Introvert Barrier #2

Give someone a chance to vote on leaders, and if they know the candidates, they would select the introverts. Yet if they don’t know the candidates, their guts would steer them away from the introverts. Why? Based on Barrier #2: perception gaps. (We have already addressed the intrapersonal barrier of introverts with the post Introvert Barrier #1. #2 – this post- is an interpersonal barrier)


When we rely on what we perceive to be true vs. what we know to be true, we quite often perceive things incorrectly about introverts. I know this, because I am an introvert and have been blessed with people around me willing to tell me these perceptions. Yet once people know me, they know better than to believe other’s perceptions about me to be true. Hence, there is a gap in perception and truth. Yet haven’t we often heard, Perception = Truth?

What is perceived about introverts are 3 key things:

  • We have no backbone
  • We generate negativity
  • We are slow thinkers

Starting with the last point – slow thinkers – here is a quick anecdote:
I just returned from a networking lunch where I joined a table of 7 others. As I looked around the table I saw 3 conversations in session. I was somewhat involved in one of them, commenting on occassion, and that was fine. My intent was to observe the group, take in who I wanted to meet and listen to and then let conversation happen.

Others at the table were quick to initiate – to pull the rest of us out of our heads and into the present. That is their comfort. Yet while I and a few others were taking in the moment, some of the group were judging us as slow thinkers. Maybe we didn’t respond immediately. Maybe we were content to take in the scene without constant participation. For us, networking is about selecting.

Although we could be generating negativity by being quiet or less energetic, we do have the capacity to smile and encourage. Those of us who are less confident will avoid those actions, for they also require active involvement. Introverts are not anti-social. They are one-to-one communicators.

And when it comes to backbone, there extroverts may have a firmer grip on our behavior barriers. Our reticence in speaking aloud our differences of opinion in front of a group may drive these perceptions. For introverts, we prefer speaking to individuals – hopefully those appropriate to the circumstances. The perception is accurate if we refuse to. Yet for most of us, we are willing to speak up. We simply select small audiences while doing so.

In leadership, we hope we can rely on folks with backbone, on folks who inspire positive experiences and on those who are solid thinkers. They needn’t be fast talkers, for we want them to listen. They needn’t be avoiders of sharing opinion or holding folks to account, for that is the opposite of the position they hold. And lastly, leaders need backbone. Whether this means having the guts to stay true to themselves or to support the common good.

The more we introverts are aware of the second most common barrier pattern we, by temperament, represent, the more we can practice behaviors that allow people to get to know us. To trust us. And to be influenced by us.

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On January 25th, 2012, posted in: Breaking down barriers, introverts, leadership by
One Response to Introvert Barrier #2
  1. You made various nice points there. I did a search on the topic and found the majority of persons will agree with your blog.
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