Recently I read an article in Glamour magazine called ‘Why being called ‘quiet’ is your secret superpower’. This was a refreshing read. Throughout my career in advertising and marketing I’ve been praised for being diligent, conscientious and committed, but there’s been a recurring theme to my developmental feedback.
‘You should speak up more’ – ‘Don’t be afraid to share your ideas’ – ‘Make your voice heard’ – ‘Be more confident’
In my twenties I took this to heart – I really thought I did need to be louder, that I was weak if I didn’t speak up in a meeting. But it just wasn’t in my personality to be the loudest person in the room and, working for a big advertising agency in London, I was made to feel like this was a huge personality flaw.
As I hit my early thirties and received this same feedback in a recent review (come on guys, getting boring now…) instead of making me feel rubbish about myself it made me, well, angry. Because – I am more than happy with who I am. I like how I conduct myself. I am confident. I have opinions and I have no qualms with sharing them. I am not scared to speak up. I am not intimidated. I am not weak. I am considered. I am professional. I am a thinker. When I speak up, it’s because I believe what I am saying. I have thought about it. I am not filling the space. I’m not trying to be a Billy Big Balls.
An interesting stat in the article suggested research had found that charismatic CEOs were on average paid more, but did not deliver better results because of this personality trait. So it looks like we’re buying into the hype and we need to challenge these perceptions.
At the end of the day it takes all types to make a successful team – whether that’s in a professional or social setting. We all have our own personality traits and styles, the trick is not to try and change people but to see them for who they are and what they can add.
So what I’m saying is – it’s ok to be quiet. Keep that air of mystery. Be your own person. Don’t buy into the bullshit. Just do you.