June 17, 2022

Introversion: How to Leverage What You Got, and Be Confident About It.

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Posted by Sharmarke Hujale

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6 min read

For some reason, we have come to misunderstand what an introvert is. We have come to understand from a young age that an introvert is someone shy or someone that has social anxiety, and can’t interact with other people. 

And because there’s this view on introverts, we feel scared to engage with other people — simply because of the story that has been told in our head. That negative story that we tell ourselves, will have an impact on our growth. 

What can we do as introverts to gain confidence in who we are, and leverage the power of introversion in our everyday life?  

The first step is to understand what an introvert is. Language matters. If we can’t educate ourselves first about what introversion is, we can’t educate others about it. 

It’s about preferences

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking says, “It’s also important to understand that introversion is different from shyness. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, while introversion is simply the preference for less stimulation.” 

An introvert is characterized by gaining energy from being alone or among smaller gatherings. Where an extrovert is characterized by gaining energy from larger gatherings. Introverts are usually more thoughtful and value time for reflection and contemplating — and they are also good at work that requires concentration and focus. 

Whether someone is introvert or extrovert it all boils down to preferences. And no preferences are better or worse. We should all feel like we can use our strengths in an environment where we can thrive as ourselves. 

When we shift our mindset into believing that being an introvert is not a hindrance, will we start to see the possibilities that we couldn’t see before. 

You can have a big personality and still be an introvert. You can be sociable with people and still be an introvert. You can become a leader and still be an introvert. The only difference between an introvert and an extrovert is, that an introvert takes more time to open up to other people. Which isn't a bad thing.

What we want more than anything is to create deep, meaningful relationships where we feel safe to be ourselves. 

Harnessing the power within 

Like all people, we have strengths and weaknesses. More time than often we are told to work on our weaknesses to thrive. A better idea is to be aware of our weaknesses, but put more focus and effort on the strengths we do have so that, we can improve and grow. 

Here are some strengths that come more naturally to introverts:

Active listening 

A typical Introvert processes information internally, where a typical extrovert processes information through interactions (thinking out loud) with others. That means that this skill of active listening allows us to hear, understand and provide insights when the other person is done talking. And in a social context — the art of listening is crucial — even for a leader to make the other person feel heard, seen, and understood. 

Observant of surroundings 

Having the skill to actively listen to other people, introverts also have a natural tendency to notice the so-called “little things” like reading the room, people’s body language, and facial expressions. By observing and noticing other people — an introvert is good at giving other people who have thinking and processing information — the space to do it. A great skill to have when you want to connect more deeply with others. 

Thinking before speaking

In a fast-paced environment, it can take a little bit challenging for an introvert to formulate thoughts for others. Because we also want to contribute with ideas and insights. Thinking before speaking is a great strength to have since the words that are coming out are more intentional. What the author of Quiet Susan Cain suggests to introverts to not feel left out in meetings — is to speak up early. How does the thinking-before-speaking apply to speaking early up in meetings? She says, “think in advance of what you might want to say, what point you might want to make, and what questions you want to raise.” If you wait till the end of the meeting — it gets a little harder to get your ideas and insights through since the ideas that are mentioned early on become the anchor of the conversation.

Meaningful connections 

For an introvert, being among a big crowd is energy draining. But we have a natural strength to create meaningful connections. The goal is not to talk to as many people as possible. The goal is to focus on learning about the other person — even if it’s just a few. Creating a lasting impact is more important than quick, meaningless conversations. So how do you do that? Beth Buelow, the author of The Introvert Entrepreneur talks about how she tries to make meaningful connections with some people by following up. She would after an event send links to articles or talks that reminded her of the person she spoke to. This is a way for you to create a valuable relationship based on depth and meaning. We would rather have a small circle of close friends with who we will show intense trust and loyalty. 

Empathy 

Having the natural skill of active listening, reading the room, and the desire to create meaningful relationships results in greater empathy. The ability to put yourself in the shoes of other people is a valuable skill that can be applied to almost any profession. For a leader — it’s a great skill to have — if you care about the people around you. 

Working in solitude

Introverts love going into deep thinking to organize thoughts and ideas. A very noisy environment might hinder the creative process. We become more productive when we have the space and room to think independently. A famous example is Albert Einstein that did his thought experiments in solitude. We all need to feel that we can be productive at the end of the day. This doesn't mean that we always should work in solitude, but it’s important finding the balance between collaboration and independent work. The strength of an introvert will show — when we get the time to think alone, collect our thoughts, and then return back to the team with ideas and solutions.


Final thoughts 

You as an introvert—give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. You might have been building on these strengths unconsciously without even you know it. And now that you do know it. You have the opportunity to share what we introverts are capable of. Having these natural strengths can make us great leaders, artists, creatives, writers, inventors, scientists, engineers, and philosophers. Let this article be a source of optimism and inspiration — a spark to make you feel comfortable and confident in being an introvert.

If you ever feel like you need a boost, please read this article again. For your own sake. If you know another introvert who needs this, share it. We all need to uplift each other to survive so that we can live in a more inspired, valued, and joyful world. 

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