Dear Introverts

I’m writing to you today because I want to tell you how much I appreciate – and understand – you. And because I have a few thoughts and ideas that might help you converse and connect with greater effectiveness, ease, and confidence. So here goes. 

  1. Give yourself some credit and believe in yourself.  I have numerous friends who are introverts (I’m half introvert myself) and regularly meet with, speak to, and coach them.  They are some of my favorite clients and friends!  One gentleman I met recently at a conference reception was possibly one of the most charming people in the crowd. (The extroverts were getting loud and it was too much for me.)  His biggest issue? Self- confidence. Despite his low opinion of himself,  I found him pleasant, engaging, and authentic; three traits that are very attractive when it comes to conversing.  This man told me that one of his biggest challenges was finding things to talk about with others; finding common ground and shared interests.  I gave him some ideas for conversation-generating questions. I also advised him that, when at a loss for something to say, remember that people always find a good listener charming.  I also told him he needed to find and build a tribe of friends who shared his interests, which would help him see how energizing and fun socializing can be.  How to do this?  Attend events or join groups where people who share your interests gather.  Like to read? Join a book club.  Enjoy gourmet cooking?  Take a cooking class.  Relish the outdoors? Go on a group hike or adventure.  You get the idea.
  2. Just because seclusion and social safety feel good, please don’t linger there.  I understand that your natural state – the places where you are most comfortable and where you recharge your battery – are in solitude or with people who make you feel comfortable. I’m in that space right now after a busy start to 2017 and as I work on my next book. That’s awesome that you know that about yourself!  But please don’t isolate yourself too much. It’s deadly for your health, well-being, your relationships (you become a needy and tedious bore!), and your career.  What’s easy and comfortable isn’t always what’s best.  Stretch a little. Create some goals for yourself, such as attending at least one or two social events a week, making a handful of new connections, or calling friends you’ve not seen or spoken to in awhile.  Be courageous, consider the possibilities and opportunities that await you, and I bet you’ll find that it’s a refreshing change.
  3. Please stop using your introverted tendencies as an excuse to neglect your social responsibilities.  Hey, I’m not a math whiz, but I know that I have to balance my checkbooks and do some basic number work in order to function in my daily life.  And as a cyclist I hate hills, but I live in the Hill Country of Central Texas.  Some things you just can’t avoid.  Same goes for networking skills and social graces.  If these are your weak areas, you know where you need to do some learning and place some effort. (Hey! I know a great book that would help you!)
  4. Don’t let your shyness be mistaken for haughtiness. Did you know that your introversion, shyness, and any other hesitancy to introduce yourself or talk to others can cause others to see you as unfriendly, snobby, or even full of yourself?  It’s true. When you are among people, especially at a networking or social event, it’s actually your duty (according to social etiquette experts) to greet those who are in your immediate proximity and to introduce yourself.  It’s not about how you feel in others’ presence; it’s about how they feel in your presence. I’ll be honest and say that the only thing worse than conversing with someone who talks too much is being with someone who seems aloof and disinterested and doesn’t hold up his end of the conversation!  If you’ve leaned on your introversion as an excuse for not learning or using social skills, it’s time to be an adult and change that.
  5. Worth repeating: some of the most lovable and popular people on the planet are introverts!  Personally, I find them charming, funny and humble. Again, they are good listeners and wonderful advisors. When they have something to say, they’ve often chosen their words carefully. The phrase “still waters run deep” describes the experience. They are good observers and balance the energy of the lively and sometimes overwhelming extroverts in the room, providing a beautiful oasis of calm and refreshing conversation (or silence). As an ambivert, I find this wonderful.
  6. Here’s to you, my introverted friends!

Want to learn more? Stay with me as a subscriber as I create blogs that answer the questions that my audiences and readers see as their biggest networking and social challenges.  And if you haven’t read The Intentional Networker,  the award-winning field guide to being more purposeful,  polished, present and productive as you connect with others, get yourself a copy here.  It’s a life-changer and the perfect easy, yet powerful summer read.

8 Responses to Dear Introverts
    June 20, 2017 | 11:39 am

    I appreciate the encouraging ideas, Patti! I’m guilty of staying within my comfort zone (it’s such a nice place), so appreciate the reminder to set some goals to get out of it more often.

    • pattid
      June 20, 2017 | 1:13 pm

      Thanks, Susan. Yes, it’s so easy to stay isolated. But it’s not where the fun is!

  2. Mike O'Krent
    June 20, 2017 | 11:49 am

    Great article, Patti. Your advice is well-taken.

    P.S. I’m guessing the gentleman introvert you referenced in point #1 was not me. Was it? 😉

    • pattid
      June 20, 2017 | 1:11 pm

      Not you, Mike! And thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Forrest Lamb (ENTJ)
    June 20, 2017 | 4:23 pm

    Patti I feel you. I’m an ENTJ and can get quite loud (smile) with that rowdy extrovert crowd. However as a Certified MBTI Practitioner, with an Introvert wife and daughter, I’ve grown a great deal of respect and appreciation for that Introvert charm. In addition I’ve learned how to temper my personality type to better take advantage of our collective strengths. I apply the 10 second rule which allows my wife sufficient time to process my extrovert data stream of information. Yes my wife and daughter are great listeners and I really appreciate that. It builds my confidence and capability as a well rounded extrovert. Thank for your great commentary! Can I get more?

    • pattid
      June 20, 2017 | 9:55 pm

      Appreciate this comment! Glad you find a nice extrovert / introvert balance. Thanks and trust me there is more info coming!

  4. Donna O'Klock
    June 20, 2017 | 6:57 pm

    Beautiful article, Patti! I’m going to reread your book, and make an effort to get out more to connect with my peeps!
    Thank you.

    • pattid
      June 20, 2017 | 9:53 pm

      Thank you, Donna! Thinking I need to reread my book, too!

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