Contrary to popular belief, introversion isn’t an affliction. It can actually be an incredibly powerful tool, and some of the most successful businesspeople (looking at you, Mark Zuckerburg) aren’t the type of people that will ‘light up a room’. Forget everything you’ve heard about ‘fake it til you make it’ – if, deep down, you are an introverted person, fake extroversion isn’t going to help you. Embrace and enjoy your personality. It’s what makes you unique, after all.
Accept that some people will always think you should be louder
In Western society, often in the business world, loud, bolshy manners have been seen as the way to get ahead. Whilst it does certainly have a time and a place, it’s not the only way to get things done. We’ve all sat through those meetings – the ones with so many big egos that they’re spilling out the door – and often, the interrupting and uber-assertiveness gets in the way of real productivity. There are always going to be people who believe that to succeed, you have to shout the loudest. Have confidence in who you are and embrace it.
Let quiet confidence be your secret weapon
Instead of berating yourself for not being super loud and instead use it to your advantage. If you’re the type of person who likes to reflect before speaking, it can be a massive asset. When you say something intelligent, carefully considered and thoughtful, it can have a hell of a lot more impact that someone else’s blurted-out first thoughts. A quiet person may initially be underestimated – but usually not for very long.
Find the line between staying true to yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone
You know that you hate public speaking, so should you sign up to speak at in front of crowds at any chance you get? It depends. A crucial part of self-development is pushing yourself beyond the limits of what feels comfortable, and running headfirst into the thing that scares you can be incredibly empowering. And as they say, practice makes perfect. But if you’re constantly being thrown into presentations at work and hating every minute of it, that’s ok too. Don’t beat yourself up for not loving pitching ideas to clients or presenting in front of the company – if you prefer doing the behind-the-scenes work, that’s fine too. Be honest with yourself and find ways that you and your team can play to each other’s strengths.
Loudness doesn’t equal confidence
There’s a difference between quietness and a lack of confidence, in the same way that loudness and self-assurance aren’t one and the same. Introversion doesn’t necessarily mean shyness, although it can sometimes be a part of it. Perhaps you prefer to think before you speak, or you take a while to open up to people. Quietness isn’t necessarily a reflection of your self-esteem.
“We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”
― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking