3 Ways of Speaking Up When You’re an IntrovertBy Homaira Kabir
In elementary school, there were 2 of us with the same first name. I was “the shy one.” And when you're labeled that early on in life, it’s difficult to ever believe otherwise.
Lucky for me, I learned at some point in my life that I wasn't really shy at all. I certainly had my share of fears, but never the fear of negative judgment or humiliation that underpins shyness. It turned out that I was an introvert, which meant that I had a preference for being quiet. I got my energy from within and not from the people around me.
If you're an introvert, you may relate to the lowered need for stimulation, the comfort of spending time alone, and the speed with which you tire of small talk. You may even be subjected to annoying observations about your lack of exuberance and your mellow emotional responsiveness. And if you are your kid's personal chauffeur, like I am, you likely also have to put up with constant complaints that you keep turning the music volume down. It’s no secret that introversion seems to be an undesired personality trait in a world where extroverts reign.
However, the traits you're criticized for are the very ones that allow introverts to focus and synthesize various streams of information into valuable ideas and creative new ways of making sense of the world. In the complex, interconnected, and chaotic world we live in, these ideas need your voice.
So how do you make your ideas heard when the loudest person gets the most airtime and draws the most laurels? Here are 3 evidence-based strategies that can help.
Connect Through Character
Over the past century or so, charisma seems to have turned the tables on character. Susan Cain, expert on introversion and author of Quiet, says that this is at least partly due to urban migration, which has led to extensive communities. Judging people based on character has become nearly impossible, and external traits have gained significance—a trend that's grown exponentially with the arrival of social media.
For introverts to shine in this new reality, they have to play by rules that work to their advantage. Charisma and personality are not their forte. They need to focus on building trusting relationships that empower them to speak up. This means a return to character, to sharing commonalities, to listening wi