For the Introverts Living in an Extroverted World

Sally looked down the corridor and saw a group of what seemed like less than enthusiastic clients headed towards her department, she silently mouthed to her self…Please not me, please not me, please not me…Her hopes quickly fell as she recognized one of the individuals as her client and by that time it was too late to hide under the desk.

Sally is an introvert who, for whatever reason, has found herself in a role that requires her to deal with a bit more people than she would prefer to.

Luckily for Sally and people like her, there are no such things as purely introverted or extroverted people, to quote Carl Jung.

Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum

Most of us sit on the Ambivert Continuum, what this entails is that regardless of your chosen career path and introvert and extrovert tendencies, they are strengths that you can draw on from the other side. In the case of introverts, from their extrovert side. It’s somewhat like being left or right handed;

Most of us will be one or the other, but writing with your right hand doesn’t render your left hand inert. Similarly, an extroverted person can still do things that aren’t typically associated with extroversion. Meanwhile, introverts can learn to adapt to more extroverted scenarios, even if it might not come as naturally.

Life Hacker

So if the phrase ‘People Skills’ in a Job Description drives fear down your very heart, hears 4 things that might help ease the panic;

  1. Focus on the task at hand – Instead of trying to be something that you’re not, focus on how to meet your job roles within your realm of capabilities, after all you were recruited for a reason! Also looking at the extroverted parts of your job as exactly that job roles and splitting them into functional parts may help you approach them better.
  2. Use the Law of Reciprocity – Most work places rely on mutually beneficial relationships and this can be a gift for both introverts and extroverts. By cultivating relationships, you can scratch each others backs where all of you play to your strengths.
  3. Know your defense mechanisms & curb them – We all have defense mechanisms that we fall back on in stressful situations. Whether you become become very loud or a you go still like a deer in headlights, know what it is that you do and work on it. I naturally talk very fast and when I get flustered the pace doubles, so I have learnt to force my self to speak very slowly which according to everyone else ends up being a normal speaking pace.
  4. Find your quiet place in the noise – Maybe its inside your noise cancelling headphones or the quiet place behind your office building, but find a place where you can escape and internalize for five minutes without anyone interrupting or judging.

Remember that personality like so many other things sits on continuum, no one is ever just one thing and if nothing else not everyone is just one thing thus you get to draw on their capabilities . Unless you are road show MC (and I hope you’re not because that would be an unfortunate position to have for an introvert) the odds truly are in your favor.