Introverts are Sexy

Introverts are hot in case you hadn’t heard.

With the publication of Susan Cain’s excellent write “Quiet” we’ve suddenly realized its okay not to be an extrovert in the workplace. You can read my post on that book here.

Over the past few months Introverts are suddenly sexy: everyone wants to be one. Much like Meyers-Briggs, Disc, Social Styles, Colors, et al., as we discover another tool to help understand human behavior many of us rush to jump on the bandwagon.

Or perhaps, a la lemmings, we rush off the cliff.

Why do we hurry to apply new labels?

Tools and concepts like these are underscored by significant research and implied psychological understanding on the reader/user’s part. Ms Cain’s work, though accessible, is really part textbook meant to be reviewed and consulted again and again.

These tools are useful but not when applied with a pop culture reference in summary fashion.

You see, we don’t all understand what it means to be an introvert (read Ms Cain’s work). We don’t all get Meyers Briggs. We don’t all penetrate these issues to the degree the professional in HR should.

Especially in human resources and allied fields we tend to run toward the latest discovery – whether its the cheese that got moved, how to fish, or which habit is the best – and excitedly announce its application in our work. This is the solution we’ve been looking for! we say.

And the workshops begin.

We need to be more thoughtful with our clients

Like you I enjoy using the latest thinking to help address the organizational issues I’m facing. Who doesn’t want another tool in the toolbox?

Yet the application of a tool depends on the problem itself: introversion understanding, Maslow’s Hierarchy, Vroom’s Theory, etc., are useful in the proper context. We need to understand that context so we don’t wield tools inappropriately.


When all you’ve got is a hammer every problem tends to look like a nail

Its not necessary in most cases for our clients to understand Jungian psychology. People don’t need to get Meyers-Briggs, they don’t really need to internalize the various and competing schools of thought on motivation per se.

That’s what we do

Our clients trust us to use the right tools in the right way, just as they trust their CPA to be current and knowledgable on accounting practice.

We don’t need to prove to anyone else, much less ourselves, how smart we are, current we are and how leading edge our practice is by finding the sexy topic of the moment and addressing all of our workplace issues through the prism of its lens alone.

We can do better.

The tools and models referenced here are important to me and I continue to use each. Yet the value comes in the deeper understanding and application of same and not in the use of labels and pronouncements.

Human behavior is more complex than pop culture

Use all the tools you have available – not just the latest one – to do the best work you can do.


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