Quiet still gets a bad rap. I have never heard anyone say “Oh, she’s a bit quiet” with a positive tone. I hear about quiet achievers being great contributors who get overlooked or ‘used’ for their ability to deliver, rather than recognised as they should. It is only when prompted that people start to think about those quieter people who add a lot of value.
You can be quiet for reasons other than being an introvert, so Quietly Powerful is not just for introverts. Quiet approaches have many advantages in the workplace, but because they aren’t as visible, many of us miss them. Here are eight quiet strengths to look for, appreciate and develop:
A quiet approach can build deeper relationships – you may not have the gift of the gab to entertain, but are better at listening and making deeper connections. Your focus is on the other person, not yourself. We all can think of quieter people who, when you are with them, make you feel safe, listened to and valued.
Complex problem solving and strategising is carefully considered, not rushed – a quieter, reflective approach means you don’t rush decisions. While it may feel slow for some people, it is how organisations can avoid over-simplifying complex problems or cover them up with quick fixes. It is also a way to minimise biased, under-informed decisions coloured by our cognitive biases.
Influencing is easier if you’ve listened to someone individually – the quieter approach to influencing is one of individual consultation and inclusion. It involves speaking with key stakeholders one on one to hear their concerns and work through them to get to a solution. They tend not to push their ideas through with persuasive talk in groups.
Selling is focused on helping, not pushing – there is often an assumption that quieter people cannot sell. The quieter approach to selling involves more listening and less pushy selling. It is less about self-promotion, more about helping people with what they are buying, whether it’s a product, service or a cause.
Public speaking is more audience focused – many people shy from public speaking as they dislike being the centre of attention. Focusing on the audience instead then becomes a strength. A quiet approach to public speaking involves solid preparation and involving the audience. Public speaking is a skill that can be learned and many great speakers are naturally quiet.
Group discussions are more inclusive with a quiet facilitator – the tendency to focus on the other translates to facilitating group discussions without over-involvement. The quiet strengths show up in their listening, connecting ideas and drawing ideas out of the group. If you want the group to do the work, get a skilled facilitator who can use their quiet strength.
Coaching is informed and deeper – powerful coaching happens when the person being coached does most of the thinking and talking. A quiet approach allows space for people to think, prompted by questions that follow what’s been said. The quiet strengths of listening, focusing on the other, and deepening one on one relationships are big advantages when coaching.
Difficult conversations are easier with a good listener – the quiet approach to difficult conversation involves listening to understand. When done well, differences are addressed before they turn into conflict. Difficult conversations are approached with patience and an intention to work with the other to address differences.
Join us at our upcoming events about how your quiet nature can be your strength, and expanding our definition of good leadership. We have sessions in Melbourne on 30th April for breakfast or 5th May for morning tea.