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Susan Cain

June 9, 2016 by Speakers' Spotlight

Campaign Advice for Hillary Clinton from the World’s Most Famous Introvert

When Hillary Clinton was asked the question, “Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?” her answer might have been one of the most surprising of her campaign.  Identifying as an ambivert, or someone who demonstrates both introverted and extroverted qualities might have been the most diplomatic answer, but Susan Cain, the author of Quiet  and an expert on introversion thinks it’s a bit more complicated than that.

“We tend to swing back and forth between who we elect — or at least with who gets into the spotlight —regarding extroverts and introverts,” Cain told Heleo in a conversation last month. “With introverted candidates, you could say it’s analogous to the fine line that women candidates need to walk. There’s this very narrow channel that you need to surf between not being too aggressive over here, and not being too docile over there.”

Clinton, of course, is both a female candidate and an introvert. And it could be that gap between body language and her introversion that explains the contrast between her and the Republican front runner Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump, people are saying it’s about him being willing to be not politically correct. What people really mean deep down when they say that is he’s not filtered, and that’s what they’re appreciating. That’s the ultimate non-scriptedness.”

Amy Cuddy, author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges, has written  that people have a subconscious distrust of people who have an asymmetry between what they’re communicating through their body language and what’s coming out in their speech. The more scripted you are, the more uncomfortable you are. This impacts your body language and causes people to distrust you.

“With Hillary Clinton I think you see a little bit of a compensation of speaking up, probably with a louder voice than would really come naturally to her, and a wider smile than would come naturally to her,” Cain said. “I think when people are perceiving this so called phoniness in her, a lot of it is that.”

So what can Clinton do to steal some of Trump’s charisma?

“She’d probably be better served by owning a little bit more of who she is,” Cain suggested.