I’m going to be honest with you right away, being an introvert kind of sucks. Sometimes. In certain situations, I see people doing things I only wish I would feel comfortable doing. Being thrown into a new environment, making friends with people within a few seconds, having a conversation with anyone about anything at any time – these are just a few things I’m not comfortable with …but I fake it. I fake it big time. And sometimes it’s so good people think I’m actually a little outgoing.
I’m shy, and I fully admit this. Throughout my life, people have always described me as “shy, quiet, and reserved” – I know this and I’m cool with it. For me I like being in situations where I know people and feel comfortable around them. I don’t like speaking in front of people. I don’t like being the center of attention. I like spending time alone – actually I love spending time by myself, it reenergizes me. I am a typical introvert, and when it comes to the business world, you would think this personality trait would work against me. People tend to think being an extrovert is so much easier – they like to talk, feel more comfortable in unknown situations, heck – they just like being around people in general. It energizes them, and they’re in their “happy place”. That stuff is all great and dandy, but don’t underestimate the need to have introverts (like myself) on your team.
Some of the most successful people in the world are introverts, and introverts now make up one-third to half of the population in the U.S. – so introverts out there, you’re not alone. And you know what; we’re a great asset to the business world. Why?
We take our time with tasks.
We listen first, talk second…and we also tend to listen to hear, not respond.
We have a tendency to to think first, act second.
We develop deeper relationships with people.
We have a clearer focus and are able to concentrate better on tasks without getting distracted.
It’s pretty obvious that introverts have a different way of thinking and acting. We have a different comfort level. We have a different way of interacting with people. We have different needs. If you’re wondering how to make life easier for the introverts you work with, here are a few tips:
Let us observe first in new situations.
Meet in small groups or one-on-one.
Give us a little more privacy than you would otherwise.
Avoid surprising us – give us as much advanced notice as you can.
Give us time to form relationships.
Don’t try to change us – don’t try to force us to be an extrovert.
The last tip is kind of, sort of really important. You can’t change people, just accept them. And always remember: “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”