After years of telling myself and others “I just don’t like people”, I’ve come to realize it isn’t people that I do not like, it is social interaction that is draining and difficult to manage.
But now, I am out and proud. I am an introvert.
In “Caring for Your Introvert”, Jonathan Rauch explains how introverts are misunderstood and even oppressed. The article gives advice to extroverts on how to handle the introverts in their life. Reading this article could drastically change your relationships if you struggle with introvert/extrovert issues. Also, read the interview with Rauch done a few years later. The comments about being engaged in conversation are particularly true for me. “The weather’s not interesting.”
Likeability and networking are more important than ever, particularly where career advancement is concerned and as an introvert I am slowly but surely learning how to navigate that world in my own way. Instead of giving up and assuming that I would never be good at networking or meeting new people, I am focusing on my strengths and using them to network in different ways.
For example, I love problem solving and event planning, so I have volunteered to help with some up-coming events and initiatives in Tulsa where the committees are made up of people from all across the city. I used existing friends to make the connections and now I can rely on my planning strengths to get to know others and make a good impression. If you had put me in a room with the same committee members at an afterhours or networking event, I likely would have never spoken to them. Or if I had, I probably would have come across aloof, shy or lacking confidence.
There is more research and writing than ever before on introversion and what it means for both introverts and extroverts, including two sections of Psychology Today dedicated to introverts (here and here). A little research and introspection (an introvert’s favorite thing!) can go a long way and make all the difference in your career development efforts and life in general.