Do you sometimes get anxious when speaking to a new client? Would you rather work alone and not in a team? Would you often prefer to stay at home, than attend an after work party organised by your department?
If you can answer these questions with a ‘yes’, then you are probably an introvert. But, before you start thinking that this is a negative trait, let’s look at some of the most influential people of our time who prove that you don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room to be heard.
Introverts commonly assume that they must conform to the extrovert mould in order to be successful, however, Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder and philanthropist, is reported to have strong introvert traits but still develop his passions, successfully. He said:
“I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.”
Being elected president of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces would seems to be an introvert’s worst nightmare. But even though President Obama has caught criticism for his aloof personality, he has managed to leverage an introvert’s natural capacity for thoughtful communication.
In the corporate world, with its emphasis on self-promotion and networking, many introverts feel immense pressure to act like extroverts. Such individuals may even worry that they will be overlooked for promotion, so in order to compensate, they may go to great lengths to pretend to be extroverts and often end up feeling frustrated by trying hard to be someone else.
Any introvert needs to embrace their natural strengths. He, or she, is usually quiet, thoughtful and calm – many qualities that would benefit an extrovert. They will usually like focused work and are able to concentrate for long periods at a time.
So by harnessing their personality traits, they can stay true to themselves and stand out from the crowd for who they actually are and not for who they are trying to be.
So let us look at ways that introverts can exploit the benefit of their natural abilities:
- Harness your personality traits: An introvert will usually sit quietly in a meeting and listen to everyone’s opinion before giving of their own. But, the chances are that when they give it, it will have been considered carefully and weighed up accordingly before speaking.
- Preparation: Introverts like to prepare well in advance for meetings and presentations. There can be many hidden benefits here. If you collect all the relevant ideas and facts in advance, the chances are that you will be more knowledgeable and organised.
- Show passion: Introverts are usually not good at ‘small talk’ but prefer meaningful conversations on those topics upon which they have an opinion. So it is useful for them to connect with those who share their interests and ideas.
- ‘Me’ time: Introverts prefer to work alone and don’t like interruptions. So instead of seeing this as a negative, give yourself permission to take yourself off on a quiet walk away from the office at lunch-time which will give you a good chance to recharge your batteries in an environment in which you feel comfortable.
At the end of the day, introverts need to play to their strengths and not shy away from them. Be proud of who you are. You may not be the same as those who are always seeking attention in the office, but you can bring a calmness to stressful situations and your colleagues will feel reassured and will trust you, knowing that you are able to deal with unexpected situations, calmly.
Foster your belief in yourself and the unique strengths that you bring to the table. If you truly believe in yourself, then it’s only a matter of time before others will believe in you too! So, rather than feeling that your introverted tendencies are an obstacle to success, use your natural gifts to your advantage.
- A quiet personality can be as effective as a noisy one
- If you prefer to work away from groups, then do it
- A lion is very silent when it stalks its kill