I am an introvert. Introversion does not mean that I cannot function well in a people oriented profession; however, I have had to learn how to manage my introversion with myself and in business. My career as a speaker places me in front of people with the responsibility of leading others regularly. I have had to learn how to give my best to people, while remaining refreshed with times of retreat.
I find that many people are not sure if they are introverts or extroverts. One key distinguisher is where the individual draws their energy. Extroverts get energy from people. Introverts get energy from being away from people or with a few confidants. Extroverts are solar powered. They draw their energy from external sources, introverts are battery powered. They are recharged from within.
If you are an extrovert and find yourself leading an introvert, Lisa Petrelli, in her book An Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership, gives three suggestions that will aid you in your understanding of introverts.
- Give us time to think. If you lead a group of introverts, and you throw out a suggestion, let it ruminate. Introverts do not like to process out loud, they want to think it through and then respond. Silence does not mean we do not like the idea or have nothing to say, it means we are mulling it over to give a more thoughtful response.
- Meet with us one-on-one and in small groups. I have told my colleagues, particularly the extroverts; I do not like surprises or being put on the spot. If you are looking for an introvert’s best response, send them some thoughts in advance about your idea and you will get our very best, calculated responses. If you are unable to communicate in advance, circle back around with us after a meeting when we have had some time to reflect on the idea.
- Never assume. Silence means nothing. Silence does not mean that we do not like the idea or you for that matter. It usually means we are reflecting and would rather weigh the positives and negatives internally rather than in the larger group setting. There is not a right or wrong to this, though sometimes it can appear that we do not want to make a mistake.
We are each uniquely made by God who designed us for His purposes. Our goal should not be to change each other, but to celebrate our differences and use those differences together for the greatest good of our business and His Glory.
Psalm 139:14 (New Living Translation) “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”