Diary of an introvert: how to make a splash in a sea of go-getters

Posted on: October 16th, 2013

Do you prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities? Enjoy solitude and few interruptions or prefer to express yourself in writing? Chances are, you’re an introvert. But don’t worry, there’s lots of us out there – 1 in 3 in fact. I myself am proudly introverted and navigating my way through a world of bubbly, outgoing PR natives.

In my job, I can be the master of disguise; the hostess with the most-ess or the OTT social butterfly. Other times I’m just utterly me, squeezing in a brief chin-wag before it’s “OK team, going into my cave now.”

If you enjoy reading about personality types, you may have come across Susan Cain’s brilliant book Quiet. Since launching in 2012, the book has brought introversion to the agenda with the argument that it has become a second class personality trait. Susan says that in this world, to be great is to be bold and to be happy is to be sociable, believing that we’ve turned extroversion into an oppressive standard to which most of us conform.

At Stellar we have traditionally been an extraverted bunch, but with a growing population of introverts we are now a pretty evenly balanced office – a rare thing in an industry built on relationships. But how do us introverts stand out amongst the bold and outgoing? Susan believes that successful introverts are those that not only draw on their natural strengths, but also coach themselves to do things outside of their comfort zone. For me, that would be talking to a stranger, presenting to a large group or simply asking someone about their weekend.

The Thinker - introvert?
The Thinker – introvert?

Question is, should we have to do things that don’t come naturally? According to Susan, when you spend too much time battling your own nature, you deplete yourself. It’s all about cultivating the skills that introverts bring to the table and creating environments in which they can perform their best.

Here’s some things you might not know about introverts. And if you are one, you might relate:

  • There’s nothing more stimulating for introverts than getting lost in our own thoughts, and we think A LOT. An introvert loves to analyse, solve problems and challenge the norm.
  • We’re not shy; we just need a reason to interact. We’re also not one for small talk – us introverts don’t need to beat around the bush with social pleasantries. But get us talking about something we love and we’ll talk your ear off!
  • Contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t hate people. It might be a cautious, thought out process to call someone a friend, but we value our few friends more than anything in the world.
  • Going out in public is enjoyable, in small doses. It’s said that we take in experiences very quickly and don’t need to be out long to ‘get it’. If you’re like me, sneaking out early to catch some down time doesn’t feel unproductive – it’s necessary to recharge the battery.
  • Too much noise and talking and an introvert will get distracted, overwhelmed and start to shut down. An overstimulating environment can suck the energy out of an introvert and we’ll often resort to ‘zoning out’ to conserve energy.
  • Mentally preparing and gathering energy for a conversation is a normal part of an introvert’s day. This analogy from author Sophia Dembling says it all: “For an introvert, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go ‘BOO!’
  • We hate being the centre of attention and tend not to parade our knowledge or achievements. It can sometimes feel like this:

Introvert

If you’re not sure where you sit, you might like to take Susan’s Quiet Quiz to find out.

Now over to you. Do you think introverts often go unnoticed or are undervalued?

Posted by Ashley Gatte

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