Being an introvert in a world of extroverts

Image credit: Reflecting English
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In the last 48 hours, through several threads on here and BeBee, I have referenced my introversion. In a world where connections is the gateway to success, one has to be able to make connections, talk to people, make sales pitches, and to an extent, be people-driven.

There are people out there who naturally thrive on contact with people. Meeting new people is their coffee. Being the life of the party makes the endorphins work overtime. Being the center of attention puts them on cloud nine. I actually admire these people to an extent – many of them can take control of an audience and deliver a bold message.

I don’t dislike meeting people, but I need some kind of introduction first. Bonus points if I’ve interacted with you on social media and I can match up the name with the face.

I don’t dislike being at parties or other social gatherings, but I prefer to know someone, or attend with someone. Once I’ve been introduced to a few people and those people start gravitating to other circles, I tend to loosen up.

Being the center of attention does freak me out, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing some public speaking in college and arguing before a mock supreme court. My anxiety triples as I’m getting ready to do these things, but somehow I end up making a good performance in spite of it.

As an introvert, here’s what I bring to the business world:

  • I’m highly observant. I may not be able to tell if a woman is flirting with me, but if I feel like you’re trying to lowball me on negotiating a project, you will be shown the door.
  • When I’m given a project, I give it my all. In a previous position, I oversaw the overhaul of my department’s website including making sure that all copy was current, information was accurate, and making sure that the website conformed to both the ADA and university policy.
  • I loathe and despise drama like a root canal, but I promise you I could sniff out who the troublemakers are in your organization just by listening to conversations.
  • You’ve heard of the secret shopping industry? You’d be surprised how quickly I would show you how much noncompliance exists within your company.
  • While I was never a reporter or journalist, I can blog like one and be very objective in doing so. While I do have my biases, I can reasonably put them aside to deliver an objective outlook on a topic for the sake of informing others.

Given that my field of study is political science, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I am going to run for office. Between the public exposure you incur running for office, the constant spotlight, and doing public appearances for the sake of raising money and getting press coverage, I would probably fall apart by week two of my campaign.

Does this mean that if my brands launch into something greater, that I’ll never give an interview, do a podcast, or make a public speech? Of course not. Most interviews are shot in a small space with a few cameras and a production crew. Podcasts are often conducted where each participant is in a different area. Public speeches will be filmed and shared across social media, but you still get to maintain a fairly private life short of your fanbase encountering you in public.

My advice for fellow introverts: Don’t abstain from networking with the world on the grounds that it breaks your comfort zone. Part of growing yourself as a person is breaking that comfort zone to gain new experiences and learn new tolerances. Additionally, don’t feel as though you have to break out of your comfort zone in one massive swoop. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your transition and learning experiences will occur over time.

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About the author

Mike Rana

Mike Rana is one of those people who is hard to define, though he's not immune to being labeled for something. He likes to talk about many topics including technology, business, politics, education, psychology, and human behavior. In his spare time, Mike enjoys traveling, people watching, analyzing the world around him, writing about his life experiences, absorbing information from various social media channels, and trying to be the voice of reason in the political arena.