Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reasons why you clam up in meetings and it's not all introversion

A new report on research from Virginia Tech explains how social dynamics in small groups can cause some people to clam up.  Those who seemed  most sensitive to their performance relative to others were most affected.

Introversion can also play a role because we all know that we need time and space to think and that's often not present in groups. There's no evidence from this article though that the researchers measured the personality trait of introversion so it's quite a leap for the writer to inject it into the conversation. (I have not checked the original research findings yet.) And what that potentially does is confuse the issues in readers' minds.

The article includes tips that are designed for introverts (like many that I offer in my book) but they seem misplaced because they fail to address the issue of oversensitivity to performance that was discovered by the research and the heart of the article. This gives me pause.  Introverts are not "oversensitive to our performance" as a function of being an introvert -- maybe we do that as a result of some other personality disposition but not introversion per se. 

Could this be another case where we will now be lumped into a category (read: stereotyped) - called "performance sensitive" - that has nothing really to do with introversion?

WSJ: Speaking up is hard to do

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