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Is Being Introverted Something You Have to Live with?

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 by Positivevoice


Recently, I worked with a client who claimed to be an introvert. Our coaching session went something like this:

One of the first questions I asked was, “How does this manifest itself?” He replied “I find that I’m not being myself at work”. “Who are you being then?” I asked. “Good question”, he replied, smiling.

When we are not ‘being ourselves’, it is impossible for others to connect with us, which means that we, quite simply, don’t build strong relationships. At work, this can make it hard for people to:

  1. Get to know us
  2. Realise they like us
  3. Build trust

Which are often 3 of the key steps, which precede a promotion.

How can this be overcome?

If you ‘claim’ to be an introvert, one of the first things you need to do is break down this belief. Before you can do this, you need to fully understand what this term means:

Synonyms for introvert

noun person who retreats mentally

  • brooder
  • egoist
  • egotist
  • loner
  • narcissist
  • solitary
  • wallflower
  • autist
  • self-observer

Being introverted is simply a strategy. People who are introverted quite simply ‘retreat mentally’ and over observe themselves. As with all strategies, this can be un-learned and new patterns of behaviour can be practiced and perfected.

How to do this?

Once you are aware of your specific strategies (everyone is a little different). Take the opposite of this and begin to practice it.

For example:

If you are too focused on yourself, use the following exercises to break that pattern:

    1. When you are walking somewhere, instead of thinking or even worse ‘worrying’ about things, observe your environment. Focus in on the colour of the leaves on the trees, the insects buzzing around, the birds in the trees, people walking by you (notice what they’re wearing and the expressions on their faces). This exercise should be done at least once a day for at least a week before you notice any shifts. If you keep it up, it will soon become a habit.
    1. When you meet people for the first time, show a real interest in them; ask them simple questions: “What’s your name?”, “Where do you live?”, “What do you do for a living?”, “Where are you from?” These are just conversation starters, what you are looking for here is a common interest. ‘Oh, you live just outside Paris’. ‘What’s it like?’ “How does it compare to living in England?” “I’ve always wanted to live in France”. Almost everyone loves talking about themselves. The only people who might not are introverts, but the only thing worse than not being asked questions is the silence that forces a fellow introvert to start or maintain a conversation, and this, of course, causes pressure rather than flow. So, jump in quickly and start the meeting as you wish to go on!
    1. When you speak to people give them your undivided attention; notice the expression on their face, the clothes they are wearing and the tone of their voice.** Essentially, this is part of Active Listening

**Again, practice this exercise at least once a day, if not during every conversation you have. Keep this up for two weeks and you will start to notice changes emerging in how you feel.

 These three exercises work very well because they, quite literally, distract an introvert from over internalising their focus. Being introverted is a behaviour that has been learned. All you need to do to break this strategy is to do the opposite. It may feel unnatural to start with, but as always practice makes perfect.

Make it your mission to seek out sociable people who externalise their focus and notice how they do it. I learned this whole phenomenon by doing just this. I was in my early 20s and I was on work placement at Apple Computers. It wasn’t going majorly well, and I had become a little introverted. One day, I saw a young woman waiting in reception. She wasn’t sitting down thinking (or worrying), though. “Wow”, she exclaimed. “Those are gorgeous flowers”, “What are they?” This is all I witnessed of the exchange she had with the receptionist, but it was enough to make me wonder who he was. Shortly afterwards, she sat down at a desk very near mine. She was the new Head of Public Relations. I liked her immediately. She was completely herself with everyone; kind, smiley and genuine. I immediately felt lighter and more energized for the remaining weeks of my placement.

You see, by ‘being real’, you will inspire others to do the same and will find yourself ‘connecting better’ with everyone.

 Good luck! 





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