After a sleepless night, followed by a very long day of work, I’m not too keen on going to a business networking event tonight. Normally I’d go, but I see the following scenario unfolding: the night will start off fine, until I become tired and want to leave, most likely at 7:00 pm.
So I’ll to do what is best for all; not go to the event.
I’m an introvert, so really this is the best decision. The chance of me “getting a second wind” is highly unlikely. My counterpart, the extravert, is that person who will suddenly come to life. But not me. In the case of this networking event, I stay home.
This is one of the introverts’ traits; knowing when to say no. One’s preference for introversion or extraversion is about energy, not one’s ability to interact with others. Following are six other traits…and challenges introverts must face.
Engaging in in-depth conversation
The way introverts communicate begins with the way they think. They are drawn to topics of interest and enjoy exploring them at great length. While I’m not a fan of those who say introverts don’t make small talk as well as extraverts, I do admit that making chit chat is not the utmost of importance to me. This is because introverts like me prefer to think deeper, rather than wider.
Small talk is a skill that has its place, particularly during job interviews, with superiors and colleagues, at social events, etc. Introverts must rise to the occasion and draw upon resources like current affairs and conversation that is relevant to the situation. When it comes to interviews, it would be smart to think of talking points, as interviewers consider small talk an important part of an interview.
Thinking before speaking
To introverts their ability to speak with intelligence is about timing, so they choose to share their thoughts when they have their ideas well formulated, not a minute sooner. This is not always true of extraverts who tend to dominate meetings or social gatherings. My MBTI workshop attendees nod their heads in agreement when I assert this observation. I’m sure to add that introverts’ thoughts are just as valid as their counterparts’.
Unfortunately introverts might wait a bit too long to contribute their ideas during a meeting. It’s important to keep track of the conversation, particularly when extraverts are conversing at a fast rate. It is believed that introverts are slower at processing information, which is not to say their ability to develop great ideas is diminished.
Listening when others speak
Introverts have a knack for listening to others when they’re speaking, With their counterpart the same can’t be said, and this is because extraverts have the gift of gab (something introverts envy). Because introverts enjoy in-depth conversations (see strength #1), they’re cognizant of giving and taking. This is one of the introverts’ strength during networking events.
If introverts aren’t up to the challenge, they may find themselves doing all the listening, or at least appearing to listen, as others dominate the conversations. Some believe that introverts enjoy listening to others doing all the talking. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is why, in part, they prefer smaller groups where they don’t have to battle for talking rights.
Respect for others
Introverts hate to be interrupted and, as such, they don’t interrupt others. I recall being at a retirement party for one of my former colleagues when another colleague interrupted a conversation I was having. To say I was annoyed would be an understatement. Another thing introverts tend not to do is confront others. Whether this is a good trait is up for discussion. Their style is to address issues in private, rather than out in the open.
There comes a time when all’s fair in love and war, as the saying goes. Introverts must understand the pattern of the conversation in which they’re engaged. If they don’t assert themselves, they’ll be left out of the conversation and look like a fool. And in terms of confrontation, introverts should not hold in any ill feelings or anger. This will lead to an outburst which does more harm than good.
Introverts prefer to write to communicate their messages. E-mail offers a great way to express their thoughts/feelings without having to spend time talking with individuals when work has to be completed. Writing gives introverts the time to formulate their thoughts and present them in the proper forum. After a workshop I will retire to my office space to research on the computer or write articles. Introverts tend to learn best by doing research and writing.
Whereas writing grants introverts the time to formulate their thoughts, communications also includes speaking. Introverts can’t rely on the luxury of writing to express their thoughts, especially when the time calls for speaking at an interview or presentation, for instance. Note: Online networking using LinkedIn may give introverts the illusion that they are making bona fide connections. This is a misconception; real connections involve dialog via the phone or in person.
Introverts are just as creative as their counterpart, despite what others might think. The workplace places a lot of emphasis on meetings and brainstorming, which are not the introvert’s favorite activities. The introvert prefers working alone or within smaller groups. He enjoys researching the issue and coming to a creative resolution. Brainstorming to the introvert is akin to throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.
Given that meetings and brainstorming are a part of business, the introvert must participate in these activities. He must focus on the tasks at hand and insert his creative thoughts at the right moments. The introvert should arrive at a meeting or brainstorming session with clever ideas prepared.
It turns out that my decision to forgo the networking event was a smart one. A fellow networker tells me that the event was long and tedious, even for an extravert like him. Introverts generally decide against large organized events, but they’ll attend them with the right amount of preparation.
Photo: Flickr, Paul Shanks
Job Interview Success for Introverts is available at Packt Publishing