The Introvert
Lawyers Assistance Program
Facilitated by Robert Bircher
The Introvert Advantage
• This workshop is based on the book by
Marti Olsen Laney published in 2002 by
Workman Publishing
• Few people are extreme introverts or
extreme introverts, most of us are
somewhere close to the middle of a
• Also these are personality temperaments
and people can and do bounce around in
between them-although the tests will
show your particular tendency
• The purpose of this workshop is to
increase self acceptance of your
introversion or extroversion, not to
change anything
There is nothing wrong with
you –you’re just introverted
• ¾ of the general population is
extroverted, whereas 2/3 of lawyers are
• Ever wonder why you feel overwhelmed
in situations where others feel
• Two of my best friends are very
extroverted and since I am very
introverted the contrast in some
situations is remarkable
• One friend absolutely loves crowds-the
larger and noisier the better-he and I go
to the PNE and I can only handle it for
about an hour and a half, he gets more
energized the longer we stay. If we stay
too long, I need to recover by being in a
quiet place!
Our culture values and
rewards extroverts
• In North America we value action,
speed, competition and drive.
• Quietness, reflection and solitude are not
• Some people even think introversion is
some kind of a problem to be overcomesome studies even claim to say
extroverts are happier! They are based
on the ridiculous assumption that the
characteristics of extroverts are the
“right” way to be. This is pure nonsense!
• Because most people are extroverts,
there is always pressure to “shape up
and act like the rest of us” this starts
even as small children
Introversion is Great
• It is time to stop trying to fit in and start
embracing who you are
• Introversion and extroversion are part of
a continuum of temperament styles-few
people are at the extreme ends of either
style and it important to know that you
can jump back and forth to the other
• I am introverted but often called upon to
do “extroverted things” like teaching,
which I do often and have had great
success with
• A good way to look at it is to imagine an
energy scale with introversion and
extroversion at opposite ends
How do you get
• People who are more introverted focus
inward to gain energy, extroverts focus
outward to gain energy
• This fundamental difference explains the
differences in behavior
• Introverts need to be alone to recharge and
need breaks from too much activity
• Introverted parents will need more breaks
from their children, and more alone time
from their spouses.
• The world is geared towards extroverts and
so are many of the worlds expectations of
what lawyers should be like-if you are an
introvert in an extrovert world you may feel
out of place
• Actually there is no problem at all-being
introverted is just fine!
Qualities of Extroverts
• Like to be in the thick of things
• Relish variety, bored with sameness
• Know lots of people, consider them
• Enjoy chitchatting, even with
• Feel stoked after activity, eager for
• Speak or act without needing to
think first
• Are generally quite peppy
• Tend to talk more than listen
Qualities of Introverts
• Prefer to relax alone or with a few
close friends
• Consider only deep relationships as
• Need rest after outside activities,
even ones you enjoy
• Often listen but talk a lot about
topics of importance to you
• Appear calm, self –contained, and
like to observe
• Tend to think before you speak or
• Experience mind going blank in
groups or under pressure
• Don't like feeling rushed
Misconceptions about
• Introverts need private space to refuel, do
not gain energy from external activities, and
take time to reflect and think before they
• They are not loners, shy or antisocial-this is
a misconception
• They are not reclusive or retiring-many
public personalities are introverts
• Shyness is social anxiety and can occur in
both introverts and extrovert
• “Highly Sensitive” is usually a criticism in
a law firm but in fact means a person is
extremely perceptive, intuitive, observant
with a fine sense of discrimination-this can
occur in both introverts and extroverts
More Misconceptions
• Introverts may seem unsocial to
extroverts, but are in fact social in a
different way
• Introverts need fewer relationships, but
like more connection and intimacy.
Extroverts need more external
stimulation since they don’t generate as
much internal stimulation as introverts
• Introverts don’t generally like idle chit
chat, and since it takes a lot of energy,
they prefer more meaty conversations
which nourish and energize them
• Extroverts get a stimulation hit from
social sources and activities
Introverts unsettle
• The qualities of extroverts are a cultural
ideal-boldness, individuality and
willingness to speak out are highly
• Introverts tend to:
• Keep energy inside; be absorbed in
thought; hesitate before speaking; avoid
crowds and seek quiet; proceed with
caution when meeting people; not offer
ideas unless asked, need significant time
alone or undisturbed, reflect and act in a
careful way; tend not to show emotion
• Extroverts may see some or all of this as
weird or even believe it is evidence of
mental illness!
Problems in Understanding
Each Other
• Extroverts talk and think at the same
time-it is effortless to them
• Introverts need time to think and don’t
speak with spontaneity unless it is a
familiar subject
• Introverts appear cautious or passive to
• To an extrovert, introverts seem reticent
and seem to be hiding or hesitating. An
extrovert thinks “just spit it out!”
• Introverts will speak out a lot if they feel
they know a lot about the subject
• To an introvert an extrovert “talks
without thinking or speaks with great
authority on subjects they know almost
nothing about”
Culture and Introversion
• Our language shows our cultural bias
towards extroversion being the “right way
to be”
• For example; the International Dictionary
of Psychology states that introversion is "a
major personality trait characterized by a
preoccupation with the self, lack of
sociability and passiveness” Other
definitions are similar
• The same dictionary defines extroversion as
“a tendency to direct the personality
outward, the extrovert is social, a man of
action, and one whose motives are
conditioned by external events”
• The implication is clear-there is something
wrong with being introverted
Introverts and Extroverts
• Introverts tend to speak slowly and are reluctant
to speak with extroverts
• Introverts dislike interrupting, so they often hold
• Introverts give no hint of mental processes and
thus may appear to be passive or uninterested-in
fact they are usually just thinking about what
people are saying
• Extroverts can astonish introverts with their
ability to talk with apparent authority on almost
any topic-a friend of mine(a hairdresser ,who
dropped out high school, once talked to a group of
heart surgeons at a social event, with rock solid
conviction and authority, about her views on
holistic ways to deal with heart problems-her
main source was a couple of magazine articles in
the National Enquirer-amazingly ,they listened!)-I
was shocked
Introverts and Extroverts
• It drives extroverts crazy when introverts
suggest they stop reacting and reflecting
before barging ahead. They want them to
slow down, plan, think about consequences,
and think it through before acting.
Extroverts just want to “get it done, fast”
• In a world dominated by extroverts, most
introverted children grow up receiving the
message overtly and covertly that
something is wrong with them. Few people
grew up with families who accepted and
nurtured introverted qualities
• The culture promotes extroversion as an
ideal, even convincing introverts
themselves that they not only have a
problem ,they are a problem!
Blame, Shame and
• Because of the fact that that extroversion is held
to be “normal”, introverts can experience guilt or
shame for just being Themselves!
• Shame is related to our being, we may feel
unworthy or innately flawed. Guilt is the feeling
of having done something wrong
• The more introverted you are the more likely you
are to have encountered shame and guilt about
who you are
• You can counteract this by self acceptance;
realizing there is no problem, also by setting
tough boundaries in situations or with people. For
example safeguarding your alone time in
relationships or saying no to excessive external
Lawyers and Introversion
• As a counselor of lawyers I have come
across many situations where lawyers
think there is something wrong with
them because they don't like “marketing
or schmoozing with clients” or they have
a problem promoting themselves
• Many lawyers also have problems with
court appearances or media scrums
• Many lawyers feel they “shouldn’t feel
sensitive or shy”
• Many lawyers are told they need to
“toughen up”
• When you understand introversion and
the pathologizing of it-this should
should be no surprise
Lawyers and Introversion
• Lawyers that criticize themselves for
their introverted qualities are
• Introversion is a type of
temperament. It is not the same as
shyness or having a withdrawn
personality(both of which are
treatable, and may be caused by
poor parenting)
• Your introversion is not something
you can change, but since it is not a
problem in the first place, that is ok.
The trick is to work with it-not make
a problem out of it.
An Introvert in an
Extrovert World
• There are many advantages to being an
introverted lawyer.
• Most lawyers are introverts.60% of
intellectually gifted people are introverts.
Law requires a lot of quiet research, focus
and reflection-these are introvert strengths.
• The problem is; one third of your fellow
lawyers are extroverts and most of your
clients will be-so you need to understand
yourself and them to get along and to
minimize problems
• Introverts like to keep to themselves.
Extroverts love to meet and greet, they are
on top of the firm grapevine and love
socializing. They are natural self promoters
and networkers. Obviously this is very
Introverts at Work
Like quiet for concentration
Know more than they reveal
Can seem quiet and aloof
Will need to be asked for their opinion
Like to work on long complex problems
Have great attention to detail
Need to understand why they are doing something
Dislike intrusions and interruptions
Need to think and reflect before acting
Work alone happily
Prefer to stay in office rather than socialize
Do not like to draw attention to themselves
Work well without supervision
Have trouble remembering names
Introvert Advantages in
• There is a reason most lawyers are introverts
• Quiet, focused ,deep thinking is a required skill in
• Going into great depth in matters is very valuable
• Lawyers need to know a lot about a specific issue
and get up to speed in depth
• Generally, marketing and sales have not been as
important as great competence in law
• The way you make money in law is not by trying
or doing new things-you make money by doing
essentially the same thing over and over; quickly
and efficiently
• You may lose money in your first
PI/criminal/commercial deal/matrimonial-case but
you will make money on your 20th case
• Quiet repetition and focus is how you make
money in law-core introvert skills
Extroverts at Work
• Network and socialize easily
• Are on top of firm “grapevine”
• Enjoy phone calls and like
interruptions as a welcome diversion
• Are impatient if work is boring or
• Develop ideas through interaction
and discussion
• Good at marketing
• Like to move around a lot
• Talk and think at the same time
• Like verbal jousting
• Appreciate and enjoy attention
News Flash: Introverts
can do Extrovert Things!
• As you can see, some of the things
extroverts do are necessary for success
in law-because it is not natural doesn’t
mean you can’t do it or that you
shouldn't do it
• Introversion is not a problem to
overcome, but you can and must do
some of the things extroverts find
easy(extroverts have their own set of
problems to overcome)
• You will need to speak up and speak out
at meetings
• You need to learn to blow your own
• You need to do things faster
Introverts and Meetings
• Introverts tend not to speak up much
at meetings for various reasons-they
spend a lot of energy listening; they
get deep in thought about what is
being said, they are absorbing new
information and need time to
process it
• Fake it till you make it introvert
ideas-say hello to people as you
enter goodbye when you leave, don't
schedule too many meetings in a
day, say something early on to
establish a presence.
• When teaching I over-prepare so I
can relax during the class
Introverts and Self
• Most lawyers, even the extroverts, don’t
promote themselves. Introverted lawyers
are particularly bad at this
• Introverts guard their own personal
thoughts like a junkyard dog. Promoting
violates this inner territory
• Introverts underestimate what they
know. they take their rich emotional,
intellectual and imaginative lives for
granted. They often believe no one
would be interested in what they know
• They also dislike being the center of
• This can appear remote or uncooperative
to extroverts
Introverts Unite-Promote
• Let others know what you are
doing-don’t assume they (the
extroverts)know your contribution
• Let your boss know what work or
projects you prefer
• Accept compliments and
acknowledge yourselfcompliment others
Slow Down-You move
Too Fast
• Introverts move at a slower pace than
extroverts-this can appear aloof or
uninterested to extroverts
• Introverts need to conserve energy or they
will feel exhausted and burnt out-they need
a lot of time to process
• Extroverts can see this as being uninvolved
or even incompetent
• Introverts speak slowly and take pauses,
because they are deep thinkers and they
value being precise-this drives extroverts
• Introverts don’t tend to share their thinking
process which causes misunderstandings.
Also, they value the opinions of others but
this openness to other points of view can
appear to be a lack of conviction
Introvert Advantages
• What do introverts bring to the party?
• 60% of all gifted people are introverts,
despite being a minority of the population
• Introverts bring
, for sight, and a wide range of knowledge
• Introverts go about their day quietly
improving the workplace
• They can make tough decisions and give
coworkers their space-they don’t need close
• They are considerate and want cooperation
• They are good teachers and good listeners

The Introvert Advantage - Lawyers Assistance Program of British