William Smith Associate Dean Lisa Kaenzig recently appeared as a guest expert on the BBC podcast “The Why Factor” to discuss her extensive research on introverted personality types. Featured throughout the podcast, Kaenzig offers her perspective on the ways in which people with introverted personalities function in work, school and social settings.
“I’m really a raging extrovert,” she admits. “I think I’m one of the only researchers that I know who is looking at introverts and the ways in which they cope in the world and the strategies that they use to be successful, who identifies as an extrovert.”
Though she comments that her research at times makes her feel “like…a bit of an anthropologist looking at another culture that’s very different from the way I think,” Kaenzig delivers a thorough understanding of the introverted vantage point. Her reflection is interwoven with testimony of introverted students, academics and even comedic personalities.
Hosted by Anu Anand, the episode focuses on strategies to make introverted people feel comfortable, welcome and able to contribute to group settings. For Kaenzig, recognizing the worth of introverted thinking is a major part of constructing an inclusive environment.
“Some of our most creative problem-solvers over time have been introverts,” Kaenzig reminds her audience, citing the work of J.K. Rowling, Rosa Parks and Barack Obama. “I think there was a time in our history when we had a lot of reward for people who are thinkers. Philosophers, writers, creators and discoverers were valued. Those tend to be skills that introverts have in spades because they’re willing to do a lot of research and a lot of thinking….”
Kaenzig is the co-author of the Fall 1999 article, “Introversion: The often forgotten factor affecting the gifted,” which is frequently cited as one of the earliest published articles on this now popular topic. Her article is referenced in the best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
Kaenzig earned a B.A. in political science from Rutgers University, her M.A. in human resource development from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in educational policy, planning and leadership (with a concentration in gifted education) from the College of William and Mary.
She has served as a dean at HWS since 2003, serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Planning committee, founded the HWS First Generation Initiative, and has worked with the Centennial Center for Leadership on several initiatives. Since 2015 she has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Public Leadership Education Network.
The full episode may be downloaded on “The Why Factor” website.