Approximately 100% of the advice offered to introverts amounts to this: "be more like an extravert!" Hogwash. Extraverts are annoying and commonplace. Why would any introvert want to imitate them?

Quite the contrary. To be even more successful introverts should cultivate their introversion, because that's the source of their creativity, thoughtfulness and ability to adapt to today's online business world.

So, then, in honor of World Introvert Day (yeah, apparently that's a thing) here are some way to get even more oomph out of your natural introversion:

1. Stop apologizing.

Apologizing is the typical introverted response to accusations like "stop acting so shy" or "speak up for yourself" or "you should be more outgoing." Rather than apologize, raise your eyebrows and stare at the speaker as if they're out of their mind. Then say something like "moving right along..." and change the subject.

2. Backtrack when necessary.

In business meetings, extraverts tend to plow over introverts, moving the conversation to the next item whilst the introverts are still considering what to say. When this happens, it's entirely appropriate to backtrack to something you wanted to say.

3. Pause even longer.

Because they (wisely) prefer to think things through, introverts tend to take longer than extraverts to respond to emails and texts. Rather than succumb to social pressure to respond immediately, set a timer so that you wait to response even longer than you normally might.

4. Speak even softer.

Rather than try to talk over the loudmouths (it won't work), hold your hand or finger in the air as you speak (so you aren't interrupted), and speak softly. This forces everyone to lean forward to hear you, which lends authority to what you have to say.  Note: I used this technique consciously in meetings for a decade. It really does work.

5. Don't tolerate interruptions.

If somebody other than your boss breaks in on you when you're speaking, slap the table hard and say, very clearly: "I'm not finished."  Yes, that takes some guts but once you've done it a few times, people stop interrupting you. Note: extraverts, when interrupted, just talk louder; that's not going to work for you.

6. Re-educate the extraverts.

Yes, the business world needs diversity, but the extraverts have held the floor so long that they're sucking up all the air. One way to change the culture is to quote or post aphorisms like "Less talk, more action" and "Still waters run deep." Eventually even extraverts might get the message.

7. Use "extravert" rather than "extrovert."

Whenever I post about this subject, somebody always complains that I've misspelled "extravert." In fact, it's a valid alternate spelling. I use "extravert" rather than "extrovert" because the "extra" spelling reminds me of all the extra words they use and all the extra time they waste. I invite you to do the same.

Published on: Jan 2, 2018