Do you consider yourself an introvert? Do you come up with your best ideas in quiet moments? Do you feel worn-out after events filled with small talk? Or, feel frustrated after meetings because you didn’t respond fast enough? If so, you might be an introvert. To learn where you fall on the introvert spectrum, you can take a quiz here.
The idea of introverts and extroverts as personality types became popular in the 1970’s, but their relevancy has been revived thanks to Susan Cain, the author of NY Times best selling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan’s work highlights how society tends to favor extroverts, especially in the world of work. This cultural bias forces many introverts to try and “pass” as extroverts in order to find success. But, introverted personalities have many gifts to bring to the table (think: J.K Rowling, Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, and Ghandi – all introverts). So, how do you succeed in a culture with an extrovert bias? MCM is here to help, with some tips for the workplace.
For an introvert, this can feel like a real chore. Approaching strangers, trying to grab attention with an elevator speech and making small talk are not an introvert’s strong suit. Try these tips before your next networking event:
1. Come up with some intriguing questions to ask others before the event. Introverts may not be fast-talkers, but they are incredible listeners. And, people tend to value this quality. Coming up with questions beforehand is great because it takes the pressure off of you, and signals to others that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say – a total win.
2. Tag-team a networking event with an extrovert. Why? Because you can rely on your teammate to work the room and make contacts, while your energy can go towards what you excel at – taking the connection to a deeper place.
Introverts can find meetings particularly painful because they process information differently than extroverts (who tend to do most of the talking). You can still show your interest without having to pass as an extrovert, here’s how.
1. Use silent cues to show you are interested in the topic, even if you aren’t saying much. Take notes; use non-verbal communication like nodding, smiling, or eye contact. This way, when you send a follow-up email post-meeting, it will confirm that you are invested in the topics.
2. Sometimes you have to speak up, so be prepared for it. Ask for an agenda before the meeting so that you can prepare, and gain attention in the room by remembering the phrase, “I’d like to say something.” Both can increase your talk time, and hence bring your important ideas to the table.
Remember, introversion is a temperament, not a curse. It can actually set you apart in positive ways from others – the key is to play up your strengths instead of shying away from them. We know you’ve got this!