How To Flourish As An Introvert In An Extrovert World

It’s tough being an introvert in an extrovert world.

People may not notice you as much as they do your more extroverted colleagues. You may be that quiet achiever who dutifully listens and takes notes in meetings and is thinking really sensible stuff. You need time and space to do all that, preferably away from the crowd and the chatter. You have ideas to contribute and you can easily think of 3-5 ways the team can improve the way it does things now. But you also want to be perfect – to get it right and to feel 100% certain – before you speak up. This costs you opportunities to be visible and your name doesn’t seem to be quite as front of mind for the purposes of collaboration, advancement, and leadership. You start to think there must be something wrong with you, that you’re somehow not good enough.

That may be your current reality.

Here’s how to tweak it so you feel (and look) more like a participant and change-maker instead of a passive bystander.

Act Like You Have Something Valuable To Say.

Stop waiting for permission to change, fix, or improve things.

Notice what’s lacking and what can be done better.

Speak up. (Start by speaking about smaller things that you have ideas or opinions about – you don’t have to wait till there is a complex policy issue being discussed.)

Share your ideas. (If it’s intimidating to do this in a large meeting, practise in your team or with a trusted colleague.)

Ask questions. (If you are afraid of appearing ignorant, ask a clarifying question about someone else’s presentation or comment. Often, there are others in the room who have the same question in their mind, and you are doing them a service by vocalizing your uncertainty. Asking questions also serves to make you look like an active and engaged participant. )

Progress Is Better Than Perfection.

If you’re constantly missing out on opportunities to contribute to meetings, ask yourself if it’s because you spend too much time perfecting in your head what you want to say.

Get comfortable with the discomfort of not always having an elegant, articulate, or impressive-sounding sound bite at hand.

The more you practise, the better you will get at knowing the right thing to say and expressing yourself in ways that are authentic to you as well as effective.

Trust Your Intuition

Introverts are often deep listeners who pick up things not noticed by others.

Intuition pays a large part in this, and by trusting your intuition to supply the right answers at the right time, you open the way to creative, surprising, and powerful ways of sharing your wisdom and insights with others.

Follow these three suggestions and notice how others’ perception of you begins to shift subtly. In your own quiet way, you too can start to project your unique presence and be seen as a contributor and influencer.