve done it over and over. We somehow think our neat summing up of a complex issue is immediately apparent to other people, who have not been a witness to all the rich thought that went into the production of that idea.

We just give them a compact package, and then feel hurt when they don’t respond with the excitement (or at least the respect) we think it deserves. We got to that point of excitement and belief through a process that we haven’t shared, then we blame the listener for not appreciating it.

We need to learn to lead others to our good ideas, to teach them how to understand us.

An unconfident introvert too often starts with, “This is just my opinion, but … ” or, “This may or may not be a good idea, but ….” Overwhelmed with the belief that it’s hopeless to inform this person or group anyway, the unconfident introvert subsides easily, feeling overlooked and a little bitter.

The confident introvert starts with, “I’ve thought this through carefully, and I’d like you to follow my reasoning here.” Another good sentence to use, which reflects a high-level introvert skill, is, “I’ve listened to the various thoughts you all have, and I’d like to add what I have concluded.” When interrupted, the confident introvert may say, “I’d like to finish; then I’d be happy to discuss your objections.”

Since you are very likely to have thought in advance, find an anecdote or punch line that illustrates what you are trying to say. Help your listeners make pictures in their heads that match the pictures in your head. They can’t see those. After all, if you just describe the tip of an iceberg to someone, it isn’t reasonable to get mad if the person doesn’t see the whole iceberg. Would you show someone a snapshot and expect them to understand the plot of an entire film?

Which one are you – the unconfident or confident introvert? You see, it’s not about introversion and/or extroversion, nor is it about becoming either a chatterbox or a loudmouth. It’s about having the confidence to communicate well when you do have something to say.

And when you are able to do that, you have earned the right to sit back and be quiet in a group. Even your quiet presence can be influencing to people, who recognize that you can be a powerhouse of thought and that your quiet listening skills really do pay off.

If  you are an introvert with a passion to share with the world and you need help communicating your dreams in speech or writing, I’m available to help you craft taglines, elevator speeches, sound bites and more.  I can help you overcome obstacles to delivering these communications, too.  Contact me at Lynette@CreativeLifeChanges.com

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off…

 

Making a mistake or doing something klutzy can make anyone uncomfortable. Some people are more uncomfortable than others, going home, pulling the covers over their heads, and trying to sleep, haunted over and over by pictures of the embarrassing incident. Others apologize lightly and gracefully, and then seem to roll on without any noticeable psychological damage.What makes the difference? Actually, several things do. Those who handle mistakes easily are:

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A New Year, a New Life

January is the time of fresh starts, fresh ideas, and an urge to create a new, better life.Often, we start out with high hopes, only to sink by February 1 as if the balloon carrying our hopes had been punctured.We need a plan, a roadmap if you will, that we can follow, that will provide us with a vision, a plan, and benchmarks that help us say to ourselves, “Yes, I am moving towards what I desire.”

Here is my roadmap to creating a new, exciting life:

Calmness: Well-being is essential to calmness, the well-being that comes of being prepared to meet life. After all, if you were going to the Olympics, would you arrive sleep-deprived, stuffed with fattening, non-energy generating food, and expect to win a gold medal? Seriously?

And you will need calmness to proceed to the next step:

Clarity: A calm mind is essential to achieving clarity, and the ability to slow down, separate distraction from relaxation, and be alone with your thoughts is central to achieving clarity.

Meditation for an hour or so at a time is not necessary; clarity and calmness of mind can be achieved by becoming aware of the key points during your day when it is important to sit back, breathe, and think.

When switching tasks or moving from one environment to another (even from one room to another), train yourself to pause, let go of what you have just been doing or thinking, and reflect on what you will need for the next task or in the next environment.

Confidence: Not just a state of mind, confidence is a feeling that is associated with having a skill that meets the demands of the situation, and with knowing you have that skill. Peak performers in every area of life experience real stress before they perform. They rely on the automatic performance of well-practiced skills to see them through.

Whether your scary event is public speaking, ski jumping, forging terrific relationships, or selling your pet project, there is a plan that an expert has developed that can get you there.

Look for an expert who is willing to share step-by-step experience, not just hearty assurances that you are worthy or powerful. They’re out there, those experts.

Courage: Even with calmness, clarity, and confident skills, it can still feel a little frightening to push back at barriers. Believe it or not, courage too is a skill mastered by experts in risk-taking.

Truly brave people know that they will be anxious, and that they will suffer setbacks. A setback suggests that there is another path to get to where you want to go; failure suggests finality.The brave set out anyway, using the occasion of a setback to sit back, reflect, and find another way.Creation: Life is not just about rushing towards one goal; it is about reaching a goal only to have another one appear. This second goal will require you go through the same steps, in the same sequence: cultivate calmness, achieve clarity, master confident skills, and be brave enough to take the small risks to get you there.

Whatever your personal goal for 2014 – increased exercise, decreased weight, better organization of clutter, more recognition of your abilities – having a roadmap will keep you on track to get there.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

The Dark of the Year and the Dancing Saints

As the days grow shorter and darker, I find myself mentally withdrawing into a kind of warm, personal cave – a cozy one filled with minute lights and small comforts, in which I experience a minimum of demands on me.Over the years, I have come to realize that the Dark of the Year is not a great time to find solutions to big problems, or to make great creative leaps, much less make magic.  It is more like the time experienced by daffodil and tulip bulbs, snug under the ground, quiet, gathering their strength for the big surge that will come as the Earth warms.

No use looking for experiences that will trigger answers to questions – somehow the questions you are asking and answers you are receiving never match. It is instead a time for gathering in experiences that are nourishing and that will fuel that great Springtime leap.

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Choose Your Foods and Choose Your Moods

Personal note

Thanksgiving has just come upon us (and follows us around in the form of leftovers) with all its claims on our energy – shopping, food preparation, traveling, dealing with people we may not see very often (some of them difficult), and … oh, yes, overeating.

I started early this year by taking a brain-impaired friend to a restaurant for a full turkey dinner on Monday, while contemplating the upcoming full turkey dinner on Thursday. Luckily, we ate at noon, and while I went home feeling overstuffed and vaguely as if I had been force-fed, I rounded out the day with a large plate of sautéed kale followed by a cup of sliced peaches for Monday’s supper. At the end of the day, I had actually eaten a fairly well-balanced diet despite my midday excesses. More importantly, I had restored some balance to the way I felt, psychologically as well as physically.
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How to Avoid Holiday Stress Insanity

Personal note

I believe in indulging in the different pleasures that the changing seasons bring, but sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. Christmas trees and music have appeared in stores, even before I have put out my favorite autumn decorations: a figure of a red fox, surrounded by a display of colorful leaves.

Breathing deeply, I tell myself to slow down, enjoy what is here, and not let myself be  oppressed by the sense of being rushed.

This week’s article is about how to do just that.
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