12 Most Focused Ways Introverts Can Make a Wave

12 Most Focused Ways Introverts Can Make a Wave

 
 
I’m rereading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. If you’re an introvert, make this the book you read this year! The author spent five years researching this topic.

Here are some tips Susan Cain offers that I’ve been sharing in my workshops. My introverted clients report more successes. And extroverts, please read this to understand how one-third to one-half of the world operates.

1. Ask for time to consider the options

Often the person who talks the most and is the most enthusiastic, declaring “Let’s make the decision now,” seems to be forcing everyone to go in a certain direction. BUT you can say, “I suggest we take a day (or a week) to think this over, gather some more data, consider the options and then come back and use our critical thinking to objectively see what makes sense.”

In your own experience, when can you encourage others not to make a decision right then and there?

2. Set up guidelines for how much, and when, everyone may speak

City Year has a rule in meetings: no one can speak twice until everyone speaks once. This gives each person a real chance to be heard. It sends the message that no one deserves to monopolize the conversation, giving the introverts their opportunity and forcing the extroverts to be quiet and listen.

What guidelines do you have in your meetings about how much people may speak?

3. Find a coach

If this describes you: being quiet in most meetings, trying to get out of giving a presentation and generally not participating in any team sessions you can avoid — then ask yourself this question: “Do I need to change any of my behaviors to reach my career goals?” If the answer is yes, make a plan to change.

Do you need a coach? How will you find one?

4. Embrace your “soft power”

Chances are you are quieter, humbler and more sensitive to others than are your extroverted counterparts. You also like to ask questions and sincerely listen to the responses — mulling over how the answer helps you think about a situation. You have a quiet persistence that keeps going when others have given up. Consider how you are applying these talents to your advantage.

What talents do you have that can be used as assets?

5. Engage in a certain level of “pretend-extroversion”

I am always surprised how most people label me an extrovert, but in reality I like my time alone. I can’t imagine having a party with 200 people and, when left to my own devices, I might not call anyone ever. I tell others that I have the social skills of an extrovert and I know how to network — BUT not as long and hard as an extrovert can. I can go to a networking event and do well for about an hour; then I run out of energy.

Where do you practice “pretend-extroversion?” How is that working?

6. Find other ways to connect with people

You don’t have to attend big networking events. You can volunteer for a non-profit and meet people with the same focus. I have made many wonderful friends and forged new business relationships doing pro-bono work for several non-profits. This is more satisfying for me as I love helping others.

What are ways you would enjoy connecting with others?

7. Create “restorative niches” for yourself

A restorative niche is a place to go when you need time to be your true self. I tell my clients to hide in the restroom if they need a break. Some clients tell me they go outside for a walk, book a conference room and stay there all day, work from home, put on their headset in the airplane and listen to music. Sometimes after a workshop I will walk in a park or, if one is not available, walk around a mall where I know no one.

What are your restorative niches?

8. Set your expectations for yourself

I’m an Argentine Tango dancer and used to think I should try to meet and talk to many new people at a dance. I was always exhausted from the process. Now I tell myself that if I meet one new person and have one dance with someone I’ve never danced with before, that is enough. And since I can lead a dance, when I feel tired of socializing, I lead someone around the floor. I’m much happier dancing than socializing.

What are some expectations of yourself you can change?

9. Manage your time

Some people can go out every night and feel fantastic. They love all the stimulation. Others need time to be alone, read, exercise and think about life. Monitor yourself so you don’t get so drained that you’re no longer excited about going to the company conference or out to dinner with dear friends. You need more down time than the extroverts you know —  don’t book something all the time.

Do you overbook yourself with extroverted events?

10. Look like an extrovert

You really do have to stand up straight, smile and look at people when speaking. Use expressions like, “I’m excited about this project,” or “This project is a great success, saving the company millions of dollars.” Use such emotional statements in your presentations.

Look at your presentations — where can you look like an extrovert?

11. Identify your “core personal projects”

I love to coach in small, intimate, two-day workshops for ten people. I do give speeches to audiences of 100–300, but they aren’t my favorite things to do. I much prefer creating products I believe people can use. For example, now I’m putting together an online presentation survey that presenters can have their audiences fill out. I find satisfaction in these special presentation projects.

What are your special projects that you love, and how can you do more of them?

12. Enjoy your quality relationships

Here’s my confession. I’m about to have an important birthday and my husband offered to throw me a big party. I have tried to imagine having a bash with 100 people and just feel uneasy inside. I can see a party with maybe 30 people. That feels cozy and fun, so I’m opting for the smaller gathering.

How can you maximize the quality of your relationships over their quantity?

I have been experimenting with understanding myself as having a half introverted side. I feel more empowered about making decisions in my life. I have experiences that tell me that I’m better to arrive early at a party or a network event so I feel comfortable. I know if I have a party, I don’t have to have a big extravaganza with lots of people. I’ve been better at my presentations, coaching introverts and getting them to consider how they can authentically stand up and talk to an executive group.

Consider first who you deeply are — not just the social skills you have learned. Think about what makes you deeply happy and satisfied and then make a plan to do more of that. Extroverts: you’ll probably go to more business and social events. Introverts: you may go to fewer of them but you will consider meeting authentically three people and then leaving.

Here’s to all our differences and the wonderful variety of desires and satisfactions we have in life! What are you going to continue, start or stop doing if you are an introvert? Extroverts, what are you going to do differently to make the introverts in your life more comfortable?

Featured image courtesy of Horia Varlan licensed via Creative Commons.


Claudyne Wilder

http://www.wilderpresentations.com/blog

Claudyne Wilder coaches clients to get to the message! Develop audience-focused content. Design message-oriented slides. Deliver a compelling, passionate presentation. She’s passionate about her client’s successes! She dances the Argentine Tango and frequently helps her clients gain an edge by giving them ideas on how a tango dances connects with a dance partner.

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5 comments
Tammy Vitale
Tammy Vitale

I'm an introvert, altho I'm close to the line in the Myers Briggs - I can "do" extrovert for  several hours (it wipes me out but I can do it).  I tried the book and just couldn't get into it.  I guess maybe because I don't need help with it as I've already worked it out.  In the end, it's how you refuel, it's not about how you are when you are around people, that makes you an introvert.  I know to allow time for quiet refueling.

BethBuelow
BethBuelow

Terrific piece! You pull out some great points from Susan's book. I especially like the idea of "restorative niches" and setting expectations in a realistic way. When I first started my own business, the self-imposed expectation that I would show up at networking events like everyone else, as"big" as I was perceiving them to be, just about did me in. Once I realized how to own and pace my natural energy, I became more relaxed and made more quality connections. 

The only points that make me bristle a bit: 5 and 10. When we tell introverts to "pretend-extrovert" or "look like an extrovert," it's really about having confidence. Therefore, it can appear that we're sending a message that to come across as an introvert is to lack confidence. It's reinforcing that extroversion is ideal, and introverts have to adopt a certain amount of unnatural behavior in order to be successful. Being an innie or an outtie isn't about social skills, it's about energy; so I personally advocate for building confidence and a healthy relationship with our energy from an introvert context, rather than an extroverted one.

As @christianmarieherron  mentioned, it's about "pride of ownership," which to me means making the most of our strengths, rather than trying to compensate for perceived weaknesses by being something we're not. Most of these tips do that fantastically! I also appreciate your closing question for extroverts; thoughtful awareness by all is key to our peaceful co-existence :-) Thank you for the post!


dbvickery
dbvickery

Enjoyed the post, Claudyne. I am an introvert who frequently looks like an extrovert, and it's probably because I follow several of the principles on your list.

christianmarieherron
christianmarieherron

Great article!  I love Susan Cain's book as well as her TED talk, very inspiring.   I am a proud introvert myself and am happy to see what I feel is a movement towards what Beth Buelow calls "pride of ownership" for introversion.

I too am a Coach that specializes in helping introverts build success their way.  So glad I found you!

terez07
terez07

Love your term for #7 "restorative niches!"  Being in introvert myself,  finding time in my day to be alone helps me stay focused. For instance, when I worked in an office, I would pack a lunch and eat in my car on the employee parking lot during warm spring and summer days. It really helped to keep me energized for the rest of my work day.  Thank you, Claudyne, for writing such an insightful piece!

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