How Introverts Hide Behind Technology

Get out there and see someone. Pick up the phone. Have a real conversation. Stop pretending to take action.


For many introverts, the work pattern is less one of "ready, aim, fire" than it is "ready, aim, ready, aim, ready, aim," then pretend to "fire."

It is so easy to slip into approaches that appear to take action and engage others but are really forms of decision avoidance and/or people avoidance. For example, the analysis stage of decision-making can be prolonged forever if one requires that everything be known before taking action. There is usually "just one more" fact that needs to be tied down. Undeniable changes may have rendered prior analysis obsolete--may have. Our fear of acting rashly can lead us down an alley of additional analysis from which we will never emerge.

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We can send out letters and memos or call meeting after meeting in the guise of action, but unless there is a direct connection between action and result, all we are doing is fooling ourselves into thinking we’ve taken action.

Technology has become an introvert’s dream. We don’t go to a bar, a bowling alley or a night club, we go on Facebook. We don’t walk over to Sally’s office to get her take on the Simpson project. We send her an E-mail. Indeed, E-mail has become of the most commonly used action/people avoidance techniques. We shoot out flurries of E-mails when we should be sitting down with someone or, at the very least, picking up the phone and directly furthering a personal, as opposed to a paper, relationship.

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Lyndon Johnson used to run the United States Senate by keeping a phone glued to his ear. If E-mail had been available in his day, I doubt LBJ would have been tapping out messages to Senators Dirksen and Russell.

If we are to reach people, we have to use techniques that bring us closer to the subtle complexities of human behavior. We need to hear that catch in the voice, see the way the eyes glitter, and let them see and hear us. If you want to be more effective, stop hiding behind technology. Get out there and see someone. Pick up the phone. Have a real conversation. Stop pretending to take action.

Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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