It’s an age old clash of extroverts vs. introverts. The talkers vs. the listeners. Those who relish the spotlight and those who relish time to contemplate. I was reminded of this recently while reading a Time magazine article on introverts and shyness. For those, like me, who view themselves as having more introverted than extroverted characteristics being able to navigate the corporate extroverts can be very tricky.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily equate to being shy. I wouldn’t have lasted over 20 years in advertising by being shy nor would I have been able to launch my own executive coaching practice. But I can find myself at odds within a room of my extroverted peers. First of all, extroverts will speak first and think later. Second, they will talk over each other without listening. Third, they are most likely to wear their emotions on their sleeve.
As an introvert, I like to think first and organize my thoughts before speaking. I believe it is important to listen when people speak to better understand all viewpoints. I definitely keep my emotions in check and not put them on display. By doing so, I perceive myself as being thoughtful and considerate. To extroverts, I was viewed as being quiet, risk averse and not passionate about the work. Often I found myself on the defensive when I would hear these comments as they were deemed barriers to future success. Little did I know that this is the constant struggle for other introverts, especially for those in business.
In an effort to help my fellow introverts in the workplace. Here are three tips to employ during a meeting.
- Go with your gut. Speak up sooner rather than later, especially if you are the subject matter expert. For many introverts, you have a perspective but wait until you’ve heard what others have to say, gather more facts and then you speak. By then, it may be too late. It’s either all been said, you run out of time or someone else (an extrovert) hijack the meeting.
- Let your emotions loose especially on topics you really care about. While it would be too taxing to expend your emotional energy all the time. Done when appropriate and to punctuate your stance will make others stand up and take note that you mean business.
- Tell an extrovert to pipe down and let yourself and others speak. Sometimes you have to wrestle control of a meeting, especially if it’s your meeting and your area of expertise. You’ll gain the respect of the extrovert and others in the room.
I’ve come to appreciate all the amazing aspects of being an introvert. I also know that it’s important for me to have a voice and presence among my extroverted peers. I hope you find this helpful and want to hear what you think.
I like the article, but I want to know “how.” It’s not enough to just say “be” you have to say “how” and give examples, too. I always leave self-help articles with a feeling of okay, so you told me to “stop being Y and be X” but you never said how to be X, so now what do I do?
Neldis, thanks for your comment and I will work more examples into future posts. Peter