How can an introvert get better at communicating/contributing in a fast-paced, collaborative environment? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Dushka Zapata, Author of How to be Ferociously Happy and Amateur, the first two of a series, on Quora:

Begin by abandoning the notion that you need to say something just to say something.

The most outspoken people are not necessarily the ones with the best ideas.

A person who takes her time to notice, to gather information, and then speaks up when she has something insightful to contribute is often the person with influence.

Rather than trying to do what someone else does, rather than falling prey to pressure that comes from a false sense of inadequacy, build upon the person you already are.

Who you are is not dictated by your ever changing, capricious surroundings. Who you are is dictated by you.

This matters for two reasons:

For your personal development, your setting should always contribute to making you a better version of yourself, rather than force you to be someone else.

If you fall prey to the against-the-current effort of trying to be something you are not, your own thoughts about how you are performing - how you are not enough - will constantly undermine you.

How can you ever make progress if your enemy is you?

Here is an example: you might feel like your contributions are always late. Notice instead that the most important developments always happen over several conversations, and that you have more time than you think.

Here are some ways I build upon who I already am:

I work hard at giving myself what I need because nobody else will (or can) do that for me. For me, this means going out of my way to make sure I am getting enough sleep. It means waking up early so I have a bit of quiet, peaceful time for myself. It means making sure I don't leave the house without breakfast.

If you think these things are not related to me bringing my best, most alert self into the office, think again.

I make sure I am prepared. I ask for a meeting agenda so I have time to think before the meeting starts. Once I am at the meeting, I look around and ask questions. I mentally gather information.

I'm always clear about who I am. People I work with know that I'm an introvert (as such they are less likely to interrupt me when I'm writing, expect that I will skip happy hour, get it when I say I need alone time.). I say things like "I will follow up with contributions after I've had some time to think."

Within running conversations, I carve out space for myself. When someone point blank asks me something and I know I have the answer but need some time to rummage around in my brain to organize it, I say "let me come back to that. I need to gather my thoughts."

Finally, I dedicate time and resources to learning new things. You could take a training course about how to be a better presenter. Take an improv class to teach your brain to practice thinking on your feet. You can read books and articles that support the notion that who you already are is just fine, that you are already powerful in your own unique, wonderful way.

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