How Learning About Being An Introvert Has Helped Me

Thriving as an introvert

Go to the profile of Preeti
Apr 18, 2017
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Several years ago I was asked by a line manager in a previous job why I didn’t speak up more in meetings. I thought about this and genuinely didn’t know the answer. The only thing I could put it down to was a lack of confidence, which funnily enough I didn’t have the confidence to admit to!

I took the comment quite hard. I desperately wanted to be successful at my job. I worked really hard every single day and I wanted to progress. I knew that I was quieter than my colleagues but I never realised this would present itself as a problem.

I had to do something about it. I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to say I wasn’t good enough. I found myself a great mentor, I read several self-development books and I made myself speak up in meetings. I did everything I could to ‘fix’ this and prove to people this wasn’t an issue.

However it didn’t work out in the way that I’d hoped. I contributed more in meetings but I found myself speaking up when I wasn’t adding any value. I was speaking just to show that I could. I spoke over others in my need to get myself heard and to prove myself. And the worst thing was that I could see what I was doing.

It went completely against the way I like to do things and rather than make me feel better about things I ended up feeling worse. I felt tired, exhausted and annoyed with myself. I didn’t like my new approach.

It is only recently that I’ve learned about being an introvert and what that means, and to fully appreciate how this presents itself at work. If I had known this back then I would have dealt with the situation very differently:

1. I would have been able to explain that as an introvert I like to reflect on things. I would have understood that there might be ways to prepare for a meeting and to make my contributions effective – because the important thing to know is that I did want to make a contribution and felt I could make a good one. This could be knowing the topics for discussion beforehand or working out a way to follow-up afterwards.

2. I would have understood that there was nothing wrong with me and it wasn’t something I needed to ‘fix’. Yes I would perhaps need to stretch the edges of my comfort zone, but not change myself completely as I did at the time. I would have felt more confident in myself as I was and as a result, given myself much less of a hard time.

3. I would have focussed on my strengths, because I had lots. I would have considered how I could build on those. Could I make more use of my writing skills to share my thoughts or to encourage an alternative way to share ideas amongst the team? Instead my attention was only on what I had been told I wasn’t doing, and I ignored all the great things I was doing.

4. Most importantly I would have had the courage to be myself.

And that’s the reason I now write about this. Because I have learned a lot since the day I was asked that question about why I do things the way I do, and I realise how much that knowledge would have helped me had I known it earlier. By sharing what I’ve learned, who knows, it may help someone else.

Go to the profile of Preeti

Preeti

I started off as a Great Wake Up! blogger but that wonderful project has sadly come to an end so now I am writing about being an introvert. I, like many other introverts, can feel lost as more and more value is placed on the number of connections we make rather than their quality. I often find myself in situations where I don't fit in and where louder people get a greater share of the focus. I am regularly seen as 'the quiet one' as if somehow that is a bad thing, when in fact, I think it's a pretty good thing. This blog is about my journey to find out more about the introvert personality and embrace my quiet side.

2 Comments

Go to the profile of Mark Cuddy
Mark Cuddy 7 months ago

I think it's great what you're doing with your blogging. It's deep and courageous and if it helps others it adds more value to the whole thing. Keep it up because someone reading this could get great support from it. Take it easy.

Go to the profile of Ellen Tout
Ellen Tout 7 months ago

Hi Preeti. I completely relate to this. Really inspiring, honest piece.