My name is Amanda and I have a confession to make: I am an introvert. Well, I like to call myself a “social introvert.” I can change my colors and morph into an extrovert if need be, but it’s not my true nature. But what’s frustrating is that during the times when I really need to become a bit more extroverted – say, an important meeting – that’s when I go back into my introverted shell.
Now, being an introvert isn’t a bad thing. Just recently, a few posts popped up on ITBE highlighting introverts and their importance in the workplace. As an introvert, I reveled in the recognition. Finally! Someone who appreciates introverts for our contemplative nature, I thought to myself.
However, despite the recent props to introverts, it still feels like an extroverted world. And to get ahead, it means introverts have to compromise and step outside of our comfort zone a bit.
An excerpt recently popped up on my desk that comes from the book, “Leadership Conversations: Challenging High Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders.” The excerpt is from Chapter 18, “Be Curious – Ask Great Questions.” It piqued my curiosity, because, as an introvert in those important meetings, I tend to have trouble vocalizing my questions.
The book is centered on those who strive to become good leaders, but I think the information provided in the excerpt can benefit just about anyone, no matter where they are in their career path.
For example, I found this statement in the chapter particularly helpful to get over my meeting hang-ups:
Questions unlock the door to collaboration, if you know what to ask and when. First ask yourself, “What information am I missing?” and then form your questions to collect that information.
As someone who prefers to kind of sit on the sidelines in meetings and take in the information (I know I’m not the only one here), it can be really difficult to jump in with a question. So having a starting point of first identifying the missing pieces is a great way to break the ice.
Introverts serve a very important role in any organization, and while we certainly don’t need to overhaul our personalities, becoming a more active participant in conversations will go a long way in building a career.