Speak up. Be seen. Contribute. We live in a world where we are all expected to speak and be social. I recently worked with a couple of clients who are introverts. We worked on communication skills that would work in the world of extroverts. I am an extrovert myself and have never had any problem talking to people and passionately at that. And that set me thinking. We live in a world of extroverts and no one gives a thought to people who aren’t naturally talkative and social. But it is proven that introverts can take the world by storm just as well as extroverts can! Read on to know how:
First of all, being introvert doesn’t make you destined to fail. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and J. K. Rowling have proved that introversion doesn’t stand in the way of success. Popular perception that extroverts are more people’s people and hence considered for promotions has skewed it for the people who choose to be unobtrusive.
The extroversion-introversion scale
Secondly, we are all at different points in the extroversion-introversion scale. No one is just one or the other – we all like our quiet moments even if we are extroverts and the other way round. Take this quiz called the Quiet Revolution Personality Quiz – from the Quiet Revolution started by Susan Cain, the spokesperson for the quiet community since 2012! Getting to know the kind of person you are can help you shape your communication style that suits you the best instead of giving into the extroversion hype.
Susan Cain and her Quiet Revolution
In fact, it’s a surprise how little we know about and endorse introverts like anyone else. Susan Cain’s path breaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cant Stop Talking (Buy on Amazon), released in 2012, opened dialogue about this important topic across the world. As someone who grappled with introversion herself, she has an insider view to introversion.
Her TED talk later that year – the power of introverts – sums up her experiences and research in the area. She says that people treat reticent people as “outliers” or “problem cases” although a third of the world is introvert. She cites examples like Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi who have proven that the reserved can be just as great with people. And yet, being obtrusive can can throw you out of the race for leadership roles in the corporate world. Another study from Observer bolsters this claim. The quiet are highly under-represented at the senior levels – dropping from 12% at the supervisory level to a mere 2% at senior levels. This is staggering considering the fact that about 50% of the workforce consists of introverts. She ends her talk by urging to “stop the madness for constant group work”. Susan continues to champion the cause of introverts through the Quiet Revolution that she started in 2015.
How are introverts better?
Now that we know that introversion isn’t a malady and the world is rapidly moving towards accepting it, here is some good news. People sitting quietly in meetings have an edge over the ones out there making their presence obvious. Marti Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage, says “Introverts are thoughtful, imaginative, tend to work independently and think outside the box”.
Here are a few more advantages of being an introvert:
– Introverts are more prudent since they don’t jump to action
– They learn better through listening because they are in no hurry to respond
– They demonstrate humility
– They are comfortable working alone with minimal supervision
– They have the power of being observant
How to be successful as an introvert?
But then how do we let the world know that you are so great at work even as a reserved person? A few tips:
1. Get your place in the introversion scale right: Understand where you stand in the introversion-extroversion scale. Self awareness will help you project yourself accordingly rather than trying to fit in.
2. Be confident in who you are: This is the key. Being self conscious is only going to make matters worse. The world is a more aware place now. And your confidence will help you if you are leaning more towards the introvert spectrum.
3. Work on your communication skills: Even if you hate addressing large numbers or want to hide under your desk as you see people approaching you, communication skills is a big part of succeeding in any career. Find your communication comfort zone and work around it.
4. Ask questions – You don’t need to do all the talking. Asking insightful questions – a strength with introverts – should keep the conversations going. You can sum it up in the end or include in your report, as required.
5. Find one-to-one communication opportunities with your team: This will ensure that you don’t have to address teams all the time. One-to-one can also be more successful since the focus is on team members without wasting everyone’s time on too many meetings.
6. Recharge with time alone: Like extroverts feel refreshed when they spend time with other people, introverts need to go on their “solo flights of thought” – as Cain puts it. Withdraw from time to time from the public eye to gather your thoughts and energies to face the noisy world again.
I also went to Twitter and posed this question – how does an introvert succeed in a noisy world? Gautam Ghosh, the renowned HR blogger and consultant at VBeyond Corporation, whose HR blog on talent and social business is among the top 100 brilliant HR blogs of 2017, says,
“Choose a profession where people interaction is not critical to success. Schedule time away from work to energise yourself with solitude”
Milind Kher, an educationist by profession and the CEO of Hospitality Quorum suggests,
“Be very observant. Frame your responses based on the verbal as well as non verbal communication you receive. That is the strength of an introvert. It will make a good impression.”
Ankita Dhawan, a lifestyle blogger and a part of Digital Marketing at Tata Communications, feels being an introvert doesn’t mean one is a recluse. And I agree with her. She further recommends,
“Polish your written communication skills to the T and rely on them more heavily. Also work on your interpersonal skills”
A person’s worth isn’t decided by the number of words he or she speaks. There are a whole range of skills that make a person successful and liked by others. Play to your strengths and you have as much a chance as anybody else, your communication style notwithstanding.