In western culture, extroverted personalities tend to be celebrated and promoted more so than their introverted counterpart. Organizations, especially in business, look for leaders who display an exuberant or loud demeanor as loud is often interpreted as confident and confidence as competence.. Of course that equation isn’t exactly accurate, but the bias still exists. So what can introverts do to get ahead in the business world when most of the executive ranks are dominated by those more outgoing?
Share Your Ideas
Introverts, those tend to be more introspective with their thoughts and prefer one-on-one communication, need to learn to highlight and work their strengths to the best of their ability. One of those traits is being a strong thinker with creative solutions. Businesses are run by ideas, so it’s important to share the ones you come up with. Don’t get in the way of yourself and make sure your ideas are contributed during meetings.
Listen to Colleagues
Listening is another primary skill that introverts typically possess. Listening is more than just hearing your colleagues words, it’s understanding their vision and being able to reiterate their perspective of things. Being able to listen well during meetings will help you get ahead when you clearly understand your team’s objective and where you are trying to get to.
Another strength introverts can utilize that may come as a surprise to some is networking. Many people believe that successful networking lies in the ability to strike up a conversation with strangers in order to get your name out there. In reality successful networking is only measured in building beneficial relationships with other people, particularly in business. Introverts tend to speak with people whom they share mutual acquaintances with, which also tend to be much more successful relationships in the long run.
Practice Public Speaking
Perhaps the most uncomfortable skill to work on is public speaking, but it is the most powerful thing an introvert can do to help themselves succeed in the business world. It may make you queasy to think about, but diving headfirst into speaking in front of a crowd (or at least a handful) of people will help ease you into talking in uncomfortable situations. Joining organizations such as Toastmasters will teach you the necessary and basic skills of public speaking to boost your confidence while in a group setting.
Don’t Let Extroverts Outshine You
While you’re working on your speech skills, begin to work on not letting the extroverts in the room take over all of the conversation. What can be a big downfall for introverts is letting their good ideas go unnoticed. Make sure to speak up during meetings if you do have something to contribute. If you struggle to get yourself motivated to speak and have the attention on you, it can help to “fake it until you make it”. Act as though you are an extroverted person for the times you need to be heard. Eventually sharing the spotlight should become easier the more you do it.
Although you may feel that extroversion is highly praised and valued, being an introvert can have its positives too. Diversity is what builds a great team and good business leaders will understand that, but it’s also important to be in a career that fits to your personality type. If business is your passion then nurture your drive to succeed with a confident foot forward.