Tag Archives: introverts

5 posts that can help you understand introverts in the job search and life

When you learned of your introversion, did you feel a sense of pride or dread. I hope it’s the former, because I am proud to call myself an introvert. Let me correct myself: I’m glad to have a preference for introversion.

man research

One fact that’s important to comprehend—and may give you some solace—is your ability to assert your energy across the spectrum of introversion and extraversion.

In other words, you can demonstrate the traits of an extravert—such as being outgoing and gregarious, excelling at small talk, burning the candle at both ends, managing employees, etc.

Extraverts, the same applies to you. You can be great listeners, take moments to reflect, be alone without being lonely, enjoy writing rather than speaking, etc.

The majority of these articles are about challenges introverts face, but some of them also address the challenges extraverts face. Both dichotomies have their own challenges.


Two areas where self-promotion is important for introverts

One challenge introverts might face is being able to promote themselves in the job search and at work. This post addresses how they can promote themselves.

6 reasons why introverts prefer to write

Introverts generally prefer writing over, say, talking on the phone. It gives them the opportunity to think about what they would like to say in their own time. In addition, they don’t get overpowered by loquacious people, something they don’t enjoy.

5 places introverts need to get away to recharge their batteries

This post is not about the job search, per say; but it is about how introverts use their energy. When it comes down to it introversion is about energy, energy they have to be around people.

3 vital areas where Extraverts can improve their job search

What did I say in the intro? This compilation of posts doesn’t only address introverts; it also addresses the challenges extraverts face. If you’re an extravert, I dare you to read this post

2 great reasons why introverted job seekers should walk

Introverts find various ways to carve out the time to reflect. Mine is walking. Yours may be hiking, yoga, going to the gym, taking a ride, etc. Imagine doing what helps you to reflect.

Advertisements

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

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 seldom 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

 

Brainstorming, Agile; does it work for introverts?

On a visit to my brother’s school (he was a principal at the time), I noticed a whiteboard in his office with various notes on the school’s vision written on it. “Brainstorming session?” I asked. He nodded with a smile on his face.

Brainstorming

I thought to myself that I wouldn’t want to have been in that room when a group of people who were throwing ideas against the wall to see which ones stick. Furthermore, there were probably others who felt the same. Brainstorming is good, right?

One of my valued connections recently alerted me to an article, Is Agile Stifiling Introverts? The article decries the concept of a system that values brainstorming sessions as part of open work environments. While extraverts may prosper in an Agile environment, introverts may find it disconcerting.

Agile is often credited with company success, but opponents have concluded that its productivity is in question. The article states: “For years Agile has been encouraging teams to work together collaboratively in open spaces and encouraging developers to pair program, but lately these types of practices have been coming under fire.”

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, explains that introverts excel in closed environments as opposed to open ones. A self-professed introvert, she supports the belief that a closed environment brings out creativity in introverts, not open environments like those depicted in the movie about Facebook, Social Network.

As an introvert I consider brainstorming sessions a waste of time if there is no semblance of order and structure. I grow weary of meetings that resemble a social gathering. However, a well-run meeting that covers all the topics in a quick manner can be extremely effective.

What has proved to be effective with introverts is paring them up with someone to solve problems, rather than chaotic brainstorming sessions, even if one works with someone who is not in total agreement. “Working alone is good for creativity – but being paired with someone who thinks differently from you can lead to more creativity yet,” states the aforementioned article.

Why introverts appreciate closed work environments with offices and cubicle supports a number of beliefs about I’s, such as they learn and gather more through independent research. They don’t want the distractions of colleagues walking into their workspace uninvited. A closed environment also gives them time to recharge their batteries if they’ve been interacting with groups or speaking in front of an audience.

Does this mean introverts are anti-social? No, but they’re not like their counterparts who seek out the company of others. Although it’s true some introverts, such as the stereotypical programmers, need almost complete privacy; many introverts can join the fracas and engage in office conversation. But, again, their preference is to be alone when it’s time to get down to work.

Cain is quoted in the article about the importance of solitude for introverts: “Solitude, as Cain says, is a key to creativity….Steve Wozniak claimed he never would have become such an expert if he left the house. Of course, collaboration is good (witness Woz and Steve Jobs), but there is a transcendent power of solitude.”

Pay attention in interviews

Job seekers can gain a lot from understanding their introversion or extraversions preference. At interviews they should make careful note of the work environment and ask questions pertaining to collaboration (brainstorming).

If introverts get the sense that it’s an Agile-type environment, it may not be the organization for them. Extraverts, on the other hand, would be happy to know that they’ll be among the social, freewheeling types.


Leaving my brother’s school, I asked him if he gained results from brainstorming. He smiled, saying that he finds it a great way to gather ideas, as well as letting people get to know each other better. Hmm, my ears were hearing “social gathering,” which to me doesn’t equal productivity.

Photo: Flickr, Michael Carli

3 vital areas where extraverts can improve their job search

With the plethora of job-search advice for introverts (Is) and approximately zero for extraverts (Es), it must make the Es feel…unloved. I’d like to give some love to the Es, because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. In this post I’ll advise the Es on mistakes they can avoid.

woman-at-computer

There are three components of a job seeker’s marketing campaign, written documents, networking, and interviews, where Es can use some help.

1. Written communications. For most, the job search begins with submitting a résumé and posting a LinkedIn profile. The act of writing their marketing documents can sometimes be problematic for the Es, who prefer speaking over writing.

Is, on the other hand, prefer writing than conversing and, as a rule, excel in this area. The Is are more reflective and take their time to write their marketing materials. They prepare by researching the position and company—almost to a fault.

Es must resist the urge to hastily write a résumé and LinkedIn profile that fails to accomplish: addressing the job requirements in order of priority, highlighting relevant accomplishments, and promoting branding.

One excuse I hear from my extraverted customers for faltering in this area is that they’ll nail the interview. At this point I tell them they “ain’t” getting to the interview without a powerful résumé.

Where the Es can shine in this area of the job search is the distribution of their written material. They are natural networkers who understand the importance of getting the résumé into the hands of decision makers and, as such, should resist simply posting their résumé to every job board out there.

This is where the Is can take a lesson from their counterpart, the ability to network with ease.

2. Speaking of networking; Es are generally more comfortable than Is when it comes to attending formal networking events. But not all Es are master networkers.

The main faux pas of poor networkers is loquaciousness, which is a fancy word for talking too much. While Is are often accused of not talking enough, Es have to know when to shut the motor—a tall order for some Es.

Networking isn’t about who can say the most in a three-hour time period. Proper networking requires a give and take mentality. Take a lesson from the Is who listen to what others have to say, as well as ask probing questions. People appreciate being listened to.

Many of my extraverted customers tell me they talk too much, and some have admitted they annoy people. These folks feel the need to explain every little detail or their search or their past work. Others might just like the sound of their voice.

I would be remiss in not stating that I know plenty Es who are great listeners and are truly interested in what others have to say.

3. Es are known to be very confident at interviews, which is a good thing. But they can also be over confident which leads them to ignore the tenets of good interviewing. That’s a bad thing.

At interviews the Es must keep in mind that it’s not a time to control the conversation. The interviewer/s have a certain number of questions they need to ask the candidates, so it’s best to answer them succinctly while also supplying the proper amount of information.

Lou Adler writes in an article about answers that are too long:

The best answers are 1-2 minutes long….Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.

One more area the Es must work on is conducting the proper research before an interview. They are confident oral communicators and may see no need to research the job, company, and competition; thus going in unprepared. Winging it is not going to win the job; the person with the right answers will.

The Is, on the hand, could take a lesson from the Es’ playbook in terms of confidence during the interview. They need to speak more freely and quicker; rather then reflecting and appearing to reflect too much. This is where the Is preparation comes in handy.

There has to be a middle ground, referred to by folks like Daniel Pink as ambiverts, when it comes to reaching the right amount of talking and listening at networking events and interviews. Accordingly, the Es who “score” slight in clarity on the continuum (11-13) are more likely to be better listeners, as well as comfortable with small talk. This is likely true for Is who also score in the slight range.

When it comes to written and oral communications in the job search, Es have to be cognizant of taking their time constructing their résumés and knowing when it’s time to listen as opposed to talking too much. Without understanding the importance of effective written and verbal communications, the job search for the Es can be a long haul.

Photo, Flickr, Source One Network Solutions

8 networking tips for introverts

Eric Qualman

And how not to arrive to an event unprepared.

I was once given a ticket to a guest-speaker event put on for a group of young professionals in my community. I was excited and grateful for the opportunity because I’d be seeing Erik Qualman speak about social media—Erik wrote Socialnomics and is a great speaker. I would be able to sit comfortably and listen to an expert on social networking entertain me. So I thought.

When I arrived at the event I discovered there would be a networking hour preceding it, and that I was woefully under-dressed. My vision of kicking back and listening to a great speaker was dashed when I entered a hallway full of people dressed to the nines engaged in conversation. I promptly went to the men’s room, looked at my sad self in the mirror, and exited the building.

I needed air. It took me a few minutes to collect myself and prepare for an unfamiliar group of well-dressed people I’d be meeting (or hiding from). I was starting to feel like I was in a dream where I was in one of my workshops dressed in my underwear only. But I promptly reentered the building and (luckily) spotted someone I knew.

From this incident, I have eight tips to help introverts prepare for a networking event, not simply go with eyes closed—I’m proof of this.

  1. Know what’s on the agenda. In retrospect the first thing I should have asked when accepting the ticket to this event was what kind of event it was going to be. Instead I gratefully accepted the ticket  from a benefactor, failing to ask the nature of the event.
  2. Ask if there’s a dress code. Had I known there was going to be a networking session before the speaker went on, I would have dressed better. There’s nothing more distracting than knowing you’re under dressed for a networking event. (Again, I think of that horrible dream of walking into one of my workshops dressed only in my underwear.
  3. Go with business cards. I have business cards for work as well as personal business cards, none of which were on my person. Had I known what was going to precede the speaking event, I would have brought a set of business cards. There is nothing worse than someone handing you his/her business card and having to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my cards with me.”
  4. Bring a buddy. Go to the event with someone or arrange to meet a person or two there. Perhaps there’s a person or two you’re interested in meeting for the first time. Reach out to see if they’er going. It’s assuring to know there will be someone you can speak with after you’ve made an initial connection. Warning: don’t stick together like groupies. Spread out.
  5. Make a soft introduction to the speaker. For introverts the soft introduction, via e-mail or LinkedIn, is a great way to introduce themselves to someone at an event. If possible, contact the person who’ll be speaking at the event. This takes some of the pressure off of approaching the person for the first time.
  6. You don’t have to stay until the end. It’s not like when you closed the bar during your college days. Oh, you didn’t do that? In any case, don’t feel like you have to stay to the end. There have been many times when I had such a great time at a networking event that I ended up staying the whole time. “Is it really time to go?”
  7. Mentally prepare for the event. Introverts have to develop a “Just do it” attitude. We need to prep ourselves to get outside our comfort zone, which includes preparing for small talk, not relying on seeing a room full of familiar faces. Preparing for a networking event might begin hours before the event, or, for some, days beforehand.
  8. Prepare an exit strategy. Related to number six, when you find yourself cornered by a selfish (did I say that) attendee who thinks he’s the center of the Universe and will not stop talking, you need a phrase to separate yourself from him. “It was great talking with you. I was planning to meet someone and I’d like to speak with her. (This is where your buddy can come in handy.)

The evening turned out to be great fun for me. I spoke to people who were no more prepared than me and others who were there to work the room. When I re-entered at the beginning of the event, I knew there was no turning back; and I’m glad I didn’t. One thing I wish I had done that evening was stay for the food, which looked awesome.

A major victory: I connected with a man who needed some work to be done on his LinkedIn profile. Had I not been there, I never would have run into him and earned his business.

Photo: Flickr, Girişimo

The ideal car drive for two introverts

Teenage driver

This is a post I wrote about six months ago, but I think the message is important to introverts who may feel that the way they prefer to converse is perfectly fine. I can’t remember every word my daughter and I spoke during this memorable conversation, but the dialog is accurate. 

Recently I was teaching my daughter to drive. She was doing quite well but was extremely nervous. I knew she was nervous because she was talking nonstop; whereas I was speaking only to tell her to: watch for cars pulling out and entering our lane, be alert to errant balls followed by children, and make sure she comes to a complete stop at stop signs.

As I was saying, she was constantly talking. “Am I far enough away from the car in front, Dad?” she would ask. “How’s my distance from the side of the road. Oh my god, there are so many cars on this street. Why are there so many cars? Do you think I’m ready for the highway, yet?”

You might think I was annoyed with this barrage of chatter. Well I wasn’t. You see, my daughter doesn’t talk a lot; she’s sort of like me. So when I get to hear her talkative side I grab it like a greedy child grabbing candy. I will say that I often asked her to cut down the excessive talking so she could focus more on the road. But suddenly she became calm and started talking about substantial stuff.

“I talk a lot when I’m nervous, Dad.” I knew this about my daughter. “But I don’t talk a lot around my friends. And sometimes I feel stupid. I’m not like Sidney who can talk about anything. I’m not good at making small talk. And this makes me feel stupid. But I don’t want to talk about just anything; I like to talk about things that interest me. I think I’m a ‘big’ introvert.”

Whoa, where did this come from? Doesn’t like small talk? Prefers to talk about things of interest? Thinks she’s an extreme introvert? So I played along because anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite topics is introversion.

Introverts prefer depth over breadth when conversing. 

“You know, honey,” I begin. “There’s nothing wrong with preferring to have deeper conversations—like what we’re having now. This is how introverts prefer to converse; they like that one-on-one dialog. Is that how you feel?”

“Yeah, that’s like totally it. I like deep conversations. I’m not interested in some of the topics my friends talk about. Sometimes I feel stupid because I don’t jump in on the conversation. It’s like a competition with my friends. That’s why I think I have more friends who are boys.”

I had to jump in. “Girls can be catty right? Are you saying boys don’t talk as much?”

“Totally. With my guy friends it’s not like a competition to see who can talk the most or say the coolest things. I don’t know how they do it, the ones who can talk forever. Like Steph. Everyone loves her because she makes everyone feel special. Britt too.” Moment of silence, which I didn’t want to lose. “Do you think I’m a freak, Dad?” Oh no my dear, I thought, you’re an introvert, a very special person.

I didn’t want to go into that small talk is sometimes difficult for introverts because our time to process our thoughts is more delayed.

“I like to listen,” she continued. Sometimes I just listen to some of the stupid things they talk about. And I think, ‘how stupid that is.’ I don’t want to judge, but…like really? I’m a real ‘big’ introvert, right? If I think what my friends are saying is stupid, is it wrong not to join the conversation?”

I told my daughter, “You see, how you’re describing your friends makes me think that they are more extraverted than you. Extraverts are energized by being with people and talking to them in order to re-charge their batteries.”

“That’s right,” she said. “I get tired sometimes when I’m with a group of people. It’s like I need a break. It all seems like a competition. Who can say the most. With guys it’s not like that. Sure there are some that talk more than others. But for the most part, they listen to what each other says.”

I wondered if the willingness to give and take is a gender thing.

“You, on the other hand,” I interrupted, “like deeper conversations that mean more to you. They don’t happen often, maybe rarely for some, but when they do, they’re great. Like the one we’re having now, right?”

“Yeah,” she continued, “This is good. This talk we’re having. It’s like we can drive in the car and not say much but at other times we talk a real lot. I like our conversations…..So, do you think I’m ready for the highway?”

Before I knew it we were approaching the highway. I had never taken her on the highway, but she seemed lucid and was driving like a pro. So we took the highway home and survived. Why would I have thought differently.

When we got home, I administered an MBTI assessment to her. It turns out that my daughter is a moderate introvert, slight sensor and thinker, and clear perceiver.

“Congratulations, honey, you’re an introvert like your ole man,” I told her. I’m afraid she’s worried about being an introvert, but she’ll realize how special she is.

Note: this post was enjoyable to write. I wrote one on an introverts idea of a great vacation. Check it out.

Photo: Flickr, Michael Jimmy Ellas