who could sell not only their company’s latest gizmo but also themselves."
QUIET: The Power of Introverts in an World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain
charisma. The angle being: are American's voting for our presidential candidates based on their charming smile and twinkling eyes, rather than the substance of what they're saying, what they stand for?
They make a fair argument that we are. And sadly, I'd agree.
I think, as a country, we are suckers for a good salesman. Someone who can make us feel at ease, make us feel good about ourselves and our situation (or at least make us feel that we can trust them to improve our situation). And even if we all don't want to be the salesmen ourselves, we do want people to like us - and more and more, that's starting to mean having this charismatic type of personality that we've come to covet. There are even people who've built an object called a sociometer which can, supposedly, measure your degree of charisma. Seems a bit obsessive to me.
Are we - as a culture - choosing to elect our government officials, our employees, even our friends based solely on this idea of charisma? And is it just America doing this? Or the world over?
In Susan Cain's exploration of Quiet, she quotes a highly successful venture capitalist who seems to have this same concern:
“I worry that there are people who are put in position of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas… It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent… we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.”This is something that makes me stop and think. Have I done this? Have I, personally, hired co-workers who I thought would be outgoing and friendly over applicants who were just as qualified but perhaps a bit more reserved? Have I always based my opinions of politicians on what they say and what they stand for - or have I been swayed by how they say it and how they present themselves while saying it?
For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Susan Cain's QUIET to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.