Being an introvert can be hard work. And sometimes it feels like you’re the only introvert in an extroverted world.
I’ve often thought of my introversion as a flaw, something that I need to work on, to improve or even completely eradicate. As a child you’re told from various sources that you should be outgoing, that you need to be able to command attention in order to be successful. And so I thought that being an introvert was stopping me from doing my best.
Society tends to reward extroverts. Extroversion is often linked to confidence so when my school reports would always come home saying that I was ‘quietly confident,’ I just took that to mean that I was quiet. The second part of the phrase meant nothing to be – what’s the point of being confident if you’re quiet? I just thought that even if I had things to offer I wouldn’t be able to get them across well to anyone.
Over the years I’ve realised that being an introvert isn’t something that’s wrong with me, so here are a few ways to make introversion work for you.
It doesn’t need correcting!
As an introvert you’re not inferior to extroverts. You’re just a different kind of person. You thrive on alone time and probably find social situations exhausting, or at least need some time to recuperate after them. Change your view and realise that being an introvert comes with its own special skill set that makes you unique. You don’t have to be an extrovert to succeed.
Find ways around things.
If you’re anything like me then you probably hate the idea of talking on the phone or sitting in a group meeting. So if someone suggests that you call them to discuss a project, be proactive and ask if maybe you could meet for a one to one meeting in a coffee shop.
If you have to speak in a meeting, ask if you could go first so that you’re not panicking for an hour before it’s your turn.
It won’t always be possible to have these allowances made but there’s no harm in asking. If you feel more comfortable then you’ll be more likely to excel.
Teach yourself small talk.
Small talk is probably my biggest pet hate. I can’t stand it. I don’t care what the weather is like. I don’t care how you got here. I just want to sit in silence please. I probably sound like an awful person here but small just seems completely unnecessary to me.
Unfortunately it’s just one of those things you have to grin and bear, however uncomfortable it makes you. So to make things a little bit easier, think of things you can ask people. People love talking about themselves, so you may as well ask questions that you’re actually interested in hearing the answers to.
Recognise your strengths.
While we’re not all the same, introverts tend to be good at listening, organisation, are good writers and make good friends. It’s easy to see an extrovert and think “I wish I was more like them,” but you have amazing qualities too so focus on them and you’ll be feeling more successful in no time.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you ever wish you were the other way around? Let me know in the comments.