Me being quiet has nothing to do with how confident I am.
I find the idea that being quiet or not being the centre of attention in a crowded room is linked to confidence pretty absurd.
I've been working from the age of 17 and been in careers where I've had to interact with people one to one, and others where I've had to address an auditorium of a thousand people.
Whilst I fully understand that society recognises the projected voice as the dominant and superior one, I reject the idea that everyone else left behind is somehow inferior or needing help.
"Robi. Love the work that you've been doing, but we just need you to be a little more vocal"
"Just need you to be more confident in what you're doing"
"Could you look less afraid and more confident at approaching people?"
There have been instances where I've felt I've had productive and engaging conversations with people and then an employer watching from a distance will say something like 'You're too quiet' - completely negating the engagement that I've had.
Companies are more likely to hire people who "relish social life, and are energised by interacting with friends and strangers” – people who are “assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day”.
What 'go getters' might look like. The denizens of Shutterstock.
These descriptions of introverts and extroverts are taken from the website of Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She believes institutions are so geared up to hiring extroverts that the best candidates do not always get the job.
I can't begin to tell you how many job interviews I've had where I've clearly been the strongest candidate, and when asked what I do in my social life, I've been turned away. I'm not boring by any means, but why do I have to conform to preset extrovert norms when it doesn't affect how I do my job?
And I'm not the only one. Susans views are supported by a 2010 study by the University of Pennsylvania management school that found introverted leaders typically deliver better outcomes than extroverts.
The researchers suggest this because they are more likely to let proactive employees run with their ideas, whereas extroverts can feel threatened by employees who take too much initiative. The study also found introverts to be up to 20 per cent more likely to follow up colleagues’ suggestions than extroverts. This, say the researchers, is because introverts are better at leading and motivating initiative-takers.
My whole plight has lead me to consider taking workshops on public speaking and going to see confidence coaches (!) but I've come to the realise that I don't actually need it. I'm great at what I do and just because I don't have the loudest voice in a physical room, it doesn't determine how useful I'll be as an associate, client or employee.
We live in a society were we're expected to bombard strangers with how our lives are going on social media (much like I'm doing right now). I refuse to be s̶i̶l̶e̶n̶t̶ loud.