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Much ado about whales, Kylie the dolphin and introverts

I’ve rarely been so excited to write a blog. That’s because I have two amazing things to share with you this month. One’s a book and one’s a sound.

I’ve recently been lucky enough to go whale watching, to be in the right place at the right time to see an extraordinary number of humpbacks. Unforgettable images of flukes and fins and breaching but also a haunting and eerie sound. Via a hydrophone sent deep into the water we were able to hear a cacophony of whale song from a 3km radius.

Here it is – https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=y7YVfU1S-jg

I hope you find it as mesmerising as I do. But I also find it troubling. How can it be that we still have so little understanding of why they sing or what they are communicating?

Similarly, you may be following the story of Kylie the lone dolphin in the Firth of Clyde who seems to be altering the frequency of his clicking to communicate with porpoises (learning their language). If verified, it will be the first time this has ever been observed.

What other hidden communication marvels are yet to be discovered beneath the ocean waves, or perhaps in the office next to you?

Susan Cain has written an extraordinary book – Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking https://www.waterstones.com/book/quiet/susan-cain/9780141029191

It has quite simply changed the way I look at the world and the people around me (as well as myself). It’s going to alter the way I run my training courses; the way I bring up my daughter and the way I work with individuals who can’t seem to be heard in their corporate world. But, especially, the way I work with young people.

The fundamental objective of the book is to give us a sense of entitlement to be ourselves, and to challenge society’s love affair with extroverts (I happen to be exactly half way on the introvert/extrovert spectrum).

Cain reminds us that Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Wozniak, Isaac Newton, Einstein, Spielberg and JK Rowling are/were introverts. No under-achievers on that list!

On the subject of communication, Cain and I are of one voice in believing that content is more important than performance (even for extroverts). There is zero correlation between gift of the gab and good ideas. We also agree that quiet people can learn to share their ideas powerfully without trying to copy extroverts. This is about honouring your individual style, being authentic. Interesting to note also that quiet people:

• Can be brilliant leaders, effective sales people and excellent negotiators
• Can be impactful public speakers, if they care about the subject. Their natural instinct to be thorough and well prepared is a real asset
• Can enjoy and be good at networking and small talk if they are given ‘permission’ to have real conversations rather than talking about the weather.

We may never comprehend whale song but we do have an opportunity to better understand the 30% to 50% of us who are introverts, and to value their contribution to our team/company/family/life. Because, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”.