Sorry, did you mean Passion?

November 27, 2014 | By Georgie Carpenter

Passion. A once wonderful word that for me conjures the colour Red, a slight frenzy and quickening, a joyous yelp, a fuzzy orange tinged landscape of vivid light and movement.

But Passion and me are falling out lately. For some time now I’ve had to adjust my understanding of the word in the employment market and substitute it for what people (Hiring Managers) really seem to mean: Extrovert.

I find it a poor substitute.

I’ve been briefed to find ‘passionate people’, ‘people who are passionate’, ‘somebody with an obvious passion’, and I’m starting to find these terms terrifyingly misplaced. I’ve witnessed first hand Hiring Managers who have passed over a candidate who in interview was quiet, considered, a little awkward but whom, with a little interview expertise, could be nudged to reveal a little brilliance, in favour of the typical ‘passionate’ extrovert. They seemed ‘on’, they stroked an ego a little bit more expertly, talked loudly and with irresistible humour, but does that necessarily mean they had the right passion stuff? Not every time people!

I believe that generally companies are built upon a basic premise of delivering something that people want, in a reasonable manner, in order to make some money. Generally. But workers aren’t perceived in the same way, are they? We don’t want people who just deliver what people want, we don’t just want it in a reasonable way, we don’t just want to make some money. They have to do all those things AND be seen doing it don’t they? And guess who gets seen first? The Extrovert. Sucks to be an Introvert right now.

In general, Introverts can be described as people who draw energy from themselves, and Extroverts draw energy from others around them. Both highly useful in the workplace. And please don’t think that I disdain the Extrovert. On the contrary, extroversion and me are great pals.

I just wonder why the workplace system seems to favour the Extrovert. From open plan offices, to decision by consensus, to cultural fit so often being mistaken for actively social, to being able to manage perception as being great at your job.

Is the Extrovert more passionate than the Introvert? No, not necessarily. And if I were to be completely honest with myself, I’d say mostly no. Are they better at all the jobs? I don’t think so. Ask the design community. Ask the tech community. I know it’s not entirely helpful to say that the entire design and tech community are introverts or extroverts, but clearly some are and some aren’t. SO CAN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY, OFFICE PLANNERS, HR MANAGERS, PLEASE START ACCOMODATING FOR THE FACT THAT INTROVERTS EXIST?!

Meaningful passion about anything worth being passionate about just isn’t as loud, entertaining or ego driven as you’d expect it to be. It’s subtle, and when you glimpse it, it’s a gift. Something really worth your time and it reveals itself in stages.

When next I receive a brief for a ‘Passionate’ Individual – I sincerely hope you are meaning what you are saying.

Photo courtesy of Resume Templates