I have really enjoyed reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. (I am presenting my synopsis of this book at our First Friday Book Synopsis this Friday). It is a terrific book, reminding us that nearly half of the people around us are introverts — many of them “faking” a little extroversion, because such extroversion is so expected and demanded in an extroversion heavy world.
Ms. Cain argues persuasively that we need to let introverts be a little more like introverts in the workplace. I was especially struck by her description of the rise of Dale Carnegie (the person, and then his still-prominent “industry,” found in the the Dale Carnegie books and courses. Take a look:
Dale observes that the students who win campus speaking contests are seen as leaders, and he resolves to be one of them. He signs up for every contest and rushes home at night to practice.
The new economy calls for a new kind of man—a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them. Dale joins the swelling ranks of salesmen, heading out on the road with few possessions but his silver tongue. Dale’s last name is Carnegie (Carnagey, actually; he changes the spelling later, likely to evoke Andrew, the great industrialist).
…the class is an overnight sensation, and Carnegie goes on to found the Dale Carnegie Institute.
“In the days when pianos and bathrooms were luxuries,” Carnegie writes, “men regarded ability in speaking as a peculiar gift, needed only by the lawyer, clergyman, or statesman. Today we have come to realize that it is the indispensable weapon of those who would forge ahead in the keen competition of business.”
Carnegie’s metamorphosis from farmboy to salesman to public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal.
It’s this line that is so telling:
The new economy calls for a new kind of man—a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them.
Dale Carnegie rose to the opportunity and circumstances of his new era. He became more extroverted personally, and in the process helped many others, for decades to come, also become more extroverted. But in so doing, he set in motion a set of expectations that, to this day, leave us just a little “out-of-balance.” And, partly with Susan Cain’s help, we are learning that there is a great need for the Quiet, the reflective, the solitary worker, to work in his/her “natural zone” to get some serious work done. Even for the extroverts among us (yes, I fall pretty far toward the extroversion end of the spectrum), we need some “quiet disciplines.” We need the introverts to help us get our work done, in business and in life.
If you are an introvert, and/or if you work with some introverts, or are married to one, read this book. It will help you understand, and work better with, those who fit at that introversion end of the spectrum.
If you are in the DFW area, come join us for this is synopsis. (Click here to register).
How and why our location on “the introvert-extrovert spectrum” influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions
Throughout most of her book, Susan Cain takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term “primarily” in the context of culture as well as one’s temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition. “If given a choice…” is a helpful phrase. Some people dread being the center of attention whereas the behavior of others indicates a pathological need for it. Not all introverts are shy and reluctant, however, and not all extroverts are bombastic and impulsive. Moreover, expediency can also come into play. As Walt Whitman affirms in “Song of Myself,” each person is “large”…and contains “multitudes.”
When writing her book, Cain was guided and informed by research in social science (e.g. Carl Jung, Jerome Kagan, Elaine Aron, C.A. Valentine, David Winter) supplemented by what she had learned from her own observations. She examines the inadequacies of several concepts such as charismatic leadership, the New Groupthink, the “Extrovert Ideal” (i.e. “the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight”), being or at least seeming “cool,” collaborative innovation, and being a more “assertive” student in the classroom. Historians’ accounts and media coverage must share at least some of the blame for widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.
Ironically, Carnegie is among the pioneers of self-help programs that emphasize “winning friends and influencing people,” the title of a book first published in 1936 that continues to be a bestseller. According to Cain, Carnagey (who later changed his name “likely to evoke Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist”) was a good-natured but insecure high school student. He was skinny, unathletic, and fretful. His subsequent career from farmboy to salesman to public- speaking icon demonstrates a shift in America “from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality – and opened up a Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
By the end of the book, Cain seems to include in the introvert category almost anyone who is “reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned.” Surely many (most?) of those who are extroverts also demonstrate one (if not several) of these attributes, at least occasionally. How would she categorize, for example, Richard Feynman?
The much more important point, in my opinion, is that assigning a label such as introvert or extrovert to someone denies the human complexity to which Whitman referred. Obviously, some people are more or less introverted or extroverted than others. It’s also obvious, that some situations (usually in a social context) require outgoing behavior whereas other situations (usually in an intellectual or spiritual context) require solitude, tranquility, perhaps even isolation
For me, some of Cain’s most valuable material is provided in Chapter 11, “On Cobblers and Generals” (especially pages 250-258) when she discusses the implications and consequences of many (most?) schools that are designed for extroverts. “The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.” She goes on to observe, “The school environment can be highly unnatural, especially from the perspective of an introverted child who loves to work intensely on projects he cares about, and hang out with one or two friends at a time.” Cain offers several key points for teachers to consider (e.g. “Teach all kids to work independently”), followed by several key points for parents to consider if they able to select a school (e.g. one that hires and supports teachers “who seem to understand the shy/serious/introverted/sensitive temperament”). I agree with Cain that appearance is not reality…but the fact remains, that the misconceptions she repudiates in her book are no less “real” because they are wrong, nor are “the personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover.”
Terry R. Bacon is a Scholar in Residence in the Korn/Ferry Institute. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lore International Institute. He has a B.S. in engineering from West Point and a PhD in literary studies from The American University. He has also studied business and leadership at Goddard College, Roosevelt University, University of Chicago, Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard. He is a prolific author and speaker, having written more than one hundred articles, white papers, and books, including Selling to Major Accounts, Winning Behavior, The Behavioral Advantage, Adaptive Coaching, Powerful Proposals, What People Want, and The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence (AMACOM, January 2011). Bacon’s latest book, Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead, was also published by AMACOM in July 2011.
He is chairman of the Fort Lewis College Foundation board and president of Music in the Mountains, a summer classical music festival in Durango, Colorado. During the last four years, Leadership Excellence has named him one of the top 100 thinkers on leadership in the world. You can learn more about him and his ideas and works at http://www.terryrbacon.com/, http://www.theelementsofpower.com/ or http://www.booksbyterryrbacon.com/.
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Terry. To read the complete interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
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Morris: When and why did you decide to write Elements of Influence?
Bacon: I have been researching power and influence for more than 20 years. In 1990, I created the Survey of Influence Effectiveness, a 360-degree assessment of power, influence frequency, and influence effectiveness. After the instrument was validated, we began collecting data from business people around the world. Several years ago, I began to analyze the data and found that we had a gold mine of information on how people build their power bases and how they use power to lead and influence others. Some of the results confirmed my hypotheses about power and influence, but other results were unexpected and gave me some new insights into leadership through influence.
Morris: To what extent is it an extension of Elements of Power?
Bacon: I began writing them at the same time. Initially, I had intended to write one book on power and influence, but the more I wrote the more I realized that the subject was bigger than I could reasonably explore in a single book. I had lunch in New York with my editor, Ellen Kadin, and told her how large the book had become, and she suggested separating the topics and doing two books. So Elements of Influence is very much an extension of The Elements of Power. They complement each other very well.
Morris: What differentiates it from Elements of Power?
Bacon: In The Elements of Power, I describe the eleven sources of power people can have—where that power comes from, how people can become powerful in each of the eleven ways, and how those power sources can become power drains. Character, for instance, can be a huge source of power for people who are perceived to be moral exemplars, but if they do something unethical or immoral, they can lose that power very quickly. Eliot Spitzer is a good example of this. Throughout this book, I also explain how readers can build each of these power sources. The second book, Elements of Influence, describes how people use their power to lead and influence others. This book describes the ten ethical influence techniques and the four unethical means of influencing others. Together, these books provide a complete picture of what enables anyone to make a difference in the world. The subtitle of the influence book is The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead, and that really captures the essence of both books.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing Elements of Influence?
Bacon: I had done a substantial amount of research before writing the book, so many of the head-snapping revelations occurred as I was reviewing the research findings. It was impossible not to be surprised and amazed as I examined those findings in depth and realized that some of my preconceptions about power and influence were wrong and as I learned more about this fascinating topic. One huge surprise, for instance, was the enormous leverage that expressiveness power has on a person’s effectiveness at leading and influencing others. Another surprise was how power and influence differed in the 45 cultures I studied. Of course, I also had some interesting revelations as I wrote the book. As a writer, I always create a fairly detailed outline of a book before I start writing, but the writing process itself is always one of discovery. For me, that is one of the joys of writing. No matter how much I think I know about a subject, I always discover more—and have some intriguing realizations—as I write.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does it differ in final form from what you originally envisioned? Please explain.
Bacon: As a writer, I do a tremendous amount of up-front work on books, so I know what the books is about, what I’m going to say in each chapter, and essentially how the book will look when it’s finished. So, once I’d made the decision to write about the power and influence topics in separate books, the final form of those books did not differ substantially from what I had originally envisioned. However, the content of the chapters evolved as I wrote them because, for me, like other writers, the process of writing is a journey of clarification and discovery.
Morris: What are the most significant differences between your book and others that also examine influence, persuasion, etc?
Bacon: A number of the books on influence and persuasion are primarily oriented toward marketing, so when those authors speak about influencing people, they often mean influencing consumers or buyers. Even Robert Cialdini’s classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, emphasizes how influence is used by marketers, peddlers, and salespeople. In Elements of Influence and the work I’ve done on power, I have focused more broadly on how people influence each other in everyday life: in business, at home, at school, in the professions, in the arts, and so on. I’m not as interested in the marketing applications of influence as I am in how people try to influence each other all the time. Furthermore, as comprehensive as Cialdini is, he doesn’t discuss every influence technique, such as engaging people by consulting them or influencing scores of people by being a role model. Gandhi, for instance, continues to influence millions of people (who never knew him) by being a role model of non-violent resistance.
Some other books on influence make outlandish claims. One promises to teach you how to get anyone to do anything. Another, titled The Science of Influence, claims that you can get anyone to say yes in eight minutes or less. Books like these are not scientific, and the claims they make don’t just border on the ridiculous, they ARE the ridiculous. Yes, people learn to become better at influencing, but to get anyone to do anything? In eight minutes or less? As I note in my book, if these claims were remotely reasonable, then why is there still conflict in the Middle East? People are more complicated than these authors imagine, and the claims they make on their book covers are good selling tools—but they’re false.
Morris: You refer to influence as an “art” but also suggest that there are elements of science involved when getting others to take one’s lead – to believe something wants them to think, or do something one wants them to do. Please explain.
Bacon: The art in influence comes in the ability to read others, intuit how they will respond to different forms of influence, build commonality and rapport with them, observe carefully and adapt as you interact with them. The science comes in understanding and applying the ten laws of influence, in knowing the different influence techniques and when to use them, and in studying the link between operating styles and influence effectiveness and using the principles gleaned from that study to more effectively influence people with different operating styles.
Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, what are the “ten laws of influence”?
Bacon: First, I think it’s important to define influence. It is the art of getting others to follow your lead—to believe something you want them to believe, think in a way you want them to think, or do something you want them to do. All of us try to influence others every day. We try to persuade others to accept our point of view on a political candidate, or we try to get them to buy something or accept the price we’re willing to pay for something they are trying to sell to us. Whether you are arguing a point, making a proposal, interviewing for a job, or asking for a raise, you are trying to influence people. And leadership is entirely about influencing other people. The basic principles of influence are what I call the ten laws, and they are:
1. Influence attempts may fail for many legitimate reasons. No matter how skilled you are, you won’t be able to influence everyone all the time.
2. Influence is contextual. People won’t be influenced unless they have the latitude to say yes, unless saying yes is consistent with their interests and values, and unless they have an agreeable disposition.
3. Influence is often a process rather than an event. You won’t always succeed the first time, but if you persist you may eventually succeed.
4. Influence is cultural. People in different cultures often respond differently to the same influence technique.
5. Ethical influence is consensual and often bilateral.
6. Unethical influence may succeed—but always at a cost.
7. People respond best to the influence techniques they use themselves.
8. If you are observant, people will reveal what they find most influential.
9. Influence usually involves a mix of techniques.
10. The more power you have, the more influential you will be.
If you understand these fundamental laws, you will be more influential.
Morris: Which of the ten fundamentals do most people find most difficult to master? Why?
Bacon: Number 8. If you watch people carefully and note how they try to influence you or other people, you can discover how best to influence them (and this law is based on law number 7. A man who tries to influence you by giving you the logical reasons for doing something is likely to respond well to logic himself. A woman who tries to influence you by citing an authority will probably respond well to legitimizing (an influence technique that works by appealing to authority). I’ve seen people who know this intuitively, but I’ve also seen others who struggle with it. They’ll try to use logic, and when logic doesn’t work, they’ll try a different logical argument. When that doesn’t work (and they become frustrated), they’ll try more logic. Instead, they should pay attention to what the person they are trying to influence is most responsive to and adapt accordingly.
Morris: Can almost anyone master the skills needed to possess and exert great influence?
Bacon: Yes, but the first step is to build their power base. If you don’t have considerable power, you won’t be able to exert great influence. The next step is to build your influencing skills and then learning to adapt your technique to the person and the situation. For example, if I want to be capable of influencing a number of people at one time and inspiring them to action, I need to be very good at an influence technique called “appealing to values.” The power sources that make appealing to values effective are expressiveness (being a superb communicator), character (being considered honest and trustworthy), attraction (having people like me or want to be near me), and reputation (being well regarded in my organization or society). I also need to be highly skilled at conveying energy and enthusiasm, building rapport and trust with others, listening, appearing self-confident, and using a compelling tone of voice. Many people can improve their skills in these areas. The most influential people become masters at them. Becoming a real master at influencing others may take years, but if they apply themselves everyone can become more influential than they are now.
In both this volume and in 50 Success Classics, Butler-Bowdon has selected and then provided a rigorous examination of carefully selected works which have had, for decades, a profound impact on those who read them and then applied the principles which their respective authors affirm. In this instance, inspiration and guidance to transform one’s life. There are several reasons why I hold this volume in such high regard. Here are three.
First, Butler-Bowdon has assembled excerpts and focused on key points from a wide variety of works which include (with authors listed in alphabetical order, as in the book), Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Robert Bly’s Iron John, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler’s The Art of Happiness, Wayne Dyer’s Real Magic, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Abraham Maslow’s Motivation and Personality, Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul, Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Obviously, some of this material would also be appropriate for inclusion in 50 Success Classics.
Second, I appreciate the fact that Butler-Bowdon also enables his readers to focus on specific themes of greatest interest to them by suggesting combinations of selections per theme as follows:
The Power of Thought: Change your thoughts, change your life
Following Your Dream: Achievement and goal setting
Secrets of Happiness: Doing what you love, doing what works
The Bigger Picture: Keeping it in perspective
Soul and Mystery: Appreciating your depth
Making a Difference: Transforming yourself, transforming the world
The diversity of Butler-Bowdon’s primary sources is indeed impressive even when grouped according to a common theme.
Third and finally, he makes clever use of a number of reader-friendly devices throughout his narrative, such as “In a nutshell,” “Final comments,” and a brief bio of the author at the conclusion of each selection. I also appreciate the inclusion of brief quotations wherever they are most relevant.
In the Introduction, Butler-Bowdon observes that a self-help book “can be your best friend and champion, expressing a faith in your essential greatness and beauty that is sometimes hard to get from another person. Because of its emphasis on following your star and believing that your thoughts can remake your world, a better name for self-help writing might be the `literature of possibility.’ Many people are amazed that the self-help sections in bookstores are so huge. For the rest of us, there is no mystery. Whatever recognizes our right to dream, then shows us how to make the dream a reality, is powerful and valuable.”
What he offers is by no means a buffet of motivational “hors d’oeuvres.” On the contrary, the content selected is solid and skillfully presented within an appropriate context. I am convinced that many of those who read this book will be encouraged to read (or re-read) many of the primary sources in their entirety. If Butler-Bowdon’s efforts accomplish nothing else, that will indeed be sufficient to earn the praise I think he has earned…and justly deserves.
They don’t call some authors classic for nothing!
“Only the prepared speaker deserves to be confident.”
At the conclusion of Chapter Six, she shares a number of valuable insights when supporting the concept of a business model based on trusting the customer.
“Business models that demonstrate trust in the customer have an exciting potential for growth. Most businesses today tend to ignore the issue or take it for granted. Of course, to actively trust the customer, a company first must make sure its own house is in order. You can’t sell faulty or unreliable products or services and then expect the customer to treat you fairly. But when you do your best on behalf of the customers and then trust the customers to do their best on behalf of you, you can create something lasting and valuable. People have a deep need to be trusted. They value the trust of others, and in general what people value they will pay for. It boils down to what Dale Carnegie advised long ago: give the other person a fine reputation to live up to. On that simple principle a commercial empire can be built.”
It is no coincidence that the same companies that are annually ranked highest in terms of being the most trustworthy are also annually ranked highest among those that are most profitable: L.L. Bean, Overstock.com, Zappos, Amazon, Lands’ End, Newegg, J.C. Penney, QVC, Coldwater Creek, and Nordstrom.
In this series, Bob Morris poses a key question and then responds to it with material from one or more of the business books he has reviewed for Amazon and Borders.
Long ago, I became convinced that I could not motivate another person and that even the most highly-regarded self-help books, such as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People couldn’t do that either. People must motivate themselves. However, that said, I am also convinced that it is possible to inspire people. The greatest leaders throughout history have done that.
So I think business books can “trigger” something in those who read them but here’s what is difficult to explain: Why are some business executives inspired by, let’s say, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography or Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and others are not? I know executives who frequently consult Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life to improve their people skills and others who think his observations are “obvious” and “simplistic.”
People are motivated to read business books for information, for new ideas, for reminders, for suggestions on how to improve specific skills, for benchmarks or examples, perhaps just for reassurances. Even when they obtain what they seek, they may not be motivated to act upon what they learn. (Jeffrey Pepper and Robert Sutton call this “The Knowing-Doing Gap.”) And sometimes, executives find the inspiration they seek in films or in non-business books. Or when listening to their favorite music. But whatever the source, the “key” to its value is self-motivation.
Comments, questions, requests, or suggestions? Please share them. They will be most welcome and I thank you for them. Best regards, Bob