Social Rituals: A Day in the Life Sunday

As I pack my bag for a swim meet weekend I realize that if I play my technology, books and work projects right, I may not have to engage in any conversation I don't want to. I am not anti-social. I just don't do well in forced social situations.



I used to feel guilty about not getting excited about over the top celebrations, being utterly content with small gatherings of close friends and "settling" for a quiet dinner on my birthday. Surprise parties, vacation cruises and extravagant jewelry bought to mark a milestone are not important to me. Oh, I'll take them but they'll mean more to me if they are given out love, interest or desire and not simply because of a social ritual (click for link.)

I am not denouncing social rituals across the board. There are ones that reach out and grab me but there are others I can simply do without.

I love that my husband asked me to marry him in a rowboat on the Eibsee at the base of the Zugspitze (click for link) and had a ring to back it up. I love the markets, the lights, the festivities of Christmas Eve and waking up at home on Christmas morning. I love being beside my daughter each night until she falls asleep (or I fall asleep first). 

The ritual of hauling the clan from house to house on Thanksgiving to eat turkey or on December 25 to eat ham because the calendar says were are supposed to, I can do without. Who has time for family drama because you couldn't make it to a baby or wedding shower or mailed a birthday card out late?

Fortunately, this weekend's swim meet conversations are not forced and I enjoy them immensely. After 5 hours, however, I am ready to revert to my homebody ways and stick my nose in a book, my Google Reader or a round of Word with Friends. 

And I do.

{Quietly} Bringing Out the Best In Others

More and more, I am convinced that acceptance brings out the best in others. It is the answer to almost every interpersonal problem we face.

I finished reading, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain.  The animation done with Cain's argument on effective teams is captivating.

Considering that at least one-third of the people we know are introverts, it is important for leaders looking to make a difference to consider that the "most effective teams are comprised of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts.

Here are three ways you can use Cain's research to enhance group synergy, creativity and  leadership.

  1. Focus on substance rather than style. We see talkers as leaders and put a premium on presenting. Shift your focus from the presentation of an idea, to the idea itself.
  2. Make it easy for people to chat. Allow for natural face-to-face interactions. These interactions create trust in a way that on-line or forced communications cannot.
  3. Savor solitude. Put the emphasis on teamwork back where it belongs - on the shelf. Solitude is an important key to creativity lacking in many workplaces today.

Cain's research shows that "introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative-takers. Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, they are more likely to hear and implement suggestions." And, "with their natural ability to inspire, extroverted leaders are better at getting results from more passive workers." 

Introverts, this is a call to you. Your temperament is not a wonder, a worry or an excuse. "Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it." Don't wait for others to show you how.

Acceptance. It can change us. It can change others. Isn't that what leadership is about anyway?

===> Do you think leaders need to "Grow up and Lead?" I do. Help me spread the word by clicking here and then "Yes, please write this manifesto" at ChangeThis. Voting ends Jan 4.