Being introverted is not something to worry about and it does not make you “less good” than extroverts you may know/ see/ hear about. Despite knowing that (in their head), many introverts worry about issues which they are able to deal with. Here’s ten fears of introverts and how to get over them and stop worrying that you’re limiting your potential.
Introvert and extrovert are a spectrum
Introvert/ extrovert is not a binary switch, it’s a spectrum and there are many other personality traits which overlap with the introvert/ extrovert spectrum. These other traits (e.g. shy) may affect how effective commonly proposed “solutions” are for different people.
Introverts have many skills
It sometimes seems that today’s society is designed for extroverts and that can lead to a desire to change or copy their behaviour. Introverts have a huge number of talents and can make amazing leaders, managers, business owners, or salespeople. The trick is firstly to focus on the talents you have, then identify small areas you need to slowly adapt.
10 fears of introverts
- My mood may vary and sometimes I feel am more outgoing, although it’s tiring. The feeling of losing energy in company is one of the key things about an introvert, learn how to manage it. It’s good that you sometimes feel more outgoing.
- I am only comfortable keeping up a conversation when I am comfortable with a person. This is very common for introverts (and is reported by some extroverts too). The reasons for feeling comfortable, or not, may vary and who likes speaking to somebody they don’t like? Introverts don’t tend to enjoy small talk, often happens when two people that don’t know each other interact (you can make small talk easier). Introverts are good listeners and if you use that to ask good questions it’s possible to deflect attention from you to the other person. Overall, refocus the conversation, and if it doesn’t last too long, don’t worry.
- I often feel I can’t interject in a discussion, despite having lots of knowledge on the subject. This can feel very frustrating, specially when other people say things you mildly disagree with. One technique that plays to the strengths of introverts is the summary. Take a quieter place in the conversation, summarise the points you’ve heard. This allows others to focus themselves, which they’re grateful for. It also allows you to then add your own view, or ask a question, if you wish to. Read “How to feel more confident joining in conversations, as an introvert”
- I tend to observe (follow) on social media rather than join in, even when I have lots to say on the subject. Many introverts liken social media to a sea of noise, the same as, or worse than being in a large conversation. They tend to avoid such “noisy” discussions, fearing they’ll get swept into the noise if they contribute. Lots of social media discussion is irrelevant nonsense, so let’s remove that from the equation first. If it’s an important subject, add your thoughts and having contributed, you could always unfollow the conversation, or control the amount of times you dip back into it.
- I have few friends and the ones that I have are great. When I’m with these close friends I am absolutely myself. This is common for introverts. If somebody was to watch me among my close friends, when I have the desire to talk, they’d imagine me to be very extroverted. Keep in touch with these close friends, don’t “lose them”, include others into this circle when it feels right to slowly increase the range of close friends.
- Sometimes I strike up great conversations with strangers while out walking. This is a great skill for an introvert, it may be because you’re both sharing something common (the walk, the view, the wildlife etc), or you’re relaxed. Having a common interest can make it much easier to start a great conversation, and walking can make it easy to exit it too (thus relieving the pressure to keep talking).
- I wish I had more friends. Don’t overlook the amazing friends you’ve already got! Take small steps to get more over a long time. Look for opportunities where you share a passion for something with others (hobbies, clubs etc), this can be a comfortable way to get more friends. Observe others at work that exhibit introverted behaviour, you may be able to help them (support them in meetings, tell others how good they are), or slowly get to know them.
- I feel I’m limiting my true potential. If you’re trying to be somebody you’re not, then you are limiting yourself. Think about the skills you have and ensure you’re maximising those first. Then go on to extend your networking skills, where networking is about close contacts, rather than general forced conversation with others you don’t enjoy as much.
- Sometimes I torture myself about the opportunities I’ve wasted because I’m antisocial. Introverts are not antisocial, they have the skills to socialise they simply do it differently. Focus on what you do well rather than torture yourself.
- Is there anything wrong with this behaviour? No, there’s nothing wrong with this behaviour. Many aspects of it are typical introvert behaviour. You might not change your basic nature but can, with practice, extend your comfort in interacting with others.
I would really appreciate three minutes of your time to understand your views of extroversion, introversion and how (if?) they affect performance in business.