Introvert Bias During a Hot Political Time

by Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D.

The image of introverts in politics is still so off base. Take views of Obama for example. He is a known introvert. His lower key temperament, passion for privacy, preference for focused conversation and considered comments all support this personality preference.

Now that candidate Obama is under an enhanced microscope, critics are using the term introvert without a clear understanding of what it means. Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Beast brought to light an off base comment by political writer John Heileman who said about President Obama

“I don’t think he doesn’t like people. I know he doesn’t like people. He’s not an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’ve known the guy since 1988. He’s not someone who has a wide circle of friends. He’s not a backslapper and he’s not an arm-twister. He’s a more or less solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative capacities. He’s incredibly intelligent, but he’s not a guy who’s ever had a Bill Clinton-like network around him. He’s not the guy up late at night working the speed dial calling mayors, calling governors, calling CEOs.”

Okay – most of the description sounds like it makes sense based on Heileman’s proximity to Obama.  But come on. Liking people? There is NO evidence that introverts don’t like people. The introvert tendency to keep feelings to themselves can create misunderstandings and a perception gap. What they intend to show is not what is seen. I think this assumption about President Obama is a clear case of the perception gap at work.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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