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What if Introverts Shaped the Workplace?

11.06.2013
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Wonderful interview from the The Washinton Post, which sits down to chat with Lillian Cunningham, editor of the Post’s On Leadership section, to discuss introverts relationships with the workplace. The main question: What would be different about the workplace if it was built to cultivate introverts assets instead of extroverts? Excellent conclusions arise.

Q. How have you seen the extrovert ideal play out in corporate America?

A. It permeates every aspect of our corporate life and culture. Everything from how we structure our offices to how we expect people to be creative to whom we groom for leadership positions.

The vast majority of employees work in open-plan offices, where you’re in a big open room with other people. There are economic reasons for setting up offices this way, but the theory is that it’s said to produce greater collaboration and greater creativity. For many introverts, in particular, this is a really uncomfortable way to work. It’s an incredibly overstimulating environment, where it’s hard to concentrate.

Ironically, it’s not really much better for extroverts. There are lots of deleterious effects of these open-plan offices. They impair people from concentrating, they make people physically ill—literally, because there are so many germs floating around—and then the greatest paradox of all is that they actually prevent people from forming close friendships. If you think about it, the way that you start a friendship with somebody is that you exchange confidences. That’s the currency you offer as a friendship forms. If you’re in a big, open office and you feel like you can be overheard, you’re less likely to have intimate relationships with people.

Originally posted HERE

Published at DZone with permission of its author, David Austin.

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