Introverts are a hot topic these days. It seems like everywhere you turn there’s another article about why INFJs aren’t really cold-hearted or how to make your INTP qualities work for you. I’m not here to add to the noise. I don’t really care what your Meyers-Briggs results reveal about you. I’m not interested in the deeper analysis of why you are the way you are. What I’m here to do is tell you the truth. You use your introversion as an excuse not to show up, speak up, or contribute authentically.
You use your introversion as an excuse not to show up, speak up, or contribute authentically.
Yes, it’s true extroverts are more often seen, heard, and rewarded in the busy world we live and work in but that doesn’t mean you have permission to wallow in your own noisy misery and check out. Introverts, especially the more sensitive introverts, have significant contributions you are here to make. Too many of you are calling it a day and going home because you’re “tired” and you “need to recharge,” before you complete your mission.
Okay, have I offended you yet? Sorry (not sorry) but you need to hear this. I am a sensitive introvert. I don’t like competing for air-time in meetings or spending extra time at happy hours networking when I could be home in my pajamas reading a book (or watching Real Housewives). I don’t thrive in noisy, busy environments and I don’t enjoy the thought of meeting new people and sifting my way through the small talk. But I do understand that if I’m not willing to step out of my comfort zone, I am severely limiting my impact. And my impact matters. Just like yours does.
Stop killing your confidence and making excuses for not showing up fully and authentically at work by choosing to notice and disengage in these behaviors.
Introverts have a rich inner life. This is one of the many differences we claim from the more extroverted among us. We are happiest when we can be alone with our thoughts and are able to make space in a busy world to do just that. We are keen observers, thinkers, and ideators. But if this gift is over-extended, we can get caught up in a trap of overthinking our own understanding, our perspective, and our ideas. Once you get into overthinking, you easily find your way into the “I’ve talked myself out of it,” territory. The gift of deep analysis and understanding works against you when you have an idea or thought that needs to be shared.
Once the overthinking sets in, you quickly jump into comparison mode. You begin looking to those around you as an example of what’s working, what’s being well received, how people are behaving, and generally look for evidence of whether or not your idea or YOU are good enough. As you compare yourself or your idea to others, you give your ego the opportunity to create evidence for any doubt you generated while overthinking. Once the doubt is there, it’s too easy to sink into the habit of backing down, staying quiet, and packing it up to go home.
Believing Your Own Bullshit
Now you’re primed to start relying on the scientifically-based excuses you learned in your Google “What it means to be an Introvert” searches. I need time to recharge. I’m overstimulated by all of the interaction. I’m quiet. I can’t get a word in with all these extroverts so I’ll save my comments for another time. Once you begin entertaining this, you easily segue to the negative self-talk and lack of worthiness that all of us struggle with at some time or another. Nobody really wants to hear what I have to say anyway. They’ve already come up with the best ideas. I don’t have anything new to offer. I’m not great at speaking so it’s better to keep my mouth shut.
I’m serious. Start paying attention to how your mind is working against you. It almost always starts with overthinking which is often disguised as trying to improve upon your initial idea or perfect the words you will use to share it. Stop! Just stop it, already! You are not here to solve all the problems with your genius mind, you are here to contribute, connect, find joy, and inspire others to do the same. This begins with you accepting that you don’t have to be perfect (or loud, or charismatic, or attention-seeking) to be worthy.
Extroverts are great, I don’t want to take anything away from them. But introverts have a unique perspective because of your rich inner life and your introverted experience. You are responsible for balancing the ideas, strategies, and proposed direction by contributing your insight, sensibilities, and understanding. It is not enough for you to try and sit down if you can’t get your voice heard. You must choose to find your way into the conversation and be heard during meetings. You must choose to connect authentically by skipping the small talk and saying something real. You are responsible for how you show up. Own your awesomeness just as you are and let the world see you, because we need to see you!