I have a friend, let’s call him Gordon. Gordon has always been a bit of an introvert. He’d rather listen than talk, dreaded group projects in school, and was always talking himself out of trying new things. Gordon knew that to succeed in life, he would have to overcome all of his fears. Although he still struggles with some of them daily, he has come an awful long way. He told me that there were several things that helped him get past his fears and become a successful employee and manager.
- Learn To Tune Negative You Out – Now don’t take this wrong. This doesn’t mean ignore your intuition or conscience. Just ignore your negative self-talk. Don’t let you get to you. Gordon constantly reminded himself how he wasn’t smart enough or qualified enough, and had to realize that maybe he was perfect for the positions; he just needed to believe in himself.
- Focus on Your Strengths – Don’t focus on your weaknesses, but your strengths. Remind yourself why you are good at what you do every day. Build on those strengths, and soon your strengths will over shadow any weaknesses you have.
- Surround Yourself with Teammates – Everyone you choose to be around you should be on your team. If someone isn’t helping you stay positive, is dragging you down, or is making you depressed about your situation, get away from them. You can’t do much about co-workers or bad managers, but you can choose friends, so choose wisely.
- Always Have a Plan – Introverts can easily be overwhelmed, and especially in situations when they are forced to react quickly. This isn’t because they are inept, it is simply because they like to take time to view the whole situation and make the best possible plan of action after determining all the facts. Gordon found that always having a pre-made plan, including “having a plan for when there is no plan” helps ease the stress of an emergency or last minute issue.
- Know Your Target Audience – Whether you work with a certain type of a customer, or in a certain field of employees, know your audience. As an introvert, this can help you adapt and predict reactions to information. The more you know about your audience the more likely you are to communicate well with them. Since communication is such a difficult milestone for introverts, you have to do all you can or else you will stumble over your words like a nervous middle school student giving their first oral report.
- It’s Okay to be Confident – Introverts tend to shy away from compliments and even have trouble accepting a “thank you”. Gordon said learning to accept a compliment from a coworker or Manager was one of the hardest things to learn. His negative self-talk was so bad, that he would even correct people who complimented him that they must be mistaken, and that he certainly wasn’t worthy. Building confidence is key to succeeding in the workplace, and that includes graciously accepting kind words from your peers.