In the working world of Alpha bosses and self-promotion – a place where loud and bold are lauded – being reserved can sometimes be seen as a weakness. But if you’re an introvert, you’re in good company: Steve Jobs, Hilary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg have all proved silence can be golden.
A TED talk on the power of introverts, by former New York lawyer Susan Cain, has been watched more than 17 million times. In it, she argues that quieter people are often more thoughtful, creative and make better bosses. Her subsequent book release, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is an international bestseller.
So rather than forcing yourself to fit the extrovert mould in the office, learn to embrace and hone your natural strengths – as an introvert, you’ll have plenty of them. Career coach Charlotte Billington explains how…
Embrace Being Quiet
Being quiet can actually give you an edge. When people are talking over each other in a meeting you have an opportune moment to really listen to what is being said; keeping quiet and then adding a considered point, fact or point of view in a calm, professional manner is a smart way to get attention.
Introverts can often be skilled observers with high emotional intelligence. Try to read into the personalities of who you’re liaising with and think about how they best process information, whether this be in visual or figure form; in person, via email or on a call and use it to your advantage.
Find The Right Role
It’s important for introverts to find the right role in the right environment for them. If they don’t feel comfortable, capable and happy in a job, long-term stress may start to appear. Focus on what you’re good at, what you enjoy and what work satisfaction you gain on a day-to-day basis.
Try Career Coaching
Consider some coaching – it’s effective at getting you to think about where you are and where you want to be. It can involve setting goals, tackling things like stress and confidence and focusing on what’s holding you back.
Whether it’s to learn techniques on becoming more assertive, or pick up tips on how to handle difficult colleagues, find the time to read relevant books. For those short of time, the app Blinkist condenses key points in credible non-fiction books into fifteen minute episodes.
Being more assertive is a case of being confident in your ability and what you have to offer – knowing your unique skills will help you in a strong vocal and extrovert environment. If you’re not sure what your skills are, What To Do Next? (£20, from Amazon) is a practical exercise book that can help.
Ahead of meetings or conversations with your boss, prepare what you want to say in advance and practice – when the nervous emotional nervous brain takes over, you’ll be on script. Have props if that helps. Think about liaising with a trustworthy colleague who might be able to assist you in putting your point forward or watching your back.
Act The Part
Try pretending you are a confident person – picture a mentor or someone you respect and are inspired by. Body language is key, so stand up straight, strike a self-assured pose and think how they would conduct themselves in your situation.
The more you do something, the more quickly it becomes a habit so start now. Set yourself some targets and you’ll soon be reaching them.