By ELIZABETH LIM
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For an introvert, the working world seems loud, brash and sometimes almost unbearable.
In the corporate world where being seen and heard is the order of the day, and being a go-getter almost guarantees success, our preference (i.e. the introverts) of being quiet, diligent and contributing without being seen seems to be the antithesis to our success.
We often ask the extroverts to be more reflective, to listen more and to think through their actions. Perhaps it’s also time for us to reflect and ask ourselves if we can do more of the things that do not come naturally to us, for the sake of our own personal development.
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Make yourself seen
How do we deal with the dread of attending company events especially those that require us to network with strangers and require us to make small talks with others?
What we could do is to harness the desire in us to complete self-driven tasks by setting ourselves realistic targets, for example, to meet five new people, talk to them and collect their business cards. That should give us focus for the event, which takes our minds off the fear of the crowd.
The introverts’ preference to listen rather than speak would serve us well at this task, possibly also endearing us to those whom we had manage to connect with. As much as we dislike large gatherings and small talks, it helps to remember that no man is an island, and that we need to be connected to a larger scheme of things.
To cope, we can find one or two close colleagues and tag along with them. And if possible, make an extra effort to get to know one or two more people. Who knows, we might even end up enjoying the gathering ourselves.
Make yourself heard
Introverts need to learn to speak up more and contribute their ideas, instead of just waiting for others to do so.
It might seem uncomfortable to listen to ourselves speak initially, but the more we practise, the better we get at it. It helps if we go to meetings fully prepared, maybe with some points that we’ve jotted down to remind ourselves of what we would like to say.
Stand up and breathe
We must also remember to promote ourselves so that we stand a chance to receive the rewards and promotions for our contributions. If we find that talking about ourselves is too high a mountain to conquer, I’d personally suggest that we find people who could vouch for us. Ask for references from bosses and clients that you have worked with, and use that whenever necessary.
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Should we decide to stick very religiously to our scheduled plans no matter what comes our way, introverts can definitely learn to relax a little in a world that is constantly in flux, and adjust our plans accordingly. It helps if we leave 20– 30% room in our schedules for changes and not stress ourselves out when our ‘perfect’ original plans were disrupted.
There are other little things that might make our working lives a little more manageable, such as to engage our bosses and colleagues and help them understand how we would like to work. It could range from finding those quiet spots in the office where we are able to hear ourselves think and getting our work done without any phone distractions.
This year, I urge all introverts at work (me included!) to be a little braver, and engage the world around us, and maybe surprise them with our wisdom, wittiness, originality and creativity.