On Being Quiet at Work or School

Thoughts Inspired by Introversion...


This weekend, I perused through Quiet Power by Susan Cain, and its content reminded me of a few things I've learned about being quiet, or being perceived as quiet by others: 

Being Quiet is Not a Weakness

The greater culture has many biases on extroversion and introversion. Many strengths (as well as traits associated with attention-seeking and vanity) are associated with extroversion, while being quiet or contemplative can be seen as unconfident, lazy, or arrogant. In terms of work performance, Introverts, or those who are more quiet, can be seen as:

  • Underperforming: I worked at an agency where most people don't know what you're doing unless you tell them. This can be partly cultural, and gender conditioning, among a myriad of socializing agents. Introverts tend to process details and outcomes internally, so there isn't always a big show for others to see when they're working. The world can't see all your work because it's done behind the scenes. A potential problem with being an introvert at work or school is: You can be the best at your job, and no one will know because they never saw you, or heard from you. This can also lead coworkers to rate you as less friendly, which can affect future promotions or reviews. 
  • How to remedy the stigma: "The squeaky wheel gets the oil." I did not understand the importance of sharing my accomplished tasks of the day with supervisors or colleagues until a former principal and former supervisor told me to. This inability to naturally speak on my work also comes from culture and gender roles, which I didn't know shaped some discomfort with speaking about myself. I thought a good deed and good work speaks for itself. Other people were getting accolades and promotions, when I was as good. The only difference was, I was not talking about it. Note: Sharing about your work is not bragging; it is sharing a joy in your accomplishments, and learning how to navigate an extrovert-biased world. Also, you don't have to go overboard and feel inauthentic about sharing about your day. Checking in with one sentence or two, "I completed x, y, and z today," can make a big difference in how others perceive you or your work ethic. 
  • Teachers, Parents, & Peers: Ask introverts for feedback in smaller groups, or check-in to see how they're doing. Asking them questions and giving a moment of time to form a response can help reduce anxiety or feeling rushed to answer quickly. 

Introversion is Not Depression or Being Shy

  • It's about energy. Although introverts can have depression, and can be shy, these terms are not interchangeable. Introversion is more about having a brain and nervous system that responds differently to stimulation. Introverts recharge and process more clearly in small group settings or in solitude, and extroverts tend to thrive in more stimulating environments (yes, extroverts need to recharge in solitude as well). Connection and dialogue matter to introverts, but the intensity and duration may or may not differ depending on the environment and topics being explored. 
  • Processing Times & Speaking. Sometimes small talk is difficult for an introvert to participate in. It can be very draining, especially when topics with extroverts may change quickly. By the time the introvert has compiled a suitable response to the first topic or question, the extroverts have explored twenty other things, and the introvert can't keep up. This inability to keep up can sometimes make introverts appear depressed or shy for not participating in conversations when they were trying to keep up in the first place, and couldn't. 
  • Check-in with your brain and body. Extroverts may not fully understand, but sharing how you are energized differently can start the process. Extrovert buddies still get energized by having people around; there does not need to be constant conversation to feel connected. Sitting in silence can be a compromise to explore, and if you need to be completely alone. At work, it may be important to learn a typical routine for getting overstimulated, so you can schedule appropriate breaks. 

Sharing Ideas as an Introvert

  • Many times the loudest person in the room gets praised for having good ideas. They can be seen as daring, confident, and competent, while their quieter peers may be seen as the opposite. In group settings, it can sometimes feel like a free-for-all to blurt things out until a decision is made. Internal processors don't perform as well in this type of stimulation. Thoughts tend to formulate better in calmer spaces, with time to generate a complete thought. Extroverts think "out loud" so the ramblings, and mistakes are available for the world to see. This tendency to think out loud and make mistakes can be interpreted as being fearless, when it's simply a natural way of cognition for extroverts. 
  • Pre-game for meetings or conversations. Jotting down ideas before meetings can help make sharing ideas easier. Meetings dominated by extroverts may make it difficult to pause and ask for an introvert's feedback. A sticky note, reviewing the night before, or checking in with team leaders can also promote the sharing of ideas in a way that is more comfortable for introverts.
  • Bosses, Coworkers, and Team Leaders: Please ask quieter teammates what their ideas are. It can really help promote group cohesion, and give quieter teammates a chance to offer feedback. It might take a minute to form statements, but asking quieter teammates if they want to contribute can model an acceptance of difference within the entire team. 


What are some of your thoughts or observations on introversion? Share this post with others to help promote a better understanding of introverts <3 

Additional Reading:



Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) & PTSD


Editor Information: Jennifer Yi is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has been trained by the EMDR Institute and is currently in the process of certification for EMDR.  She is in full time private practice in Irvine, CA and focuses on individuals with anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and PTSD.

Sources of this content are from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by Francine Shapiro, PhD, and EMDRIA.org. Content has been edited for organization and length.

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing- I know it’s a mouthful so don’t worry if you forget what it stands for or if you’re not even sure what it means.  It is a psychotherapy that was developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro and has been recommended as an effective treatment for trauma in the Practice Guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and DefenseSAMHSA, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the World Health Organization.


It all began in 1987, when Dr. Shapiro made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts, under certain conditions.  Dr. Shapiro studied this effect scientifically and, in 1989, she reported success using EMDR to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.  Since then, EMDR has developed and evolved through the contributions of therapists and researchers all over the world. Today, EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

What Causes Psychopathology?

Dr. Shapiro’s theory is that disturbing memories are the cause of psychopathology.  When a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms.  The body may go into fight, flight, or freeze.  In the case of the last scenario, the right and left lobes of the brain may also “freeze” and stop communicating with each other.  Therefore the memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed, stored dysfunctionally in an isolated form.  Inadequately processed disturbing memories may be the root of Depressive disorders, Anxiety disorders, Specific Phobias and PTSD.

What is PTSD?

Those who develop PTSD do so after being exposed to a traumatic event.  Due to the incorrectly stored memories, their symptoms tend to fit into 3 main categories: (1) Re-experiencing the traumatic event. This may occur through nightmares, flashbacks, reliving the event, or having a great deal of distress when in a situation like the trauma (2) Avoidance. This may occur through avoiding having particular thoughts or feelings. The person with PTSD may avoid activities or having conversations related to the trauma. He or she may feel withdrawn, disinterested, or numb to emotions. (3) Arousal. This may come in the form of feeling “on edge”, having difficulty concentrating, or sleep problems.

How EMDR Works

The goal of EMDR is to reduce the long-lasting effects of distressing memories by developing more adaptive coping mechanisms. The therapy uses an eight-phase approach that includes having the patient recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side to side eye movements.  The bilateral stimulation helps link the right and left lobes of the brain facilitating the digestion of improperly stored memories into a calmed form and integrated into the rest of the memory network.  This results in the reduction/elimination of unwanted symptoms and helps the client move forward and have improved functioning in the present and future.    

EMDR is not a form of hypnosis, the client is fully awake and aware during the session.

Several clinical trials have found EMDR to be superior to other types of treatments for posttraumatic stress. These studies have shown that EMDR worked better than other treatments such as such as biofeedback relaxation, active listening, and other forms of individual therapies. One study found an 100% elimination of PTSD in single trauma victims after participating in an average of 6 EMDR sessions. Another study found that two EMDR sessions brought posttraumatic stress scores within normal range. The one study to use a full course of EMDR treatment for combat veterans reported a 77% elimination of PTSD in 12 sessions.  

EMDR vs Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is frequently used as a PTSD treatment. In exposure therapy, the client relates his/her traumatic experience in detail for an hour in the treatment session. He or she then typically listens to an audiotape of the session as homework for an hour every day. Exposure therapy also requires homework in which the client engages in an avoided activity related to the trauma (e.g., going into Manhattan). Clients are recommended to spend an additional hour or so per day on such activities. The daily homework hours (e.g., 25-100 hours) are necessary, as PTSD improvements are related to homework completion.  Not only is the homework lengthy, many clients are unable to complete the homework due to the high level of distress it causes.  In comparison, EMDR does not require detailed descriptions of the trauma. EMDR also does not require fixed concentration on the event. It only requires in-session time for treatment. Homework in EMDR usually consists of the client writing down any problems he or she has between sessions and using a relaxation technique if needed. There have been four studies comparing EMDR and exposure therapy alone. All have reported approximately equal results on most measures. Rates of getting better ranged from 50-80% in both treatment groups, despite the differences in assigned homework. One study that made homework the same for both EMDR and Exposure treatments showed better success in EMDR participants (70%) than Exposure participants (17%).

EMDR was originally developed to treat adults with PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions such as depression, phantom limb pain, chronic pain, and various anxiety disorders.  Children have been successfully treated as well.

If you or anyone else think EMDR may be right for you, you can search for an EMDR therapist here: http://www.emdria.org/search/custom.asp?id=2337

Jennifer Yi, MS, LMFT&nbsp;

Jennifer Yi, MS, LMFT 

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child (Guest Post)



Author Information: Andre Larocque is a district level behavioral specialist consultant with a narrowed study in Oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder and Antisocial personality disorder. In addition to his education in psychology he has 8 years direct experience working in residential treatment.


Spare the rod, Spoil the Child: A Behavioral Primer for the Non-spanker.

By Andre Larocque

Edited by: Evita Sandoval


History of a Limit Tester

            All these discussions about spanking usually start with“Spanking worked for me.” In all fairness it worked for me as well. I remember being a young, quiet boy in Vermont who enjoyed the woods and building forts. I wasn't always a well behaved behaviorist however. I was a young aggressive researcher who enjoyed finding his limits with adults. I remember one aunt in particular being brave enough to babysit me at the time. I took the opportunity while she fell asleep watching soap operas to slap her as hard as I could before running outside to climb my families fir tree. At this point it was appropriate for me to internalize several existential questions. Rightly so, as she stood seething at the bottom of the tree she was correct to remind me, I would eventually have to come down and she had a long memory. Most adults do, and lets be fair now I was a child asking for a limit to be set.

Spanking as a Tool

            In the above example most people are quick to point out serious behaviors demand serious consequences, and we would be doing a disservice to our kids by demonstrating otherwise. Such an assertion would be completely correct. I got paddled when I came down from our families fir tree and most would argue my consequence was earned.

            Kids are incredibly smart. Anyone who has spent time with children knows they are a sponge for positive and negative experiences. So where does spanking fit in all this? Throughout my studies in college spanking was discussed at length. Corporal Punishment is a hot button issue in psychology. Behaviorists at the time were still catching flak for incorrectly addressing “expectations” and the role expectations play in behavioral outcomes. A good example of this criticism can be seen through spanking. When a child limit tests and they are spanked, ideally the target behavior shapes to be lower in frequency, intensity, or both. Parents understand this concept but often not in the same behavioral context. Target behaviors do shape through spanking. However, there is a dark secret in all this. The behavior only appears to shape when the spanker/enforcer is around to implement the expectation and its subsequent behavioral consequence. The authority in this case chose to buy obedience at the cost of resentment. When the authority chose to spank, behind closed doors the behavior was made worse, having been built upon resentment towards the spanking authority. The spanker doesn't know that. The babysitter, school, neighbors and police however do see that behavior that was supposedly shaped to be lower. These are the same kids that say their pleases and thank you's but then decide to pepper spray their neighbors toilet paper when no one is around. Behaviorists for the most part agree that there are very unintended negative outcomes for corporal punishment being shown in the long term for kids. These unintended consequences include higher substance abuse rates, lower grey matter in the brain and even significantly higher rates of mood disorders [1][2][3][4][5].

Behaviorism as a Tool

            Usually at this point in the spanking discussion folks lose a bit of hope. The reason why is often because it begs the question “What tools do we have to shape behavior if spanking is not ideal?” The solution is very hopeful because in the modern age we have many new rewards and many new logical consequences that technology provides us with. The most effective tools behaviorists have had for centuries are consistency, prevention and fairness. The reason why there is a disparity in power between kids and adults, is because sometimes children make poor and uninformed decisions which demands adults take charge to mitigate that risk for a time. To expand on good behavioral practices there are several things a parent can do to shape behaviors in an effective way and most of them center around the mitigation of risky or maladaptive behaviors. When a parent sees limit testing their actions and words should always be a decisive “No”. Limit testing is the clear understanding of the expectations and the subsequent disregard of them. Soft limits like negotiating, being unclear, begging for change, nagging, or providing any grey area will always result in more limit testing. This will also demonstrate that your expectations are not worthy of your child's respect. When a parent sees a child asking for, or demonstrating a need for support the response is different. When a child is uninformed and does not know the limit or its tangent expectations, a wise response would be a kind request for more information. This supportive discussion should involve the authority providing an explanation, and replacement behaviors with regard to the behavior being spoken about. If one responds to support testing with a decisive “No”, that person builds obedience at the cost of resentment. This resentment can lead one to be just as ineffective as one that chooses a soft limit. One thing I often suggest, for parents looking to “clean up” behavioral practices, is a behavioral contract in which everyone in the household signs. In the contract target behaviors and consequences are spelled out clearly without soft limits and everyone is equally responsible for adhering and enforcing that contract. Weekly house meetings to revise the family contract can be very beneficial for everyone involved. When there is a violation of the contract, it is nothing “personal”, it is simply the law as the household agreed. The antecedent to resentment does not exist in this method allowing for a positive household without all the underlying emotional cultch.

Behaviorism in Practice

            Much of being consistent is having scripts and expressing yourself and your expectations correctly and systematically every time. This prevents maladaptivity from taking root by keeping expectations fair, firm and consistent. Any soft limits, or punitive practice, will result in heightening the frequency and/or intensity of limit testing [6].

“It has been brought to my attention that you are choosing to bully kids at school. Our behavioral contract states unkindness, and disrespect, will result in a simplification of your communicative tools. You demonstrated I can't trust you behind closed doors so we also need to simplify privacy as well. The wifi is being turned off, your cell phone service is being turned off and your door is being taken of its hinges and is coming with me for a week. Once you are able to communicate respectfully and kindly we will discuss regaining the privileges that trust would afford you.”

“You are not showing you have control over your body right now. As per our behavioral contract that means you need to take a break, I need you to take a timeout in that chair until you can show me a calm face and a calm body.”

“I would love to take you to the store, but you tantrumed in public to get what you want. Our behavioral contract states I need to trust you will make good social decisions in public or I can't take you with me. You showed me that you need to take a break from going anywhere until I know you will make good social decisions. Maybe you can regain this privilege by showing me better ways in asking for what you want and accepting when I tell you no.”



[1] Gershoff, Elizabeth T. (Spring 2010). "More Harm Than Good: A Summary of Scientific Research on the Intended and Unintended Effects of Corporal Punishment on Children". Law & Contemporary Problems (Duke University School of Law) 73 (2): 31–56. Retrieved 23 December 2015.

[2] Durrant, Joan; Ensom, Ron (4 September 2012). "Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research".Canadian Medical Association Journal 184 (12): 1373–1377. doi:10.1503/cmaj.101314. PMC 3447048. PMID 22311946. Retrieved 23 December 2015.

[3] Ateah C.A., Secco M.L., Woodgate R.L. (2003). "The risks and alternatives to physical punishment use with children". J Pediatr Health Care 17 (3): 126–32. doi:10.1067/mph.2003.18. PMID 12734459Retrieved 23 December 2015.

[4] Tomoda, A.; Suzuki, H.; Rabi, K.; Sheu, Y.S.; Polcari, A.; Teicher, M.H. (2009). "Reduced prefrontal cortical gray matter volume in young adults exposed to harsh corporal punishment".Neuroimage. 47(Suppl 2):T66-71.doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.03.005 PMID 19285558

[5] MacMillan H.L., Boyle M.H., Wong M.Y., Duku E.K., Fleming J.E., Walsh C.A. (October 1999)."Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample".Canadian Medical Association Journal 161(7): 805–9. PMC 1230651. PMID 10530296.

[6]  Mackenzie R.J (2011) “Setting limits with your strong willed child” Retrieved 23 December 2015.