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Lifting the Mask on Introversion

Lifting the Mask on Introversion

In this episode of the Impostor Syndrome Files, I continue my conversation with Steve Friedman, who joined me in a previous episode. As an introvert and author of the new book, The Corporate Introvert, Steve shares powerful insights to help introverts understand their strengths and more confidently navigate their work environments.

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About My Guest

Steve Friedman is determined to champion a more authentic and successful life for introverts. After struggling for decades as an introvert in the corporate world, he began to learn about introversion while writing his memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert’s Story.

Friedman now provides inspirational posts, quizzes, and insightful resources for introverts at work and at home through his weekly blog at

Steve met his love, Jennifer, in Houston, Texas. Together, they have raised three amazing children, Gwendolyn, Madolyn, and Noah. They have all traveled the world and are now enjoying time hanging around the house together.

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Book: In Search of Courage: An Introvert’s Story New book: The Corporate Introvert


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Kim Meninger Welcome back, Steve. And as I mentioned to you before we hit record, I believe you are the first person to come back to the show. So, I’m excited to continue our conversation from where we left off last time. And I’m particularly fascinated by the work that you do because I am, I’m so aware of the, the challenges of being an introvert in the workplace these days. I am not an introvert myself, that’s not how I identify, but I’m particularly sensitive to it because a lot of the people that I work with are introverts and anything we can do to support introverts, to help them to feel more confident in the workplace, is something that I’m really excited to promote. So welcome back. And I would love to just kick it off with giving you a chance to tell us a little bit about your book and what you’ve been doing since we last spoke.

Steve Friedman Great. Well, thanks so much for having me back, Kim, it’s great to chat with you. I think there’s such a connection between what you do and impostor syndrome in general and introverts, and both at home and at work. And so, I think it’s a great opportunity for maybe some of the audience to connect with some new ideas. And hopefully, during our discussion today, we can share a few tips as well that, that help everyone. A little bit about what I’ve been working on since we last talked, so great opportunity here in COVID to absorb all that extra time and write another book. And this book has really come from a place of passion for me because it’s called the, The Corporate Introvert: How to Lead and Thrive with Confidence. And I spent 30 years in the corporate world and, and since retiring or getting close to retirement, I really connected, started to connect with my introversion and this book is an opportunity for, for me to really try and help accelerate some of the journey of, of so many other people in Corporate America that are struggling with a very strong corporate culture, and very difficult perception that often lingers amongst introverts. So maybe a step back into some of my journey, which really I like to capture by talking through the five phases of introversion. I think a lot of people feel like introversion is just a state of being you’re an introvert or you’re not. And if you are, well, that’s a difficult, difficult lot in life. And I think that’s definitely a perspective that has to change. And it’s hard to change, I for one took decades to change that perception. And that’s again, part of what I’m trying to work on is how to help others accelerate that journey. The first phase is what I call unaware, so many of us go through that from our childhood and sometimes well through our teens of just you know, we don’t know the word or the term introversion, we don’t know what that means. We just feel a little bit different, you know, whether it’s at school, out in the neighborhood playing with kids that you know, we might play with the kids for a while, but I know one of my sisters who is definitely an extrovert, loved to play with, with her friends, she could be out all day playing with her friends, and then she come home and she’d be on the phone all night. And I for one couldn’t really understand that. And, and I was happy to go out play for a while and then come back and do my own hobbies by myself reading or what other thing whatever other things around the house, and that to me was enjoyment. And, but when I was in groups, or when I was kind of put under pressure to perform, I just felt like I was different. Everybody else seemed to be kind of in the flow of things. And I was not and some people called me shy and I think I was shy to an extent but shy and introversion are different things, which is maybe another topic but, but I you know, I, I was diagnosed in different ways, oh, he’s just antisocial. You know, he’s a loner. I mean, some of these were really hard and hurtful sort of terms. And at that young age, we just don’t really know and many doctors will tell you that the formative years before and during our teenage years are when we are a lot of our personality forms. And it can certainly change and evolve over time. But it’s really difficult when for those that have those experiences as a kid. The second phase is uninformed. So somewhere along the line, we hear the word introversion. Maybe somebody tells us about it, we read it sounds like that applies to me. But then I don’t really learn a lot about it. It’s just kind of an application and therefore what I end up doing is fixing my mindset of introversion more to what the stigmas and myths are of introversion, so same sort of thing, you know, loner, introvert, wallflower, even one of the sources today says icicle, which is really cold and unnecessary. But even today, those myths float around in society, they float around in dictionaries and thesauruses, but they also float around in the heads of introverts. And so it’s really hard to kind of kick that. The, the third phase is what I call enlightenment, that’s oftentimes spurred by actually having quality time to learn about what introversion really is. And oftentimes this, this can happen in your 20s. But many people I’ve talked to it, it doesn’t happen till their 50s or 60s. And it’s really some, some people have read Susan Cain’s book Quiet, which is kind of the bible in the 21st century of introversion. And it really helps to kind of talk about it in a very candid way. And to realize that introverts have a lot of strengths. And so it’s not a difficult thing. Everybody has different personalities, we’re kind of on this spectrum of introversion and extraversion, we sit there at different times of the day, and we’re in different groups of people, and there’s no right or wrong place. And it really, whether you read that book, or you read other things, or talk to people, when you get to that enlightenment phase, it suddenly becomes a blessing instead of a curse. And so how you can accelerate your journey to get to that point is really helpful. Oftentimes, people have already gotten into their work, life, Corporate America, in many cases, certainly my case, and still haven’t gotten to the enlightenment stage. And so it’s really difficult when you feel like you’re being put on the spot all the time with decisions and performance in meetings and things like that at work, and still haven’t developed the knowledge of what our true authentic self really is. So again, the faster we can get to enlightenment, and really absorb the true sense of what introversion is, and what that means to me, the better off each one of us are. The last two phases are contentment and flourishing. So it’s really embracing who we are being comfortable in our own skin. Glourishing is really going, going beyond that, and thinking of all these things that perhaps we dreamt of doing, but really didn’t feel like we could do because we were held back by, by a lack of confidence and, and other challenges that, that can come with introversion when we don’t really understand what it is. And so when you realize that, oh, I can do all those sort of things, I just need to do it my way, not somebody else’s way, then it releases all those opportunities and it can be really exciting. And so the book really talks about how can we accelerate that first, to learn more about ourselves. And then when we understand what our genuine approach is, then we can apply that to meetings and networking, communications and leadership, and in a much simpler way. And so it’s an exciting path, but many people still struggle to find their way along that journey.

Kim Meninger That’s a really helpful way to think about it. And I have so many questions for you. But I want to start with your perspective having been in the corporate world for as long as you have what makes the way that work is structured today, or has historically been structured, so difficult for introverts?

Steve Friedman Well, I think that’s a great question. And I think it’s interesting because the word when you say today, I think that’s really critical, because the workplace, for many people, is changing and has changed over the last several decades. When I started in the late 80s, it was a command and control style of leadership. So this is what you do. And this is how you do it. And, and so you do it, and then you tell me how you did it. And it’s all about the seemingly was all about the loudest voice in the room, the one that was the most confident that would make decisions rapidly, and would shoot from the hip when necessary, and could chitchat and rub elbows all the time. And I grew up in that world. And that is a really difficult world for introverts. Today, things have changed a lot. And I really think it’s part of the whole diversity and inclusion wave that is, that is started and over over the last several decades and, and continues and needs to continue. And most of us think of people of color, and various genders and things like that, which are certainly very important developments in Corporate America and still have a long way to go. But the other aspect of D&I that’s happening is really the perspective of personality and thought. So it’s typically below the surface. But instead of having the historical styles that we talked about, command and control and so forth, that today, a lot of companies and certainly customers and employees are wanting and needing a different kind of environment and culture in the workplace. So they don’t want to command and control. They want a collaborative sort of environment where everybody can contribute. And that means the loud people need to contribute but also the quieter people, the ones that want to talk a lot and the ones that tend to listen and together, we can create better solutions, more creative solutions, more solutions that represent the customers that we’re trying to serve. Because after all, around the table, we are generally the same demographics of the customers around the table that we’re trying to serve. But if half of the people, introverts in particular, are quiet, not encouraged to participate, don’t feel comfortable to participate, then their voice just isn’t out there. And while there’s certainly a lot of changes, these days in Corporate America, you know, there are certainly places that are still difficult for, for that kind of evolution to happen. But the environment that’s there matched with the confidence of the employee themselves, can really make a tremendous difference in your work experience.

Kim Meninger I’m glad you brought up the diversity and inclusion piece too because I think that it is important to continue to expand the conversation around diversity. And we do like you said, tend to think about it in terms of very observable differences between people. But the neurodiversity piece, I think, that you’re talking about is really important, too, because it may not be obvious. And it may be the case that you, for example, are struggling to try to force-fit yourself into an extrovert’s world in the workplace, right. But if I, as your manager understood that you’re an introvert and all that comes with, then I can better support you and better access your skills and talents, right? If, if you feel the need to conform to a more traditionally extroverted model, or you feel somehow like there’s something shameful about who you are, you’re not going to, you’re not going to share that information with other people and give them an opportunity to better understand how to best connect with you.

Steve Friedman That’s so true. Little story. A few years ago, I retired, had a retirement party, dozens of people from various different parts of my work experience were all together in a room for the first time really people that I had worked with in different capacities. Some I led, some I worked alongside or worked for, and we got to talking about well, what is next for me, so I wanted to as a kid, so I wanted to write and connect. And my writing was kind of focused around this thread of introversion that I found in my life after kind of being very introspective over the last several years. And when I shared that news, with, with the people in the room, literally, the room went quiet. And people started to look around. And then somebody raised their hand and said, you know, you’re not an introvert. I mean, I’ve worked with you for years, we’ve gone out, we’ve had dinner, we’ve traveled, we’ve worked on projects, there’s no way you’re an introvert, and everybody else kind of shook their head and nodded and said, yeah, that, yeah, I don’t see it. And I said, you know, I thought about that for a long time and have since and I thought first, my first impulse was that I had pulled it off this big caper, I’d worn a mask for decades, and I pulled it off, everybody in that room didn’t realize that I was an introvert. And my second thought was, what an unfortunate missed opportunity for me — one because wearing that mask was not a healthy process for me, you know, I had physical ailments, I certainly lacked confidence and self-esteem because I felt like I couldn’t be my true self at work most, most of your waking hours. And so what a missed opportunity for me to just shed that the stereotypes and maybe buck the trend at the, at the work level, and just be me. And then the last thing I really regretted was, as I learned more about half of the people in the world and roughly half the people in most work settings are introverts. You probably wouldn’t know that or think that it was half because most introverts tend to be quiet, kind of roll under the radar. But they are about half the workplace and myself as a leader for about half my career missed the opportunity to be an introverted leader, to be able to stand up and say, hey, I’m a leader and I’m also an introvert. And so all you other introverts out there, you know, we can do this, we just have to learn to use our strengths and so forth, and to be a role model for other people that are maybe having the same struggles that I had. And so those were some of the regrets I had, but and really some of the motivation I have in what I do today and the purpose to help other introverts at work in particular. But I think that many other people struggle with that mask and, and it’s just really an unfortunate experience that, that people tend to go through because they feel like they have to because the cultures and many of these companies are so strong and still are today.

Kim Meninger You’re absolutely right. It is really unfortunate. And I’m curious, if you have thoughts on, let’s say that someone’s listening, and really resonated with what you’re talking about. And the culture just feels really strong, it feels like, gosh, there’s nothing I can do to change the fact that there’s this bias towards extraversion. What? What’s the first step? What can I think about doing to either communicate more openly about who I am with others? Or how to think about what I can do with my own environments to empower myself? Like, what are some of the things I can, I can start to think about?

Steve Friedman Think of it in two different ways, what can I do for myself, and what can I do for the, for others in the corporate culture, leadership, and so forth, that that already exists in the company. So first, for myself, we’ve talked a little bit about it. But I think it’s really important to learn about introversion, not just on the surface, but to really understand what that is, what our typical strengths are, I have, a have a quiz on my website, which is free, and anybody can take it.1500 people have taken it actually, I think because it provides them some insight into what their strengths truly are. And I think once we understand our strengths, then we can start to use them and practice them at work. Because if, if we don’t recognize our strengths, and we tend to approach meetings, networking, or leadership like the other people around us do, and if I try and do those things as extroverts do, I’m not going to be comfortable, I’m not going to do it very well. And I’m going to be just not feeling confident in myself. But if I do it the way I can do it, so that that oftentimes means managing my energy level. So there are certain things for everybody that drains our energy and certain things that, that build our energy. So to make sure during the day that we’re not just going on a complete drain throughout the day, but that we’re taking time, taking some breaks, maybe it’s a walking break, maybe it’s a couple of minutes of meditation, maybe it’s reading or listening to music, talking to a friend and doing some things that will help to re-energize us so we’re ready for the more contentious meeting, or the challenging discussion or the social event at the end of the day. So I think that helps us to build our energy so we can do our best work. We also need to understand so networking is oftentimes a challenge for introverts. So how can we network? Well, you know, I always guide people to network in a small way. So instead of trying to network by going in a room of 20 people, especially if we don’t know them, just network with one at a time, have a lunch, have a coffee, get to know, get to know you do it on zoom, if you’re not back in the office and try and find ways to network and build relationships. Introverts are actually quite good at building relationships, and deep meaningful relationships often much better than than the kind of superficial ones that many extroverts might develop at a big cocktail party. But it’s not about how many business cards I can take home, it’s about can I develop a couple of really meaningful relationships, whether it’s friendships and social environments, or it’s working relationships. And so it’s so I think one of the answers to your question is we have to figure out how to do those things our way and not somebody else’s way. And that builds confidence for us.

And that leads in to the second answer to your question, and that is, we really need to share our introversion. I’m not saying that we should go out and put a billboard out on the highway and say that Steve Friedman is an introvert. But I do think that we start small, we talk with some of our friends and let them know hey, you know, and it may not be I’m an introvert, but you know, I do things a certain way. How do you approach these things? Isn’t it interesting that we have different approaches, but we, we can both be very successful and doing the same things in different ways? Having a discussion with your manager is, can be anxious, but it’s really critical. Because when you have that discussion about here’s how I approach things, here’s the strengths. So we’re not asking for pity. And we’re not asking for, you know, an understanding of how, how we’ve accomplished so many things, despite our introversion, we’re actually just saying, we have a lot of strengths. And so we bring even-mindedness to the table, we bring thought we listen. And so we observe a lot of things. We bring deeper relationships, a lot of things that leaders should want their team to have in combination with some of the traits that other people bring around the table. And so if we share that, then the manager understands that the elephant in the room is, is revealed. And so then we can talk about how can I grow my strengths? No, so not how can I be the most sociable person at a party. That’s misdirected leadership, if that’s what they’re aiming for, but how can I use my strengths to bring even more solutions to the workplace, to team leadership and so forth? And so I think it’s having that conversation to share with them. And I think, like with many forms of diversity, when other people start to talk about it and learn about what does it really mean, not on the surface, but what really mean to be an introvert, and what are the strengths, then we can have some really productive dialogue about how to have a better work environment for everybody.

Kim Meninger I love that you really focus on the strengths piece of that because I think you make a really important point, if I’m going to talk to my manager and have this conversation, I’m not going in there asking for special treatment or an accommodation, right? You’re, what you’re saying is, I have more to offer, I can add much greater value in different circumstances or under different conditions, than perhaps an extrovert would and you’re not getting the best of me, if the only opportunity I have to contribute is in these large group settings or in settings that require that I, like you had said before shoot from the hip. Right? That’s, that’s not how I do my best work. And I think that’s a compelling argument to any leader who wants to maximize the potential of their employees.

Steve Friedman Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. You know, leaders should want to have, to meet their goals and be a successful team. And they want to support and motivate their employees and get the most out of their, their employees. And so here we’re having a conversation and sharing with them exactly how they can do that. There are some people that may not accept that you know, that many leaders are extroverts, just because that’s how the culture has been. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best leaders. But many of them are still they’re so focused on how can I lead a great team. And so you’re giving them part of the formula that they may not have ever thought about, or really understood. And they might believe completely in diversity, but haven’t thought about the diversity of thought as much, or, you know, they sit around in a team meeting, and they’re leading their team meeting, and they see that there’s a couple of people on the periphery that tend to be quieter, well, they could very likely be introverts. So the question should be, it shouldn’t be, well, those people are quiet, I just can’t see their future, it should be they have a lot of untapped potential, they have a lot of consideration and thought process going on in their head that I want to bring to the table. But sitting there and demanding it doesn’t really work. Understanding them, and learning about how they operate and how we can have meetings that bring everybody’s voice into the table, into the room, which is really the questions that they should be asking and inviting others to do, so that they can have the most productive meeting.

Kim Meninger So what would you suggest to a manager? So I’m in a scenario in which let’s imagine that I have someone on my team that’s working for me and shows up in ways that I imagine are signs of introversion. So they’re, they’re quieter in a meeting. They’re not, they’re not showing up in these traditionally extroverted ways, but they’ve never identified themselves that way. So I don’t necessarily want to pull them aside and say, you know, are you feeling comfortable in this sort…? I would prefer that they come to me so that I don’t overstep or make assumptions about what’s motivating their behavior. What’s a good way for me to support somebody who may be more introverted on my team while still respecting their boundaries? And, you know, not, not being overly intrusive in how I talked to them about it.

Steve Friedman I think it’s a lot of it is just asking questions and inviting them into the conversation. So yeah, I like the way you talk about that, because it’s not. Some people don’t like labels. So if somebody comes out and says, hey, I think you’re an introvert, let’s talk about that. I might be fine with that. And happy to have that conversation, but others may not be I think it’s just starting off with having a conversation about what do you think about that topic? Or how would you approach that and trying to get their ideas out, instead of having a meeting where it’s a brainstorming, meeting, and a, you know, a rapid round meeting where everybody’s storing their ideas on the table? Okay, let’s bring in sticky notes. And here’s the topic. And maybe I share that in advance so that everybody in the room has a chance to think about it, because introverts oftentimes need a little bit of extra time and space to really think about it because they think about it, oftentimes on a deeper level. So here’s the agenda in advance so everybody can think about it. Now we’re going to talk about one particular issue. So everybody take two minutes, jot some things down on sticky notes, and we’re going to either go around the table, or we’re going to put them up on the wall and then we’re gonna have a discussion and it really helps introverts and reserved people to really have a chance to relax, and get their thoughts out on paper, and then they’re much more comfortable to talk about them. I think a lot of introverts, myself included, oftentimes we struggle because we get anxious because we’re put on the spot. And so suddenly we freeze, I call it introverts’ paralysis. So we freeze up, you know, even on the simplest things about oh, tell me a little bit about yourself. And suddenly, we can freeze around a meeting table when asked simple questions. If we’re eased into it, then we tend to relax. And when we relax and our true knowledge, which is there, we can, we can let that flow and we can get into the conversation. And so by let, giving us a chance to jot down notes on a sticky note, or prepare for a meeting in advance by knowing the agenda, we can be that participant and also, you know, not, not pressuring somebody to always be the most talkative person in the room. Right? I believe listening is learning. And so there will be people, introverts and extroverts that will sit in the room, and they might listen a lot during the meeting. That’s fine, don’t pressure them to talk. But usually, at a point in time, they’ve kind of massage the information that they’re getting in the meeting. And they usually have some pretty unique perspectives to share with the team. And they will feel oftentimes feel comfortable to share those. But I think it’s also helpful for the manager every once in a while, especially when you’re getting ready to shift topics to go around the room and ask, okay, does anybody have anything else they’d like to say? So you’re not pointing out Steve on the other side of the table saying, hey, what do you have to say, but does anybody have anything else. And if you make that an inviting sort of environment, then introverts and everybody else will be comfortable to share. And suddenly, you’ve got a much more vibrant conversation than you would have otherwise.

Kim Meninger And one of the things that stuck out to me too is when you were telling your story about the retirement party, and you talked about the fact that you had missed an opportunity to show up for the other introverts, right. So what I’m thinking about as you’re talking too, is that whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert, if I notice that these dynamics are happening within a meeting, or within a particular work environment, there’s an opportunity there too, let’s say, go to the group organizer, or to the leader and say, hey, let’s take into account the fact that there are people who would probably be, be more comfortable if we had the agenda sent out earlier, or if we did carve out more time for these types of processing your thoughts and not just jumping right into. And so I see it as sometimes it can feel really awkward if you feel like you’re asking for your own benefit. But if you think about that as a service to not just yourself, but to the other introverts in the space, that can be a good motivator too, I would imagine, to take that extra step because I’m, I’m going to go out on a limb here just as an extrovert and assume that a lot of this behavior isn’t intentionally exclusionary, right? It’s just that if you see the world in a certain way, and no one’s ever brought it to your attention that there’s a different way to think about things or a different way to do things, it’s easy to, it’s easy to overlook this right? So I think it’s, it’s helpful if you have this information, to be willing to share it with other people to just as a form of education, and hopefully that person will be receptive to it. But you know, it’s, it’s it goes beyond your own personal opportunity.

Steve Friedman Yeah, I think that’s, I think that’s right. And you know, a lot of people introvert or extrovert will say, yeah, I’m busy enough taking care of myself, but I do think that introverts have an obligation, certainly an opportunity to advocate for themselves and other introverts. If we don’t ask, we don’t get and if you don’t ask, or just make other people aware, like you said, everybody generally has really good intentions, they want to have a good work environment, they want people to be engaged, they just may not know so it’s incumbent upon us to do a little bit of educating, do it in a tactful way. You know, we’re not calling our manager on the carpet and saying you really ran a crappy meeting. But how about this or I know from my perspective, I would feel much more comfortable if I had the opportunity to read that pre-read in advance, and or you can even make it up but I was in a meeting last week and everybody had pre-read and it was amazing. I’ll tell ya, everybody was participating. I have not seen it like that before. And there are some people that I know have been notoriously quiet and they were all participating. Maybe we should try and make that a standard for, for meetings is that we always issue a pre-read and an agenda. And so there are ways and some managers will be very receptive to it. Few might not be but generally, you know, their intentions are good and they just need a little bit of education themselves on, on how to do that.

Kim Meninger I am hopeful that the more conversations like these we have, the more people will raise their own awareness and we’ll start to see some change that becomes more embedded in the way that people work. I’m, I’m curious too given that we’re probably not going to get away from this model entirely for some time, if ever, and you had mentioned the, the anxiety that comes with being put on the spot, and the, the ways in which these structures can make it difficult to put your thoughts together, to have the kind of space that you would want to process. What do you do? Or do you have thoughts that, that you would share with people around if I can’t avoid it, right? If I’m just in that meeting that’s never gonna change. But I’m being put in these positions where I have to show up in ways that are uncomfortable for me, are there things I can do to make myself more comfortable in a situation like this?

Steve Friedman Yeah, that’s perfect. So really the, the number one strength that came out of all of our surveys, and I think it resonates with the vast majority of introverts is preparation. So we have the opportunity to prepare whether somebody gives us an agenda or not, we do have the opportunity to prepare, whether it’s just for our day, a project, meeting, leadership, challenges, whatever it might be, but we have to carve that out ourselves. I mean, we’re all busy. You know, you can come in at eight or nine or six in the morning and be running all day long. That’s probably not helpful for an introvert in particular, when I finally recognized that myself, I started coming in and kind of blocking out some time on my calendar, certainly at the beginning of the day, but then every once in a while during the day, to make sure I had some time to prepare for meetings. If I was going from one meeting to another to another all back to back, I really didn’t have time to prepare mentally, or to really understand and get ready for the topic and think about what are my perspectives on this? What questions do I have? What comments would I like to share? If I prepare jot a few notes down, I feel much more comfortable to go into the meeting room, ready to have be part of the conversation. So whether it’s that or it could be a social event, we have a networking or social event at the end of the day, or, or just on the weekend for, for me personally. So rather than dive in and go there, I might take a little bit of time and think about who’s going to be there, who would I like to talk to, do I remember some things that we had in common the last time I talked to this person, either hobbies or family activities, trips, business, whatever it might be, so we can strike up a conversation. If I really prepare, I could go sneak a peek in their social media to see what’s going on there, and what are their hobbies and things like that. So I can find people that I have things in common with to strike up conversations, or people that I would rather avoid or whatever the case may be. So I’m best prepared for those situations. So yes, I’d like to have that meeting agenda and pre-read. But in any case, I can control my calendar, I used to talk to my team all the time, that we control our own calendar. So we should really be very respectful of others’ calendar and really take, take ownership of our own. So create those spots where we can take a little bit of a break so that we have more energy at three o’clock than we might have at 10 am. But we’ve taken breaks. And we’ve thought about that. And, and we’ve prepared for the meetings that we know are going to be challenging sometime later in the day perhaps. So that’s the main thing I would suggest I used to think that preparation was kind of a nerdy thing that I looked around, and most people didn’t do it. And frankly, maybe most people didn’t need to do it, they could come into a meeting and just hit the ground running and make an impact. But I knew that I couldn’t do it that way. And so I had to take ownership of my own time. And when I started to do that I felt much more comfortable, I could relax in meetings, and I could really contribute the way I wanted to.

Kim Meninger I really appreciate that, because I’m always biased towards self-empowerment. Right. And I think that there’s a lot to be said for what we were talking about earlier of trying to influence cultural change. But that takes time. And it also depends on the personalities of the people around you. This what you’re, what you’re sharing is something that anybody can do. And I think that’s really powerful. And so for example, if it’s not part of the standard procedure to share the agenda ahead of time, you could still ask, you can go in. And that’s what I generally recommend to is go talk to the person that is organizing the meeting and ask, what do you want me to prepare? How can I best contribute to this conversation? What are we going to be talking about? I think that can go a long way too and then and then also I want your thoughts on because I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to help people who say, I’m put on the spot during a question that, you know, I’ve been asked that I was hoping to have a little bit more time. And one of the things that I often say is to is to respond with well, generally, I like to take some more time to process but here are my initial thoughts and I can follow up with you later with some additional analysis or something like that, that just sort of gives people that the information that I’m going to, I’m going to continue to think about this. And I can follow up with a more detailed response later. But here’s my in the moment reaction to what you’re saying,

Steve Friedman Oh, that’s perfect. And you know, we’ve all been there. And the worst thing we can do is try and just kind of run through it and top of the head sort of things under pressure. And sometimes it’s not what we really wanted to say, or we’re making up facts or so yeah, it’s best to say, yeah, I really would like some time, let me let me grab some time. If you need my initial thoughts, here’s, here’s a couple of things I’m thinking about. I also find that asking questions is really helpful, because it gives us one, we’ll learn a little bit more about the issue at hand by just asking some questions. It also gives us a little bit of time for us to catch up in our mind with what’s going on. And then maybe there’s some thoughts that, that we collect as we’re asking questions and getting some answers, so it gives us that that benefit of some time as well if we’re gonna say, I’m going to get back to you with more thoughts, then we just need to make sure and get back to them with more thoughts. And that way they can understand, hey, you know, everybody operates a little bit differently. And there are some occasions where there’s emergencies or something, and we have to act now. But most of the time, people just want the best information. And so if we need to get back to them, and it may just be in an hour or by the end of the day, but make sure you get back to them. But that information probably will be a lot better quality and help them in whatever work they’re trying to do.

Kim Meninger And it definitely I would imagine make you feel more confident to share that than to try to like you said fumble your way through a response that doesn’t feel natural to you.

Steve Friedman Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Kim Meninger Yeah. Oh my goodness, Steve, we’ve had such a great conversation so far. As we wrap up, are there anything any other thoughts that you want to share, anything that we didn’t get to today?

Steve Friedman I think that it’s, it’s really, we’ve covered so much. And I love the idea that we’ve covered both what is our responsibility in this whole equation. There’s oftentimes introverts that will kind of point fingers and say, you know, those other people, they just don’t give us a break or a chance. And, yeah, that might exist in some places. Not not too often these days, I don’t think. But when it does exist, we have to take ownership for our own responsibility. But it all a lot of people talk about and as I was putting the book together, the question was, well give me some tips on how I can do better in meetings or in leadership. And we talked about some of those. But the book really starts out first by learning more about ourselves, because the answer to those questions is, the bottom line is to do it our way, whatever that is, do it the way I’m most comfortable to do it or the way you’re most comfortable to do it. And we can’t do that until we learn a bit more about ourselves, what our strengths are, how can we apply those in different work situations. And so it’s really taking a little bit of time and thinking through that and learning and then from that, and practicing and stretching ourselves in slow and slow, methodical ways we can build confidence that helps us to truly exert our own thoughts and personality at work.

Kim Meninger That’s such a great point. I do think that everything starts with greater self-awareness. Right. And I and I think it sounds like your quiz is a great place for people to start with that. Yeah. So tell us a little bit too about when the book will be available. I’ll certainly put more information in the show notes, too. But well, where can we find it? When? When can we find it?

Steve Friedman Thank you. So we’re launching on October 6, so you can find the book, certainly at Amazon, many online locations, some independent bookstores as well. And you can also find more information about that by my weekly blogs, my quizzes that we’ve talked about a little bit on my website, which is So it’s all out there as well as ways to get your copy of The Corporate Introvert.

Kim Meninger Well, thank you so much. See, there’s so much here on this topic. And in this conversation. I’m sure I can have you back another time when you’re right, you’re right. Sounds great. Thank you so much for another great conversation. It’s been great talking to you and best of luck with the book.

Steve Friedman Thanks a lot, Kim. Appreciate it.

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