Tag Archives: introversion

5 places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

There are places where introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries. In this post, I’ll address five places where introverts sometimes need to escape for a moment. First I’ll relate a story of a family party, which illustrates the first place where introverts need to get away.

lake

A few years ago my family celebrated our daughter’s graduation from high school with a small celebration. We were near a lake and the temperature was in the 90’s. Many of our friends were there with their kids, who immediately took to the water.

It was the perfect setting. I enjoyed conversing with our friends, as we talked about kids and past events; and I was particularly animated as I talked.

Then it hit me like a title wave. I needed time to get away and recharge my batteries. Did I care if company would miss me? Not really.

As an introvert, group events can take a toll on me. I enjoy the company of others, but my energy level for talking with them is not as enduring as it is for extraverts.

Extraverts have that energy that drives them through a party; it charges their batteries. They derive mental stimulation by talking and being listened to.

I don’t’ envy them, though. The time alone to watch the kids swimming in the lake or even sitting in silence next to another introvert is as rewarding as it is for extraverts to talk to others at length. It’s a time to reflect.

Networking events. As an introvert, you may find yourself enjoying a conversation with a few people, but suddenly it occurs to you that where you’d rather be is in a quiet place, such as outside getting some fresh air.

What’s likely to happen is another introvert joining you, perhaps by mistake or because she saw you escaping to your place of reflection.

This is fine, because it’s you and she making small talk, such as, “Had to get away from the crowd.” I know what you mean, she tells you. And so you’ve established a bond.

Like the time I stole away from our guest at my party, you’ve had the opportunity to recharge your batteries so you can return to the larger group, which is now in the “needs and leads” portion of the event.

One of my LinkedIn connections told me this type of break is what she needs during a business event and possibly an extended after hours. Sure, she’d like to retire to her hotel room, but understands the value of personal networking and pushes herself to keep going.

reflect

Work. Some introverts enjoy the opportunity to take a lunch-time walk, while their colleagues, most likely extraverts, are gathered in the staff room engaged in a boisterous conversation.

Walking alone or with a walking mate is a great way to recharge your batteries. I personally prefer listening to music or talk radio, as it allows me to walk at my rapid speed and lose myself in thoughts of the day.

If you’re fortunate to have an office or cubicle away from the fray, this type of situation is ideal after a day full of meetings, not only to recharge your battery but also to respond to any e-mails following the meetings.

Introverts are more productive when they have solitude and moments to reflect and write, something they prefer over meetings and brainstorming sessions. They derive their creativity from being alone or working with one other person.

Watch this TED talk by Susan Cain who explains how introverts are most creative.

Research

At home. Even when I’m home, I feel the need to wind down by reading a book or watching Netflix. This is alone time I value you very much.

My wife says I’m rigid, because I usually won’t join her when she goes out with our friends for dinner, as I know “dinner” can mean staying out past my bedtime. I don’t mind missing the interaction with our friends, and they understand my need for solitude.

Introverts need the opportunity to recover from an intense day of job searching or working. It’s the perfect conclusion to their day. Of course this doesn’t mean you neglect your family; be sure to engage with them before you get away to retire to a quiet place.

Vacation. Two summers ago our family was fortunate to vacation on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. (I say fortunate because we can’t always coordinate time when we’re always together.)

In my mind, this was a great vacation because it afforded me the time to reflectdraw my energy inward, and not concern myself with too much external stimuli. In three words: an introvert’s paradise.

We enjoyed many activities, including body surfacing in the ocean, people watching in Province Town, buying and eating lobster, taking walks to the Bay, and relaxing by the nightly fire.

The best part of the vacation was the time I spent reading alongside my daughter, who was engaged in Gone Girl. The rest of the family was down by the ocean body surfing or floating on the surface. Occasionally they’d beckon us to join them, but we’d wave our hands at them indicating we were happy where we were.


 

Whether you’re at a family gathering, a networking event, at work, at home, or on vacation; getting away is important for maintaining a strong energy level. Introverts are capable of interaction for extended periods of time, but we’re more comfortable if we take time to get away.

Don’t deny yourself this opportunity and don’t feel as if you’re being antisocial. You’ll be happier and more productive if you tend to your preferred way to energize yourself.

Photo: Flickr, Dave McGlinchey

Photo: Flickr, Kirsty Harrison

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2 areas where self-promotion is important for introverts

As my wife and I were driving our daughter home from a summer camp in Maine, where she was employed as a counselor, my daughter brought up a topic that is familiar with those who prefer introversion. The topic was self-promotion, which many introverts struggle with.

work

She began be telling us that she worked harder than some of the counselors, but didn’t get recognized for it. In fact, those very counselors who weren’t as effective were given praise in moments when she should have. I asked her why, and she told me that they were constantly in the ear of the supervisors, being their friend and talking about the great things they did.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to put on my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator hat and give her some advice. I told her that in the future she’ll need to promote herself better. That self-promotion comes harder to introverts because they’re not as outspoken about it.

It’s not that introverts don’t want to be recognized, it’s just that they find it awkward doing what my daughter had described about the other counselors who were getting the recognition. I emphasized to my daughter that she has to be more proactive about promoting herself in the two most important areas in her life, the job search and then work.

So how can she and other introverts promote themselves in important areas of their lives?

Job search

Writing is something with which introverts are comfortable. It allows them to process their thoughts and speak (through writing) intelligently. Therefore, their written communications will in all likelihood outshine extraverts, who are more prone to talking. Introverts are stronger when it comes to writing resumes, cover letters, and their LinkedIn profiles.

Although introverts are not as comfortable with networking as extraverts, they possess the strength of listening and asking relevant questions. Introverts also prefer smaller groups, so a buddy group might be more to their liking. When it comes to conversation, introverts would rather talk in depth than have longer more shallow conversations. It’s not that extraverts are better networkers; they don’t get overwhelmed by people as much as introverts do.

In interviews introverts tend not to be as animated and spontaneous as their counterpart. They don’t display the bravado extraverts do. However, what they lack in display of enthusiasm, they bring more preparation to the table. I recently conducted a mock interview with a client who rates 20 out of 21 points as an introvert. She defied everything I’ve just written. She came across as confident, at sometimes animated, smiled and laughed on key. Through her answers I got the sense she had researched the company and position and, as a result, was well prepared. This can be a strength of introverts.

At work

As I state in my story about my daughter, introverts need to be more “friendly” with their direct supervisors. I’m not suggesting they appear in their supervisor’s office three times a day. It’s only natural for supervisors and managers to feel well liked, so visiting them or catching them in the hallway just to talk is a good thing. The frequent encounter is not kissing up to the supervisor; it’s building and nurturing a relationship.

As mentioned earlier, introverts’ strengths lie mostly in writing. In my opinion if extraverts are going to promote themselves through oral communications, why shouldn’t introverts promote themselves through written communications. I’m speaking of email. When I accomplish something at work, I send an email about my accomplishment to my manager. Sometimes I’ll cc the director of the organization.

If introverts take this approach, they must be sure to include anyone who helped them with a project, solved a problem, provided excellent customer service. In other words, not come across as self-serving.

The direct approach is sometimes best. Introverts must also be willing to knock on their manager’s door and talk about the accomplishment they’ve achieved. They shouldn’t come across as boastful, but they should show pride in their accomplishment.

The other day I went to my manager and told her I needed more clients to counsel (showing initiative). Before she could ask why, I told her that many of my clients were landing jobs. This made me feel somewhat awkward, but I knew it was a time when I had to point out my accomplishments…in a “by-the-way manner.” It was well taken by my manager.

One bit of advice I have for introverts, as well as exraverts, is not to use meetings as a way to blatantly tout their successes. If the timing is right, introverts should mention their accomplishments, while also acknowledging a team effort. Anyone who talks in “I” terms only comes across as self-centered. Eyes will start to roll when this happens.


Perhaps it’s the awkwardness of self-promotion that prevents introverts from getting promoted more often than extraverts. Introverts make excellent workers, as my daughter illustrates; but they don’t get the recognition, again as my daughter illustrates. I hope in the future she learns how to be more forthcoming with her accomplishments.

Photo: recruiter.com

 

5 ways to avoid a bad experience at networking events

two people talkingRecently I attended a networking event which left me with the feeling that I must have had the words, “Talk at me” written on my forehead. Not, “Listen to what I have to say. You may actually be interested.”

In other words, I didn’t get a word in edgewise. It got to the point where the words spewing out of peoples’ mouths were simply noise that I had to block out, lest I ran from the room screaming.

It’s not like wanted to be the one who did all the talking–I didn’t–or that I expected people to abide by Robert’s Rules of Order–that’s a bit extreme. I just didn’t want to feel like I was a sounding board.

I’m being a bit dramatic. I had great conversations with a photographer who explained how he programs meta tags into people’s LinkedIn photos to optimize their profile—I still don’t understand that.

Another person I spoke to talked about the  networking groups she started, demonstrating her concern for job seekers.

A third person I spoke with is someone for whom I wrote a LinkedIn profile, someone I met at this group years ago.

No, it was just one person who chewed my ear off and made the whole night a lousy experience. Complaining about people who talk too much is becoming a common theme with me.

As I think about the night and how I could have participated more and not simply been a sounding board, I’ve come to realize five things I need to do better to prepare for networking events.

1. Have exit phrases. I don’t have any “exit” phrases to use when people want to hear themselves talk and could care less about what I have to contribute. This doesn’t only apply to people who attend networking events; I run across this in my daily life.

I realize I need phrases that will release me from their grip of constant verbiage that makes my eyes turn to stone. I know I can’t say, “Please, for the love of God, stop talking.” No, that wouldn’t work. The following would be better:

“Please forgive me, I was heading for the bar to get a drink for myself and a friend of mine.” 

“A person I’ve been meaning to speak to has arrived. Would you excuse me?”

“It just occurred to me that I have to remind the host of an idea I have for her.”

“I’d like to hear more about your product/situation. Let me take your business card and I’ll follow up.”

Of course, none of these came to mind.

2. Get the message across. I have to get my messages across. I have to remember that feeling of anger I had and, in the future, be bent on doing most of the talking, almost to the point where I’m the one dominating the conversation….

Naw, that’s not good networking, and that’s not me. I believe in equal time. I believe in courteousness, where everyone gets heard. But some people could care less about others’ right to talk, which seems disrespectful to me. I’ve noticed that some people converse as if its a dueling match, but that’s not me. “As I was saying,” often works for me when I want the floor.

3. Ask questions. If I don’t understand what the person is talking about, instead of nodding as though I understand what she’s saying. This slows the gushing of words pouring from her mouth and helps me contribute to the discussion.

“So are you saying you’re looking for a job in marketing, more specifically social media? That’s interesting. I teach courses on LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging. Social media is dominating the landscape in some marketing departments. Would you like to take my business card and follow up with me?”

4. Be mentally prepared. I have to prepare myself. Some pundits believe that introverts may be slower on the uptake when it comes to small talk or self-promotion.

Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extroverted World, claims that introverts are physiologically slower than extraverts when expressing themselves. They need to formulate their thoughts before speaking, lest they say something unintelligible.

I notice that I’m at my best against loquacious types when my adrenaline is higher than usual. I’m more animated and expressive. This can take some preparation before going to a networking event by getting in the mood to attend, somewhat difficult for introverts.

5. Leave. That’s right. If the event isn’t meeting your expectations, or you’re being talked at with no ability to retreat; simply say adieu to the host and anyone with whom you made a connection.

There’s no sense in drawing out a bad experience. Call it a loss, but by no means consider all networking events are the same. At this particular event I had the misfortune to be assaulted by the wrong person. Many other events have turned out very well for me.


I enjoy attending networking events but what I experienced that night is what gives networking a bad name. Connecting at these events should be a natural process, one of give and take; not one where you leave with your head spinning.

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Stop the noise. Introverts resist three types of noise

NoiseAs I look at the Christmas lights that are hung on my neighbors’ bushes, fences, and house rafters; I wonder if the colors of said lights are a reflection of the owners’ preference for introversion or extraversion.

And from what I know of the residents, my assumption that introverts prefer white lights and that extraverts prefer colored lights is an accurate one. But this is only an assumption. I’m not aware of any theories that talk about preferences in color.

Looking at the colored lights from my front steps, I am aware of the “loud” colors. My lights, on the other hand, are white; soft white, in fact. To me they’re subtle, like my personality.

What I know for a fact is that introverts resist noise. Their tolerance for noise is not as great as their counterparts’. They hear the noise in various settings.

Introverts Resist Noise from Conversation

The noise of which I speak comes first in the form of verbal communications. Introverts can only take so much talk before they’ve had enough and feel they must run for the hills.

I give as an example the times I go to a public place like Starbucks where all I want to do is focus on writing posts or preparing presentations; and without fail the person sitting next to me wants to engage in conversation. (Read my post on disrupting alone time.)

In other cases I’m the social butterfly, like when I’m watching my child’s soccer or basketball games. I’ll talk throughout the whole game, always aware of the other person’s desire for conversation. If I sense there is no desire to reciprocate, I’ll respect the person’s wishes.

Extraverts, I feel, are always up for a conversation. It’s their way of recharging their batteries. It’s their level of energy that surpasses that of an introvert. But their unwanted talking is noise.

Noise, Noise

Another example of noise that introverts can do without is actual…noise. I for one can only handle so many devices playing in the household. The television, radio, and my daughter’s tablet playing Netflix playing all at once is maddening.

All of this is enough to make me want to shut everything off, which is what I do sometimes. This raises my family members brows, as if I’m being a downer. No, it’s just too noisy.

Some people are able to read while watching TV or listen to the stereo. Not me. I need quiet with a slight bit of white noise in the form of a fan or air conditioner. It is my introversion that requires the slightest bit of noise, not a blaring television.

If you’re looking to destroy an introverted person’s attention span, just put them in a situation where they feel overstimulated. Due to increased sensitivity to their surroundings, introverts struggle with feeling distracted,  and sometimes overwhelmed…(10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World)

Research shows that introverted infants react differently to noise than extraverted ones. The introvert infants become disturbed, cry, and thrash around more than the extravert infants. For highly sensitive people, 70% of whom are introverts, noise is particularly noticeable.

Noise from Crowds is a Distraction

Loud pubs and sporting events may get on the nerves of introverts, while arousing the extravert. The extravert is drawn to the noise like moths to light. The introverts feels like escaping the setting like a cornered animal.

Worse yet would be trying to have a conversation in a loud pub, where you want to say—and do say, “Let’s go somewhere quiet.” Your extraverted friend is fine with the music; he’s quite enjoying it.

It’s a matter of functioning. How well do you function at work when people are talking around you? As an extravert, it’s a distraction. But as an introvert, it’s almost impossible to get your work done.

After a workshop, I want to retreat to my cubicle, where I can sit and relax away from people who would like to talk endlessly (it seems). This is not uncommon among introverts. We’re not antisocial; we just need to get away from the noise.

Back to Noise from Colors

Nowhere in literature can I find evidence that introverts are more sensitive to color, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It makes sense that extraverts prefer the “loudness” that bright colors emit.

When my wife and I talk about Christmas lights, we admit that the soft white ones draw less attention to us. For this introvert, at least, I prefer the softness of white lights.

Job Interview Success for Introverts: So, you’re an introvert

So, you’re an introvert

Book Cover

I was in my mid 40’s when I discovered my preference for introversion. Until then, I thought I was an extravert (extrovert), mainly because I could, and still can, talk with ease to complete strangers. Truth be told, I hoped that my preference was for extraversion, not introversion; simply because society favors extraverts in most aspects of life: school, work, social interaction, and the job search, to name a few. I doubted my acceptance and didn’t speak proudly of my preference until I learned more about the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory.

Do you remember when you learned your preference for introversion? Were you in doubt like me? Did you have a sense of dread thinking of the stereotypes of introverts, such as shy, loner, standoffish, aloof, recluse, or rude? Furthermore, you may have believed that introverts couldn’t make small talk or associate with important, outgoing people.

But if all of this were true, how were you capable of talking with complete strangers, even approaching them, or want to be with your peers and attend social gatherings? How was it that some of your friends accused you of talking too much? And how have you been able to rub elbows with authorities in your town or city, to make small talk with the best of them? You were behaving more like an extravert, weren’t you? No, you were behaving like an introvert, able to adapt to your setting, and doing all the things mentioned here was a result of your introversion.

Now being an introvert doesn’t seem so bad, does it? In fact, being an introvert has its benefits. You are an intelligent conversationalist. You think before talking and, therefore, don’t make as many faux pas as some of your extraverted friends and colleagues. You are an engaged listener who doesn’t think about what you’ll say next before totally hearing the other person out. Being alone doesn’t upset you; rather, you enjoy going to the movies alone and eating alone. Your friends and family can’t understand this. You love writing and do it well. There are many things about being an introvert that you appreciate, feel comfortable with, and wouldn’t want to change.

There are truths, though, that set introverts apart from extraverts; truths that put introverts at a disadvantage in life and the job search, especially at the all-important interview. Some of the strengths introverts possess can be faults, particularly when it comes to verbal communications. Talking, small talk to be precise, is a challenge for introverts because they feel the need to think before speaking, whereas extraverts will speak before thinking. Because of their inclination to think before talking, introverts are often left out of conversations.


Job Interview Success for Introverts is available at Packt Publishing

Small talk and 5 other traits introverts must improve upon

breakroomWhen my colleagues are chatting away during lunch, I like to join their conversation which is usually about current affairs, television shows, or other topics extraverts seem to enjoy and master with ease.

I do my best to break into their banter, picking the right opportunity to voice my views. But at times choosing my words seems like work. I’m not unusual in this way–finding making small talk difficult–other introverts have expressed the same frustration.

Being comfortable making small talk is one trait I admire in extraverts. Other extravert traits I admire are:

Ability to promote themselves. Extraverts have the gift of gab, and we all know that verbal communications is more direct and timely than written communications. While I feel comfortable sending an e-mail to my manager about my accomplishments, extraverts would go directly to her office and talk about their accomplishments. This confidence they display I erroneously misconstrue for conceit.

Solution. Before approaching the manager to speak of their accomplishments, introverts should formulate what they’re going to say. It may be helpful to write down some talking points on their accomplishments before approaching the manager. They should also remember to smile.

Ease of networking. Most extraverts will tell you they have no problem entering a room full of people and striking up a conversation. Most introverts will tell you this takes effort and is often uncomfortable, and some introverts will tell you they fear networking, both for professional and job-search purposes. Therefore they don’t network and miss out on valuable opportunities.

Solution. Introverts should not network like extraverts. I tell my jobseekers that introverts can network; they just do it differently. Instead of working the room, they feel more comfortable in smaller groups and engaging in deeper conversation.

Boundless energy. Presenting in front of a group doesn’t scare me. By most accounts I’m quite good at it. However, after conducting three workshops a day, my brain feels like mash potatoes. Extraverts, on the other hand, can talk till the sun goes down. Where extraverts may run into problems is not taking time to ask questions and listen to their attendees. Introverts are said to be better listeners. Still, it’s nice to have the endurance to talk with people for eternity.

Solution. Introverts should take advantage of downtime to recharge their battery. I retreat to my cubicle where I can rest my mind and reflect on the next workshop to come. When colleagues approach me during my down time, I tell them I’m busy with important work…even if I’m not. Introverts must take any opportunity they have to re-charge their batteries so they can be ready to jump back into action.

Conflict management. Well-known psychologist and author, Marti Olsen LaneyPsy.D, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, asserts that introverts are not as strong at conflict resolution as extraverts are. She writes that introverts avoid conflict as much as possible, and I see her point.

Solution. In order to be good at conflict management, introverts must choose their battles and formulate their thoughts before jumping into the foray. When an answer to an accusation is called for, introverts should ask for time to think about their response. I feel this way when I’m asked to defend my actions.

Participating at meetings. I tell my MBTI workshop attendees that introverts have wonderful ideas but often let those ideas go unheard because they fail to speak up at meetings. The extraverts dominate the discussion because they feel uncomfortable when there is silence. Silence is not a problem for introverts.

Solutions. Arrive with talking points or write them as you’re listening to the other members of the group. When your ideas warrant being introduced, don’t wait passively for your turn; speak out regardless of etiquette. I feel strongly about being forceful, as evident by the time I jumped in front of one of my extraverted colleagues in order to express my thoughts. He took offense, but he’d already had his 500-word limit.

My admiration for extraverts makes me think about how I can improve on the aforementioned strengths they possess. I’ve witnessed them in my extraverted colleagues and friends; as I’ve also witnessed introverts weaknesses. With some practice, introverts can improve upon their weaknesses, and extraverts can tone it down.

Don’t disrupt my alone time, and 3 facts about introverts’ alone time

coffee shop 2Although the music is noticeable and people at the table in front of me are chatting and laughing, I’m happily engaged in one of my favorite activities, writing. I’m unfazed by the noise from the music and people as I sit in a plush chair in my favorite coffee shop.

The people and music are more like white noise than a disruption. It’s as though I’m alone. You could say I’m in the zone. The introverts’ ability to be alone, even in a loud setting, speaks to their ability to concentrate on the task at hand.

We introverts simply block out those around us. Some may see this as aloofness or even snobbishness. But it’s none of these; we just refuse to be distracted. Extraverts, who are drawn to people, may not demonstrate the same discipline; they thrive on stimuli and are more aware of their surrounding. Not me. I’m alone.

My alone time is about to be disrupted.

A man sits down next to me and after a few minutes wants to talk about the Red Sox’ World Series win; and I would gladly discuss the momentous event with him, but not now. I’m friendly, so I respond to his greeting and comments but quickly return to my writing.

It becomes obvious that he wants to talk more about the World Series, despite my obvious hint—I think it’s a clear hint. Maybe two minutes of conversation will be enough to satisfy this interloper, I reason.

Two minutes pass and soon it approaches five minutes. Then I start to feel annoyed with this man who wants nothing more than to talk baseball. He launches into Big Papi’s MVP award, followed by the duck boat parade he wanted to attend but had to watch on TV with his wife, who kept asking about the various players. The conversation seems more like an obligation than a mutual discussion.

My feeling of annoyance soon turns into the uneasy feeling of being trapped; after all, I didn’t ask for this conversation. A simple “hi” and a comment or two about the World Series would be fine, but to launch into a full-fledged conversation is ruining my focus, unlike the music and chatter that seem like they’re in the distance.

Prior to his arrival, I was pounding out sentence after sentence. Things were making sense. I had this eternal happiness that some mistake for simply being within oneself, which to an introvert is true happiness. And this man, although pleasant and gregarious, should know the following about introverts:

  1. When you see someone so focused that his eyes drift not from his computer screen, leave well enough alone. He’s probably taking advantage of what small amount of alone time he has.
  2. We like human contact, but at times we want to be alone, even if it’s in a crowded coffee house. It’s one of our pleasures which you, as stimuli-driven individuals may not understand.
  3. Conversation is not about you. If the other person is not engaged, it’s a sign that the person is not interested in the conversation. On the other hand, a welcome response signals a two-way conversation.

It’s obvious that I won’t get anything done with this person to the left of me talking incessantly, so I turn to the person who is sitting to my right, my adorable daughter, and ask, “Honey, are you ready to go?” Together my daughter and I leave the coffee shop, and on the way home she asks me who that annoying guy was. Just someone with bad timing I tell her.

Photo courtesy of lamill coffee, los angeles by oceanerin on Flickr