Do you tend to listen more than talk? Would you rather place yourself on the outer edges of a group rather than the middle? Do you feel most effective one-on-one and small groups versus a large group?
If you answered yes, you may have a tendency toward introversion.
Introvert describes a type of person who focuses inward toward ideas and images. They get their energy from being alone. Think of them as deep wells of water from which to slowly draw out something refreshing. An extrovert describes the type of person who focuses outward toward people and things. They’re energized by being around people. Imagine a babbling brook, flowing and rarely stagnant.
In a world of attention mongering, introverts can feel drown out by their seemingly charismatic, attention-loving, charming, fun, and cool extroverted cohorts. I mean, don’t people just prefer charismatic, charmers? Aren’t they just more fun, cool, and friendly?
That’s the belief I held for a long time – people who were quiet were seen as none-of-the-above.
Now I know that’s not true.
Through the world of coaching I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter who talks more or who talks less – at the core, most people are thinking and feeling similar emotions.
Stress, anxiety, or large social settings can trigger introverts to resort to their default of talking less and they’ll often zip their lips and even throw away the key. Under similar circumstances, extroverts resort to their default of talking and chat more to whoever will listen.
Both can be coping mechanisms to protect oneself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt. Both can also be comfort levels while experiencing life.
There’s nothing wrong with either.
While labels like “introvert” and “extrovert” put people into one box or another, it’s helpful to understand the discomfort and energy drain introverts experience in large groups of people, versus the energy and excitement of experiencing deep conversation with an intimate few.
With the introverts who share their heart, spirit, and space with me as their coach, there’s often a mysterious unfolding that happens and a meaningful relationship and mutual respect develop. I understand you, comrade.
Here’s what I’ve learned about introverted leaders:
When they speak, listen. Their words carry weight because they’re careful not to waste any.
They share their most private selves with only a select few and are deep and loyal.
They listen carefully, hearing things most miss, and connect the dots to make meaning.
They process and reflect internally. Wait for it.
Introverts have no need to be entertainers or rack up followers. In fact, they may even have a hidden moxie to do the opposite of what the crowd does.
They’re keen in thinking about how they come across and have a tendency to think it’s not enough. However, those around them are almost always greatly impacted.
If you are an introvert reading this, I salute you. (Not verbosely of course, but with a smile and slight nod.) Your quiet presence is indispensable in leadership.
When has it felt like introversion has limited you?
When has it been a notable strength?
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