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Quietly Fabulous: 8 Successful Introverts Prove the Negative Stereotypes Wrong

Quietly Fabulous: 8 Successful Introverts Prove the Negative Stereotypes Wrong

It may be hard for some of you to believe, but not every rich and famous person in the world got there by being boisterous and in-your-face all the time. In fact, some of the most intelligent, successful people are the quietest and most self-reflective among us. Many of the people on this list actually owe their success to the fact that they spend a good amount of time listening to and learning from others, and are not turned off by the notion of having hours to themselves with which to practice their craft.

1. Albert Einstein

Einstein is arguably the greatest mind in human history. Theories which he hypothesized decades ago are still being proven to be true years after his death. His theory of relativity has basically shaped theoretical physics and astronomy since its publication. Of course, none of this would have ever come to pass had Einstein not spent a great deal of time in deep thought. His dedication to the field of physics and astronomy required long hours of quiet study, but the results of his efforts changed the face of mankind forever.

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2. Steven Spielberg

The creator of Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park is a known introvert in the movie industry. But how else would he gain the knowledge and skills necessary to create the silver screen masterpieces he has throughout his amazing career if he had not spent thousands of hours watching and studying other directors’ works? The next time you tell your friends you can’t hang out, and then spend the next five hours watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix, think of Spielberg.

3. Mark Zuckerberg

It definitely is odd to think of the CEO and founder of the most popular social network in the world to be a bit, well, anti-social. But while the young billionaire is often at the heart of many large-scale presentations and speeches, he prefers genuine connection and intimate relationships to keeping a large posse of followers around. Think about it: he invented Facebook in his dorm room. If he hadn’t spent so much time creating the website in his room, you wouldn’t be able to waste so much time on Facebook in your dorm room!

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4. Larry Page

It’s incredibly ironic that the co-founder of Google, a system which caters to the needs of billions of people every day, is considered to be an introvert. We tend to think of introverts as people who aren’t really in tune with their fellow man, but seeing as Page has predicted societal trends correctly for the past two decades, it’s safe to say he’s actually more in tune with humanity than most of us are. However, despite the fact that his company is omnipresent in today’s world, Page himself remains “personally reserved” and “unabashedly geeky.”

5. J.K. Rowling

Rowling has gone on record to say that when the idea for the character of Harry Potter struck her, she was stuck on a delayed train with no pen, and was actually too shy to ask for one. Of course, being shy is not synonymous with being an introvert, but it is a tell-tale sign that she would rather think and work alone without bothering or being bothered by others. Had she not been stuck on that train for hours longer than originally planned, perhaps she would never have dreamt up the character who would make her a billionaire.

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6. Warren Buffett

The world-famous billionaire investor may have had a keen eye for business ventures from an incredibly young age, but he initially lacked the “businessman persona” needed to actually put his ideas into action. Since interacting with others didn’t come naturally to him, Buffett enrolled in Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” seminar early in his career. As with most of his other decisions, it’s pretty clear this investment turned out to be a great one for Buffett.

7. Steve Wozniak

You would think someone with an awesome nickname like “The Woz” would be a boisterous extrovert. But, like everyone else on this list, Wozniak loves working alone. In his autobiography, Wozniak writes: “Work alone. Not on a committee. Not on a team.” The sentiment in this short piece of advice is clear: he believes his ideas are his and his alone, and should not be homogenized by working with a group of people who may distort his original vision.

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8. Barack Obama

The leader of the free world is a known introvert. This might seem counterintuitive to such a high-profile position, since the President will always have to work with committees and groups consisting of people who may or may not agree with his policies and ideas. However, as previously mentioned, introverts believe in their own ideas wholeheartedly, and won’t bend for anyone else simply to appease the masses. Such a stoic, solitary personality, free of indecisiveness, is exactly what is needed to lead a country to prosperity.

Featured photo credit: Albert Einstein painted portrait _DDC9392 / thierry ehrmann via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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