Inclusion and Collaboration Breeds Better Business

We could all use a little more Introvert championing, advocacy, awareness – whatever you want to call it. First and fundamentally, if you’re practicing Psychological Safety and Emotional Intelligence because just having awareness doesn’t cut it anymore. EQ, short for Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence, is the fuel that generates an acute awareness of Introverts. And the EQ-fuel itself is having awareness of, control of, and the ability to share your emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. And it’s that fuel that enhances the Introverts around you to reveal themselves and their ideas. And if you get the Introverts in the room to share, you can get the rest of the lot to jump in and contribute to build on an ultimately optimal solution.  It’s like having a cave full of gold in arm’s reach that you didn’t know existed but was always there. Once you figure this out, you’ll be an Introvert Advocate for life.

I’m not talking about enabling Introverts to rely on you to help them reveal themselves, but it may feel like that at times. Sometimes it’s just a small push. Consider it championing in the spirit of safety (Psychological Safety) for the betterment of the team and organization.

Are You Even Aware?

Regardless if you are an Introvert, ambivert or extrovert, you may not even know you have an Introvert Awareness or Introvert Advocacy deficit in your team or organization. Maybe you’re already operating at a decent level and think you’re running just fine without all of this foofy stuff. Sure, call it, mumbo-jumbo (maybe), or hoity-toity (hardly), or woo woo (never that). But if you haven’t tried it, you’ll never know. And maybe you’re still able to get from point A to point B and get your stuff done and reach your quarterly goals. But chances are, your ways are like a car running on leaded gas, emitting black soot toxins into the air with balding tires on the verge of slipping off of the road. Sure, you’ll get there but not always in the most optimal way and you’re leaving behind a path of damage without even knowing it.

What is Your Team and Organization's Culture?

If you don’t have a culture of emphasizing EQ in your organization or team, it’s even more challenging to operate at a basic level, at best. But there is hope and you can be the change you want to see in your world (to almost quote Gandhi). 

In general, there is an underwhelming amount of EQ muscle memory that is yet to be fully realized in the business world. Let’s say you’re running a meeting and have some problems to solve that determines the next three months of work. You put it to the team to figure it out. In typical tribe behaviour, those whom you’d expect to speak first, typically do. Their opening ritual starts with boisterous vocal levels accompanied with hands and arms flailing in unison like backup Motown singers, helping to emphasize speculated impact and obvious importance. Nothing wrong with this – if it’s just a warm up act to more ideas and more people to open up and share. 

Their opening ritual starts with boisterous vocal levels accompanied with hands and arms flailing in unison like backup Motown singers, helping to emphasize speculated impact and obvious importance.
The first to talk in the group making a play...
(it's cool if everyone else can contribute)

Nothing wrong with this – if it’s just a warm up act to more ideas from people opening up and sharing thoughts. Everybody in the room listens… 

The initial suggestions and arguments cited all seem fairly reasonable. But that’s the only idea proposed – [BUZZ! Insert wrong answer buzz sound here] – not a good thing and Psychological Safety and EQ methods are not in play here. But you don’t realize this as you’ve just fallen into bad mimicked corporate behaviour: You scan the room, ask if anybody else has any adds or ideas. Crickets chirp, so you put it to vote and everyone “agrees” to move forward with the initial idea that impacts their time for the next ~2000+ hours of total work. To the untrained non-EQ person, it’s not obvious that opportunities were missed that are likely to be better, more objective, effective and sound – the things swirling around the untapped heads of the introverts in the room. TO NOTE: because of peer pressure and lack of safety, people who aren’t yet sure, need more processing and the Introverts all “agree” on the solution. You might think it’s their problem that they didn’t speak up and offer other options, but it’s your problem and will soon be the problem of the rest of the team as they get into the work. Why? Because not everybody was heard; the processors, the “not surers” and yes, the Introverts.

We Are All Surrounded by Greatness

Look it up and see that the top inventors and innovators, starters-of movements, musicians, scientists and wealthiest (not richest – wealthiest) individuals are introverts. And if you are one of those blindly moving forward in business not practicing Psychological Safety or have any EQ, you’re going to overlook the Warren Buffet’s, Mahatma Gandhi’s and Steve Wozniak’s on your own team. 

I’m not saying that nobody else but the Introverts come up with the best ideas. Many times it is the initial thought that is shared by the Introvert that starts an all-inclusive collaborative discussion by all that ultimately yields a better idea than the initially proposed one. Statistically, this is a fact and science has proven this. See Margaret Heffernan’s TED Talk on Super Chickens.

Help Extract the Greatness in Introverts

So how can you advocate for Introverts and enable extracting out their better ideas? Build your social capital. This goes for Introverts as well as ambiverts and extroverts. And if people aren’t able to bring up conflicting, controversial or challenging thoughts and ideas, you’re doing it wrong. And know that all of this takes time to build – like all good things in life (like a good bourbon). Here are some tips to be a better Introvert Advocate:

You Already Know What To Do

Of course you each have your own cultures and dynamics and would know when best to make adjustments to make all of this work and ultimately create a safe environment. And I really believe everybody’s job is to do that. And in a real way not fake way. And, if you’re one of those first to talk people, and nobody else talks when you prompted it. Talk to those people outside of the meeting and ask them what they need or if they do want to talk to begin with. If they don’t, that is not your problem. all I’m getting at here is when you get everybody to talk you get equality and productivity and happiness and great ideas and innovativeness and creativeness and y’all get to go home and eventually get more time to have your bourbon and pie ϖ. ~Σ

Chris Escobar is an Introvert Coach and also helps teams become more efficient through Change Transformation work. He resides in San Jose California with his amazingly supportive wife Boom Boom, sweet and smart daughter Zolie and ever loving and very funny son Evanusky. 

Oh, and a sassy Bichon named Lola.

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