A few weeks ago, I wrote about how to work with introverts. Not to be one-sided, this post will provide some tips for introverts. After all, the world doesn’t have to cater to the needs of introverts. These tips are in the form of actions an introvert can take to work more effectively with others – be it introverts or extraverts.
Before I get into it, I again want to emphasize that introversion is a personality trait that stays stable throughout your life – and it is simply that. It is not something to be overcome. That being said, to be an effective leader, you must be able to adapt your style to attain the outcomes you want. Changing some behavioral patterns can be one of those small things that can have a big impact.
Introverts often need some time to work through a difficult problem or think things over before coming to a decision. Since people are not mind readers, this can sometimes be misunderstood. Extraverts—by definition who process information by talking—may mistakenly think that an introvert is indecisive, slow, lacking in social skills, or unwilling to collaborate. It is our human nature to make such judgments. It is unfair, but you can be proactive in managing the impressions that others have of you.
Create Alone Time
One thing you may or may not already do is to create breaks for yourself. You may do this reactively, as in, after you get overwhelmed. But you can be deliberate about it and prevent overwhelm in the first place. If your days are packed with interactions with others, insert breaks into your schedule.
For example, don’t schedule calls back-to-back – give yourself half an hour in between to process the things that were discussed, catch up on email, or read an article. Instead of skipping happy hour altogether, just show up thirty minutes late so you don’t miss out on important team bonding time. You can also plan quiet time before and after important meetings so that you can contribute without experiencing burnout.
Quick tips to be more effective:
- Write question down. This will facilitate your thought process because now you are interacting with a task/item rather than a person.
- Buy yourself some time: “Hmm, that’s a good question.” or “Let me think…” By doing this, you indicate to others to wait a second while you think it over.
- Ask, “Can I email that to you?” You can then provide the answer through the medium that puts you in the best light.
- Say, “I have some great ideas on that – let’s get together tomorrow to discuss further.” This will give you extra time to gather your thoughts.
- Take notes during meetings. This will show that you are engaged even if you are not actively speaking up all the time.
- Don’t apologize for being an introvert.