Introverts are cool, aren’t they?
It seems like Susan Cain helped the world to understand introverts better with her TED talk from 2012, but she also helped introverts understand themselves.
Introverts have many strengths. They are observing and compassionate, and they can definitely listen. They can be truly good in friendships.
However, they have a problem expressing their thoughts and feelings in front of other people, so that side of their character can put them in the shade at the workplace. That’s the environment where extroverts shine.
Due to their reserved attitude, introverts appear less confident than others. As a result, they give out the false impression that they are not competent enough to do the job. Employers give them fewer opportunities, simply because extroverts promote themselves better. Let’s see why that happens:
- When working on a team project, you do your job. You don’t try to tell people what to do, unless you’re giving advice they asked for. Even when you do that, you try not to hurt their feelings. This attitude doesn’t make you look like a leader.
- You have trouble giving presentations. Your heart trembles and you’re stressed out for days before and after the big event. When you speak in front of other people, you’re not confident in yourself. Thus, your words don’t sound as convincing as they should be.
- Gossip doesn’t interest you. You’re not that good at small talk. In fact, you absolutely hate small talk. You’re mysterious and withdrawn. That’s why you don’t fit well into the informal office environment.
In fewer words, you’re not exactly promoting yourself as a motivated worker.
Does that mean that introverts should always stay in the shade? Of course not!
In fact, an introvert can get really good at displaying confident attitude, which will lead them to career success. That’s the purpose of this guide: inspiring personal changes that will make you more successful in your profession.
A Guide to a Confident Professional Persona
Introverts may appear clumsy and shy in the eyes of others. However, they also have a great ability to notice details, good memory, and an ability to understand other people’s feelings.
You can use your strengths to become better in your profession, but you’ll also need to work on your weaknesses. Let’s get started with the practical tips.
Mind your posture.
Imagine the perfect boss getting into your office. How does he/she look like? Would you imagine them in a cringed position? That’s hardly how we expect successful people to look like. A confident person keeps their posture straight.
Research shows that the body posture not only affects the way people perceive you, but it also affects the confidence in your own thoughts.
Try this when you get into the office tomorrow:
- Straighten up. It’s easy. Walk with confidence. When you sit at your desk, keep your back straight. Your body language will make you look like a powerful person, but it will make you feel that way, too.
You have a beautiful smile. Show it to the world!
You want to be more sociable. You are friendly; it’s just that other people don’t know you are.
A simple, honest smile can break the ice between you and the rest of the team at work. When you smile first, others will have no other choice but to smile back. The exchange of such behavior makes subtle connections between people, and it boosts the trust they have in each other.
Smiling is evolutionarily contagious – people have an inner drive to smile back. A beautiful smile when you greet people in the office will instantly make you more approachable.
This is the hardest part. Most introverts share a common fear: they don’t like speaking in public, and they have trouble expressing themselves in front of a group of people.
This innate resistance can escalate to a state of social anxiety, which can prevent you from grabbing many opportunities in your life. We don’t want that to happen.
There is only one way to overcome the fear of speaking in public: do it! Face the fear. Push yourself into situations that require you to speak up.
When your boss or team leader asks “does someone have anything to add or ask?” use the opportunity to show you do have smart ideas.
Speaking, like any other skill, can be practiced. Yes, maybe your voice will be all shaken up when you do it for the first time. Maybe the second time won’t be any better. Does that mean you should just stop practicing? Absolutely not. At one moment, you’ll notice you’ve gotten better at it, and you’ll even surprise yourself with that fact.
Guess what: introverts can be great public speakers.
- They think before they speak.
- They focus on the message and don’t ramble around it.
- An introvert can analyze the audience and understand what they expect to hear.
You have all it takes to become a great speaker. All you need to do is practice, practice, and practice some more.
Do some networking.
Networking is one of the things that introverts love avoiding. Avoidance is not a good thing, since it makes you miss out on great chances.
In his Guide to Public Speaking for Introverted and Shy People, Jonathon Colman recommends building a safety structure. That structure gives you a reason to talk to other people and build your network of connections.
When you find yourself at a professional event and your instincts tell you to stand in the corner and have one drink after another until it’s finally time to go home, do something different: put yourself out there. “Hi, I’m Roy, the IT guy.”
That’s an easy thing to say, isn’t it? You’ll get an introduction back, and you can start trading job-related information and knowledge from there on.
Every situation at work comes with an expected structure. People behave in a certain manner and talk in a way that connects them all. You’re an introvert; you’re great at observing. Hack that structure and become part of it. Then, you can start interacting and networking.
Laugh in the face of challenge!
You love your comfort zone, don’t you? It makes you feel safe and complete. Any challenge outside of it is absolutely terrifying.
You know what? Challenges are inspiring, too! The more you overcome them, the more confident and complete you’ll feel.
Start with a small challenge: talk to the new guy at the office. Be friendly and invite him for a coffee during the break. Then, find a new challenge: present your awesome idea to the boss. Make yourself do it. Get into that office and speak up!
One by one, you’ll overcome your fears by answering to the challenges. And, you’ll be getting closer to professional success as you keep doing it.
Stop being the perfectionist who searches for the right place, time, and circumstances to say or do something. Straighten up, smile, speak, network, and accept challenges. Seems easy and scary at the first time, but guess what: you have more strength in you than you assume.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
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