You're sitting at an insightful panel discussion. The audience is engaged, the room is packed and you see a few familiar faces. Then that deep breath, inhale and exhale moment hits... the event ends and you get to stand and meet people in the room.
Hello introverts! :-D
So of course naturally, you make a bee line towards the people you know or are familiar with. Then you find the nearest chair off to the side and try not to appear awkward while grabbing your phone to find something to scroll and look busy.
This was me a few weeks ago!
I'm going to gradually write a series on this topic, because I believe it would help so many that are misunderstood and others who just don't understand. Introverts are often misunderstood as push overs, shy, even presumptuous, weird, moody and so many other titles that many times don’t quite fit. Introverts, unlike extroverts, derive their source of energy internally instead of externally. This has it’s pros and cons if it isn’t recognized and balanced well. This doesn’t mean that introverts can’t display characteristics of an extrovert. It just means there’s usually a balance and a limit to an introvert’s need to… recharge if you will. More on that in a moment…
One of the things those close to me know very well is that I enjoy and need time alone. I’ve been in sales for most of my career (which contrary to popular belief, is a great field for introverts), and these experiences have helped me to have balance and strengthen the limit of my interaction with a diverse group of people. However, some that know me and have seen me “in action” would be surprised by my true introvert nature. This is important to note to be careful in assuming introverts can't perform well in seemingly extrovert roles and not to be confused by an introverts outgoing tendency and ability to turn on extrovert characteristics.
So, what are some signs to tell if you’re engaging with an introvert?
How to tell who is who:
1. Introverts observe the room before they engage. This doesn't mean he/she is stuck up, rude or even shy.
2. Introverts need alone time prior to presentations, interviews, performances, etc. Typically introverts reserve engaging with people until after their speaking endeavor.
3. Introverts are less likely to study in a group, and if they do they usually show up prepared and keep the group on task.
4. Their best ideas come when they are alone. You may notice them share they had a great idea while driving or having some thinking time alone.
5. You call/text/email introverts more than they initiate communication, but you usually seek them out to get their thoughts and feedback on decisions.
6. Small talk is usually very brief, then it's right on to the reason for the call/meeting. They also usually create the agenda to ensure the group completes all tasks.
7. Introverts usually express their feelings best after taking some time to think, by writing them out or with people who know how to engage best with them (stay tuned for that post!)
8. Alone time is necessary to recharge. This is especially true for introverts that have an outgoing career that may require a full day of engaging with others. Whether it is exercising, reading or taking the scenic route home after work, there is usually a solo buffer activity between engagement at work and at home to “recharge.”
Here are 2 great reads for my fellow misunderstood introverts and those that may want to do a better job of understanding:
Quiet Influence: The Introvert's Guide to Making a Difference by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Stay tuned for Introvert Influence II: How to maximize communication with/as an introvert.
I hope thing was helpful!
-Brittany, a true introvert, with outgoing tendencies and extrovert gifts. God is hilarious.