Social Pressures at Work

This morning I attended an executive breakfast that included a presentation in team building techniques for effectiveness.

Ironically, I had just read Susan Cain’s chapter, When Collaboration Kills Creativity from her book, Quiet. The gist I took from Cain’s chapter is, it’s okay to encourage collaboration, but add a healthy dose of individual, uninterrupted work to the mix. Yet from this morning’s presentation I felt the introvert’s need for quiet and focused individual work is forgotten in most work environments.


The presenter did well with his content on what builds team effectiveness, what is needed in each member for this effectiveness to happen and how best to lead these groups. He even engaged the audience immediately with thought-provoking questions. Interestingly, after he asked us all to consider and suggest the barriers to team effectiveness, some of the barriers mentioned were “some aren’t interested in participating”  and “a clash of introvert/extrovert temperament”. Yet the focus remained to create teams as the means to the end at work.

An introvert, I understand the value of solitary focus vs. team approach to problem-solving, creativity and follow-through. The ability to dive in, uninterrupted, to accomplish tasks and handle problems is efficient and productive for making good use of my skills. When I have a question or need more perspective, I then ask for help. My master mind group is something I use once monthly to give me additional perspective, insight, accountability and support. But when I’m tasked to get things done, I work best alone.

Most work environments appreciate diversity of style, culture and experience, yet few work environments address temperament differences. Susan Cain offers that when individuals are on their own completing tasks, their accuracy is 95%. Place these same individuals into groups and accuracy plunges to 25%! What a disservice to their abilities and waste of time!

I was the individual who called attention to the introvert/extrovert temperament in this morning’s talk, yet for fear of social pressures, I didn’t further my comments. Instead, I will personally connect with this presenter-trainer to share these startling statistics.

I believe our work environments can usefully build teams and create effectiveness within them, yet I also believe the majority of our time should be alotted for individual work, especially for introverts but also for the extroverts. This is key to individual development of thinking and production skills and accomplishment of most priorities.

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On March 29th, 2012, posted in: focus, introverts, social anxiety, value by