Okay, let me start by putting my cards on the table: I am an introvert. Shocking, I know! There have been times when I’ve walked into networking events and immediately wished I could sport a cloak of invisibility. Over the years I’ve learnt how to be a “situational extravert” as I like to call it – meaning I can dial it up when I need to. But the truth is, I’m still an introvert at heart.
Being an introvert in the corporate world sometimes feels like trying to quietly read a book at a rock concert. Everyone else seems to be out there, mingling, laughing, and tossing business cards around like confetti. Meanwhile, us introverts are often found mulling over the agenda, waiting for the right time to chime in.
For the introvert, it can feel like a balancing act between wanting to stay in the shadows whilst still wanting to be recognised as a valuable contributor. A question I get asked all the time by my coaching participants is how can they be seen and heard at work, while still staying true to their nature of being an introvert at heart?
First, we need to break down exactly what it means to be an introvert at work. For us introverts, it’s like we’re rechargeable batteries that juice up best in solitary, calm spaces. On the flip side, extroverts are like solar panels, basking in and drawing energy from external stimulation and bustling surroundings. For someone like me, the ideal social setting is a relaxed environment with a small handful of close family and friends, but even then I need time alone to recharge and recalibrate. Give me enough moments in my sanctuary, and I’m all set to mingle and jingle in more lively settings.
I know from countless coaching conversations that this isn’t just my personal experience – and it very well might resonate with you too. If you’re wanting to shine in a bustling workplace teeming with extroverts, read on for five of my top introvert-approved tactics to increase your visibility at work.
Start by knowing your introversion is not a flaw; it’s a superpower! We introverts make up about a third of the population. That’s a hefty chunk of people who probably also find coffee breaks a tad too ‘people-y’. Our strength? We listen, we observe, and by keeping our mouths shut and soaking it all in, we connect the dots! We’re the ones who’ll pick up on the things others miss in their haste. Remember, while extroverts are making the noise, introverts are making the notes. (And, often, the better strategies.)
So you’ve got a networking do or a team huddle on the horizon? Don’t pull a classic “fashionably late” move. My big tip: arrive as early as possible. It’s a sneaky way to snag some one-on-one chats before the room starts buzzing louder than your morning alarm.
Getting stuck into conversations early is like taking that first chilly dip in the pool; once you’re in, the rest feels like a tropical breeze. And once the meeting gets started, have a crack at throwing in your two cents at the get-go. Be it an observation, a question, or a “Hey, I read this article…” – anything to get your voice heard. For us introverts, it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid – best to get it over with early. Plus, you’ve left your mark, and who knows, your early input might just be the chat’s highlight reel!
Introverts often excel when they’re prepared. It’s like having a cheat sheet in a test. Whether you’re gearing up for a presentation, or a meeting, or even just the Monday morning team catch-up, preparation gives you that confidence boost. We might not always be the loudest in the room, but give us a quiet corner, a bit of time, and something to prepare for, and we’re like a squirrel stocking up for winter – thorough and relentless.
Being prepared isn’t just about getting your facts straight. Think of it as your personal confidence booster. Whether you’ve got some handy notes, a few rehearsed lines, or just a couple of main points you’re burning to share, it can make all the difference.
Susan Cain’s brilliant book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, is practically my introvert bible. One of her top tips that resonated with me is actively seeking out quiet spaces. It’s like our version of a phone charger. We need those pockets of peace to recharge and rejuvenate. So whether it’s a peaceful balcony at work or that unused meeting room, find your sanctuary.
Side note: Post-presentation, I sometimes feel like I’ve run a marathon… in heels. It’s okay to feel drained and seek some alone time. Dial it up when you need to, but remember to dial it back down to recharge.
Remember, every Batman needs a Robin. While the extroverts are out there making the noise, we can be the force behind the scenes, guiding, advising, and making informed decisions. Our power lies in depth, analysis, and thoughtfulness. And trust me, that is something every workplace needs.
Remember, you don’t need to be the loudest in the room to make an impact. Every time you doubt if your quiet voice has power, remember it’s not always about volume, but the value of what’s being said. So, fellow introverts, chin up, take a deep breath, and step into that spotlight when it feels right.