• TOPICS
  • EVENTS

    Business Writing and Presentations
    Wed., Sep. 4-Dec. 11, 2019
    6:25-9 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (graduate course)

    Presentation Skills for Introverts®
    Thu., Mar. 26 & Apr. 2, 2020
    6-8:55 p.m. ET
    New York University
    (2-session workshop)

    PAST WEBINARS AVAILABLE ON DEMAND:

    How to "Talk the Talk" at Professional Events (free)
    Columbia University Alumni Career Services

    How to Think on Your Feet: Improv Skills for Business
    Co-facilitators: Nancy Ancowitz and Carl Kissin
    American Management Association

    How to Deliver Powerful Presentations as an Introvert
    American Management Association

    Essential Management Skills for Introverts
    American Management Association

    How to Project Confidence with Demanding People
    American Management Association

    Secrets of Successful Public Speaking
    American Management Association

    SAMPLING OF IN-HOUSE WORKSHOPS:

    Tango for Leaders
    For organizations

    Success Strategies for Introvert Leaders
    National Institutes of Health
    (Workshop for NIH employees only)

  • BOOK REVIEWS
    Publisher's Weekly
    "Best Books"
    The New York Times
    "Currently winning our race for most intriguing book title of 2009 is the oxymoronic “Self-Promotion for Introverts” by Nancy Ancowitz (McGraw Hill). The 'how to' book is filled with tips (rehearse is a favorite). The author’s tone is supportive and she does not argue that introverts should become live wires. But what else would you expect from a book whose subtitle is 'the quiet guide to getting ahead'?"
    The Wall Street Journal
    "…showing how quiet people can turn their innate strengths into an advantage when networking."
    ABC News
    "Best Book Gifts"
    Los Angeles Times
    "Whatever's behind your reluctance to speak out for yourself, this is the first book I've seen with serious research on the topic that leads to a new game plan."
    CIO Insight
    "Must-Read Fall Books for IT Execs"
    Star-Ledger
    "Best New Career Books"
    POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY NEWS DAILY
    "Offers a solid dose of practical advice—alongside humorous anecdotes.... Ancowitz shows introverts how to take advantage of the unique qualities and strengths they can offer."
    The Independent Consultant
    "There is great value in this book, whether you are promoting your own business or consulting practice, or just want to be sure your talents are recognized within your larger organization."
    Small Business Trends
    "Written by an introvert for introverts."
    Ft. Myers Florida Weekly
    "'Self-Promotion for Introverts' is a primer on doing just that—helping 'quiet sorts' assert themselves by using their inherent tendencies in the most effective ways."
    Women and Leadership Australia
    "Pitched perfectly. Our rating: 10/10."

Listen Your Way Up the Ladder

We all want to be heard, but a surprising number of people only half-listen. Fortunately for us introverts, we tend to spend more time listening than talking. You can use your listening skills to your advantage in job interviews, negotiations, networking, business meetings, and when selling anything to anyone.

“I remember an interview I had for a job,” says Doug Fidoten, president of Dentsu America, a full-service advertising and marketing-communications company. He shares this in my book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®: “I had already met with a number of other executives, and this was the last one. The executive I met with looked at my résumé and initially didn’t say anything. Many people would have nervously tried to fill the space. Maybe it was my introverted character, but I didn’t. Eventually, the executive asked me questions, and we started a dialogue. The next day I was told that I got the job and that I had done particularly well with this executive. Maybe it was a stroke of luck. But maybe also it was the first bit of insight into what it meant to be an active listener.”

How common is it to actually listen? “According to the International Listening Association, research studies indicate that we spend about 45 percent of our time listening, but we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful about 75 percent of that time,” says Kay Lindahl in The Sacred Art of Listening. She says that the average attention space for adults is 22 seconds. And that immediately after listening to someone talk, we usually recall only about half of what we heard. “As a manager of a large business said once, ‘I have always prepared myself to speak. But I have never prepared myself to listen,’” she adds.

“We think we listen, but we don’t,” says Nancy Kline in her book Time to Think. “We finish each other’s sentences, we interrupt each other, we moan together, we fill in the pauses with our own stories, we look at our watches, we sigh, frown, tap our finger, read the newspaper or walk away. We give advice, give advice, give advice.” Been there? She adds, “Corporate leaders can be the worst. I even knew one chief executive who worked a puzzle when someone came in to see him. It was not uncommon for him to interrupt the person with a loud ‘There!’ when he found the missing piece.”

In using the analogy of driving up a steep hill, Mark Goulston, M.D., says in his book Just Listen, “Most people upshift when they want to get through to other people. They persuade. They encourage. They argue. They push. And in the process, they create resistance.” Janet Fiorenzo, a Denver based listening coach, adds, “We miss so much by not really listening—to others and ourselves. Yet by really listening, we can access so much information that can make us more successful.” If you’re not already a gold medalist in the listening department, she offers these tips to help you listen more attentively:

  1. Take a deep breath to get centered.
  2. Clear your mind and totally give your full attention to the other individual.
  3. Be aware of any self-talk, distractions, and assumptions you may have—and try to let go of them, at least temporarily.
  4. Listen with all your senses—paying close attention to the other person’s tone and nonverbal communication.
  5. Be silent until the person is finished speaking.

Kline recommends keeping your eyes on the other party when listening. “Don’t look away unless there is a fire or you have a seriously unsavoury personal emergency,” she says.

Of course, as a practiced listener, this skill may already be in your sweet spot as an introvert. In fact, you might be wondering how to get in a word edgewise. While it might seem ironic to suggest that you interrupt right after underscoring the importance of listening, sometimes it is appropriate, and even necessary.

Michele Wucker, president of the World Policy Institute, whom I interviewed for my book, tells how she handles her live appearances on national TV as an introvert: “The hardest thing was to learn to interrupt. You’re expected to do it, and it’s entertainment. I just decided that I was going to do it. I kept trying, and then all of a sudden it happened. I really started to enjoy my debates with Pat Buchanan when I could say, ‘Wow! I got the last word in today.’”