When it came to parent teacher evenings, all my teachers said the same thing about me, “She needs to speak up more.” Today’s society celebrates speaking up in a variety of forms, but for introverts this can be easier said than done.
In today’s blog I’ll delve into what it means to be an introvert and how you can embrace and work it to your advantage.
So, first off – what is an introvert?
Rather than the simplified ‘loud or quiet’ labels typically associated with introverts and extroverts, these personality types describe where people get their energy from. Someone with introvert tendencies will draw energy from alone time.
This means that while they may enjoy socialising, it can exhaust them after a while. Alternatively those who identify more with extroversion gain energy from being around other people.
These personality types also process things in a different way. For example, an extrovert processes verbally and benefits from talking out loud, while introverts are more internal and may prefer to write things down. There is a sliding scale and a lot of people identify with both personality types, making them ambiverts. There are plenty of personality tests online to help you figure out where you sit on the scale.
How to work your introversion
Modern life with its fast pace and 24/7 mentality seems to favour extroverts. At work we are praised for being vocal and boasting about our accomplishments. When we meet new people, those who speak often and freely tend to be the centre of attention.
Below we look at how you can work your introvert traits to your advantage at work, when socialising, dating and in your relationship.
Many introverts find they work better when focusing on one task at a time. I write myself a to-do list at the start of the day and work my way through. Of course sometimes other things come up that aren’t on the list, but as long as I stay focused on one task at a time, I remain on track.
Being prepared for meetings is also essential for me. Even if it’s just a page of handwritten notes, it helps boost my confidence if I have my thoughts down on paper first. In meetings introverts tend to sit back and listen to other people’s points before chiming in. This can be advantageous, so don’t feel pressure to speak up immediately just ensure when you have a point to make you do make it.
Attending parties or even networking events can be draining for introverts. Try to schedule in ‘recharge sessions’ of alone time. If your calendar is full of social events, schedule in some time to yourself, even if this means you have to say no to some of your commitments. I try and have at least one evening to myself during the week and a couple of days/weekends a month where I have no plans. This just helps me to recharge.
At networking events, you could escape outside or even to the bathroom if you begin to feel drained. Try some breathing techniques and take a moment to process your thoughts.
Dating can be a scary experience for anyone, but many introverts struggle with small-talk so it can be even harder. Introverts tend to prefer in-depth discussions, so use this to your advantage and try to steer the conversation to something more substantial.
In your relationship
Whether you’re in a relationship with a fellow introvert or an extrovert it’s important to recognise and account for your differences. For example, if you’re dating an extrovert, you may need to compromise on how often you socialise, so you’re both happy.
Introverts and extroverts also have very different arguing styles. Introverts are more likely to shy away from confrontation and may appear disinterested during a fight, when in fact they are simply processing the information internally. Extroverts on the other hand are more vocal and can get frustrated when this isn’t reciprocated. Learning more about each other and how you both think will help to avoid misunderstandings.
Many life coaches are well-versed in personality types and can help you play to your strengths.