What Is Introvert-Friendly Learning?
Reflections for Coaches, Conference
Organizers, Seminar Leaders
by Marcia Yudkin
Recently on the ABC TV
show "Shark Tank," on which entrepreneurs
pitch their businesses to a panel of
multi-million-dollar investors, there was a
scene of gratuitous cruelty that lived up to
the "shark" metaphor in the show's title.
(If you're British or
Australian, you may be familiar with the
show "Dragon's Den" on which the American
show was modeled.)
A woman whose pitch did
not fly with the investors and who was
visibly upset about having failed offered a
strained smile and said "Thank you" before
turning to take her leave.
"Don't say 'Thank you,'"
admonished one of the investors, a man whose
motto is that nothing counts except money.
He argued that she certainly didn't feel
grateful and shouldn't say it. Two of the
other panelists stuck up for the woman as
being appropriately polite, but the man
insisted that thanking the ones who had all
turned her down was wrong.
The contestant couldn't
manage any words in reply. It seemed to me
that she found his attitude revolting, but
she was much too well brought up to disagree
with him or insult him back. And in the
man's expression I saw self-righteousness,
superiority and an egotistical pleasure in
seeing her squirm. I know he felt he was
teaching her a lesson, but it was vicious
and power-hungry of him to use that tone in
Introverts are especially
sensitive about being put down in public,
and particularly so when the criticism has
nothing to do with the official purpose of
the occasion. Losing is not fun for anyone,
but to have to deal with mockery of one's
appearance or background or manners on top
of that is unbearable to an introvert,
because we need time to process an attack
that comes out of left field. Only much
later can we think of an eloquent retort
that would have exposed the attacker as
being in the wrong.
This incident got me
thinking about learning environments that
are not safe or productive for introverts.
More than 30 years ago, I experienced
humiliation like the Shark Tank contestant's
at a prestigious writer's conference. In
front of 100 other writers, an award-winning
nonfiction writer asked me to come up front
and read the first page of my
novel-in-progress. After I did so, he
belittled my writing skill, disparaged the
intent of my story and told all the others
in the room that he saw no redeeming
qualities in what I had done.
Years later, when I was
able to look back at this incident apart
from the torrent of tears it brought on, I
concluded that no valid educational points
were made to me and no learning about
writing took place in me or anybody else
that day. As with the Shark Tank exchange,
the so-called expert and some listeners in
the room expressed superiority, but not in
terms that showed me how to improve.
There's an echo of this
atmosphere in the "hot seats" at some
marketing conferences, where an aspiring
entrepreneur describes what he or she wants
to achieve and what he or she has done to
try to get there. The reigning experts then
comment. When the experts play to the peanut
gallery, show off their knowledge or shake
their heads disparagingly without explaining
the principles underlying their scorn, they
are not helping the one in the hot seat to
What kind of seminar or
conference is conducive to learning for
Steps have been taken to
make the setting less intimidating for
participants. For example, the expert sits
or walks around at the same level as
participants, rather than on stage or in a
Learn to Present
Teleseminars Comfortably and
My online course, Teleteach for
Profit, gives you the straight
scoop on what you should and shouldn't do in your teleseminar program and why.
As a novice, you'll go from feeling nervous about leading an audio session to using teleseminars
confidently for generating prospective customers or as a profit center in
Teleteach for Profit Course
Criticism is couched not
in absolute, take-it-or-leave-it
pronouncements but in terms of options,
experiences and "If you want to do X, then Y
is a good way to get there."
Use these guidelines to
design a learning environment that's
comfortable for introverts, and chances are,
extroverts will appreciate it also. Your
reward: long-term allegiance from those who
thrive with your instruction and guidance!
Your marketing mentor,
P.S. If you're an introvert and could use
intensive feedback and guidance on your
branding, web site, marketing strategy or a
publication project, come work with me
one-on-one next spring on Maui. Your retreat is
structured so you have ample time to relax on
the beach and tour the island, too - and most
likely, your whole trip is tax deductible.
Maui private marketing retreat.
And be sure to download the free
Marketing for Introverts Manifesto!
Online Courses That May Interest You
Personal Branding for Introverts
Create a Practical Marketing Plan
Launch Your Information Empire
The Mighty Postcard Marketing Course