INTROVERTS – HOW TO OWN YOUR VOICE AT WORK
Do you feel emotionally drained after you are done with work? Or does interacting with a large group of people in the office make you feel overwhelmed?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, there is a good chance that you may be an introvert. While extroverts have a more outgoing personality and are more energized when they are around a large group of people, introverts tend to be more reserved and feel the most energized after they had some time alone, to recharge and process their thoughts and ideas. They also prefer to have authentic one-on-one conversations versus mingling in a large crowd and participating in small talk.
Introverts may face additional hurdles on the job because many companies tend to reward people who show more social, high-energy traits. Although introverts aren’t the loudest people in the room, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any thoughts or opinions about what is going on in their workplace. People who lean more towards an introverted personality type can also be a great asset to their company. Introverts usually have impeccable analytical and observational skills that allow them to read the room better than anyone. Since they usually have a rich, active imagination they can easily come up with innovative ideas to solve a problem or workplace crisis. However, they may not feel comfortable or confident enough to share it openly in a public setting.
As an introvert myself, I’ve found a way to conquer my fear and speak up more often. Although I admit I’m still a work in progress, here are several techniques I’ve learned along the way to get me to where I am now:
1. Prepare Yourself as Much as Possible
One of my first tips is to do what you can to prepare yourself as much as possible. For example, if you are about to go to a work meeting, ask to see if there is an agenda prepared so you can take a look at it beforehand. You can also check to see who will be in attendance. When you take some time to learn who will be there and familiarize yourself with the topics that will be discussed during the meeting you will feel a lot more at ease before the meeting even begins.
If you want to contribute to the meeting, carefully go through the agenda and select which topics you’d like to discuss. Make a mental note of what you want to contribute or write it down if you think you may get nervous once it’s your turn to speak. Even if you only want to ask one question or re-emphasize someone else’s point, it demonstrates to others that you are engaged and can improve your visibility.
2. Don’t Overthink or Censor Yourself
When you speak up at work, try to do it early on so you won’t have too much of a chance to overthink what you’re about to say. I know firsthand how tempting it is for introverts to spend too much time mulling over what you’re going to say, but please don’t do that! If you overthink things you may end up censoring yourself.
I personally like to use humor to break the ice whenever I have to talk to a group of people or do public speaking, so I always come prepared with a couple of funny jokes, comments, or questions. However, if jokes aren’t your style you can always come up with your own strategies for breaking the ice or reducing the nervous tension you may feel.
3. Be Concise and to the Point
Please don’t worry about giving long, flowery speeches when you want to speak up at work. Rambling on and on about a topic can eventually turn your audience off and make them tune you out.
Try to be as concise and to the point as possible without coming across as unprofessional or ill-prepared. Everyone’s time is valuable so your coworkers will most likely thank you for your brief yet insightful comments. Besides, if you’ve followed step number one and organized your thoughts beforehand, and prepared what you wanted to say you will never run the risk of rambling.
4. Get a Partner in Crime
Another technique that has allowed me to excel in the workplace as an introvert is finding a ‘partner in crime’. Try to make friends with someone who won’t mind encouraging you to speak up more during company meetings. Maybe you can make a deal with them in advance to nudge you during the meeting to prompt you to speak up and join in on the conversation. Depending on where you work, this ‘partner in crime’ could be a close colleague, boss, or anyone else who is generally invested in seeing you grow outside of your comfort zone.
5. Take Time to Process Your Thoughts and Next Action Steps
Lastly, remember to take some extra time to process your thoughts and decide what your next action will be after you’ve spoken up at work. What is your main goal? What do you want to achieve? It could be securing a one-on-one with a specific person in that meeting, or perhaps you’re thinking about moving to a different department and want to talk with another colleague in that division to find out what it’s like? Perhaps you can send a follow-up email to that person asking to schedule a separate conversation in the near future.
Once you understand what you’d like to accomplish your end goal, you should have a clearer idea of what your next action steps should be.
You may not be comfortable putting yourself out there and using your voice at first as an introvert. However, I’m confident that with practice it will become less awkward and you will feel more relaxed at ease in no time. Before you know it, everyone will be excited to hear your voice and looking forward to hearing your contributions!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gladys Simen – a life coach for moms who are trying to balance their work and family life.
She is a life enthusiast who lived in 5 different countries, mastered 2 languages, and changed several professions. It took becoming a fabulous mama for her to tap into some BIG superpowers within herself.
Former quiet introvert, today is passionate about helping women live big, beautiful, shooting-for-the-stars kind of lives right now. Gladys considers herself an advocate for the working mama!