introvert

Networking Is A Life Skill

I hear it over and over again: “I can’t network. I’m an introvert.” “I don’t know what to say.” “I don’t want to brag.” A lot of people don’t like networking, but the bulk of them seem to be introverts.

I’m an introvert, too, and I’m also an entrepreneur, having to teach myself along the way how to reach out and build that body of interested people who support and buy what I do. To make it even harder, I retired in California, moved back to Minneapolis, waited a few years, and then found I wanted to start a business in a city where I had no business contacts and only one friend (a nun).

Business coaches stymied me from the start, because they would start by saying: “First, send a warm letter to all of your friends, telling them what you’re doing and asking for their support.”

Oh. A fellow coach wailed that she only had 100 friends on her Christmas card list, and I was awed by her popularity. This was an exercise at which I never excelled, because my Christmas card list was five.

Introverts, whom I often call the “Quietly Brilliant,” are very likely to have one or two very deep friendships and a moderate number of pleasant acquaintances. This is dangerous for many reasons, among them the fact that those one or two deep relationships, whether professional or personal, can disappear in a wink of an eye, for such reasons as:

  • You lose your job
  • Your company moves and you don’t
  • Your supportive boss – who really liked you – leaves
  • Divorce – and your best friend disappears
  • Marriage (of a friend who disappears into a different social circle)
  • Your BFF is transferred or moves
  • Death of a close friend or loved one
  • You move! As I did.

And you are stricken, dealing with loss, and suddenly finding that you need to find some way to search for and find a replacement for that Very Important Person. Where do you go? How do you do it?

If you don’t have a plan and haven’t been practicing how to connect with others, the poorest time to start networking is when you are dealing with loss. So start practicing now.

Here’s my starting point for introverts who are “socially cautious”:

Step 1: Find friendly people with whom to connect. 
We introverts tend to look for reasons why it would be uncomfortable or even dangerous to approach other people. (Years of being told we’re too quiet, we should get out more, we should speak up, etc., have made us wary of other people and their potential disapproval and left us with the idea that we are somehow odd and unique. In fact, we’re over 50% of the population.)

Instead, try this simple exercise for a week or so: Suspend your sense of uniqueness and look for similarities between yourself and others. If they’re similar to you, how can they be so unapproachable?

For example, I am not a sports fan. Repeat, just N O T A S P O R T S fan. But because I was a ballet dancer, I can relate to how passionate someone can become about physical performance and competition. As I was growing up, I read every history book about ballet, and followed the careers of prominent dancers, so I can relate to how concerned someone can become about athletes, teams, their history and their current challenges. Therefore, I have a basis for conversation with someone I might have dismissed as too different. I can empathize with the thought of what an injury does to peak performance (of oneself or of an idol), how draining and humiliating defeat in an athletic arena can feel, and so on.

We don’t see a lot of friendly people out there because we haven’t believed it. We tend to think we are unique. But they are out there, just as anxious as we are, and wanting to share their enthusiasms but don’t, perhaps believing no one will understand.

Connecting personally with others is an important first step to setting up business connections that last.

Step 2: Reach out and empathize. Make a simple comment, not too personal but delivered with a smile, that shows you have some idea of what the other person is going through. For the clerk in a store: “It must be tiring lifting and scanning all those items every day.” For the deliveryman, “What a lovely day for an outdoor job,” or “This weather must really make your job harder.” Short contacts, no further interaction required (although you’ll be surprised at how often it triggers conversation).

Practice in these low-risk situations and it will become easier in situations where you really need to meet new people.

Step 3: Spread your thanks around as if they were fertilizer (because they are). Ditto for compliments.

Park the perfectionism you probably have as an introvert: keep it for serious stuff, such as your income tax return, operating heavy equipment, or doing brain surgery. It doesn’t belong in human relationships. Be forgiving and empathize with little mistakes if they are not too serious.

Thank the person who stops to hold the door open for you, pauses to let you enter a line of traffic, the clerk who discovers you didn’t take your small change or points out an even greater bargain than what you have selected, the person who asks about your recent health issue – all of these people deserve thanks for their consideration.

Try thanking a co-worker who completes a routine job for which he or she is paid. You may believe it’s simply their duty, but anyone can become fatigued doing their duty day after day and being taken for granted.

Interestingly enough, being thankful openly makes it easier to point out those little mistakes others have made. You are beginning to develop “social capital.”

These are the preliminary steps to becoming a socially confident networker; there are many more. But if you can’t recognize how important this process is, and how easy it is, once you know the right steps, you will never start.

With networking, you can develop social capital, a bank account of good will on which you can draw, but into which you must make deposits. Social capital can bring you:

  • Help and moral support when you need it.
  • Increased inter- & intra-departmental collaboration at work.
  • New business.
  • A promotion or new job.
  • Opportunities – more than you ever dreamed of in more areas than you now recognize.
  • …not to mention the increased warmth and ease you will feel in numerous social settings.

Networking is something we do – or don’t do – all day long. When you discover that not networking takes at least as much energy as actually doing it (not knowing where to go for help or resources, dealing with anxiety over replacing a loss, and more) you are on the path to an expanded future. Because networking is a journey, not an action.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Social Confidence and “Extrovert Skills”

“I used my extrovert skills.” “I had to learn some extrovert skills.” “Oh, well, I don’t have extrovert skills.” I hear these phrases all the time – and they drive me crazy.

When did the ability to be socially graceful or to display good manners become the sole province of one group of people, one temperament?


Good social behavior is within the reach of every human being, no matter how quiet or even shy you may be. As an introvert, you may need to protect yourself from too much stimulation, but you shouldn’t protect yourself from connecting with others.

The problem, many introverts assure me, is that it takes too much energy to relate to others. Well, anything you don’t know how to do well takes more effort and involves more stress. Swimming, running, public speaking, cooking a Thanksgiving turkey … the list is endless.

Here are a few simple reminders:

When meeting other people, look them in the eye at the same time you shake hands. (Don’t extend your hand and then glance over the other person’s shoulder as you say hello.) Use their name, too. According to Dale Carnegie, nothing is sweeter than the sound of your own name.

Give the other person a chance to shine. Even if you’re networking, don’t focus so hard on your elevator speech that you fail to draw out information about the other person. Listen intently and be appreciative. (This is an especially good tip if you don’t think you’re good at conversation. You don’t have to be. Become a great listener and you’ll get a reputation as a great conversationalist.)

Throw some positive bouquets. For example, we all err on the side of thinking that someone needs to do something extraordinary to be worthy of thanks or even praise, yet someone who consistently performs or behaves well, time after time, needs to be told how important this is in order to stay motivated.

These small affirmations can create long-lasting bonds. People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you make them feel.

And protecting yourself from social interaction? A bad idea. According to a joint report from Carnegie Institute, Harvard University, and Stanford Research Institute, only 15% of success is due to your technical skills. A whopping 85% of your success is due to social skills! You spend years of hard work and tons of money acquiring degrees and expertise, and your only return is 15%? Well, no, employers tell me that those technical skills will insure that you keep the job; but the social skills are what get you in the door so that your expertise can be appreciated. Those social skills are well worth developing.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Introversion, Gut Feelings, and Trust

Maybe – just maybe – your gut-level feeling that you shouldn’t be doing something is right. But if you’re an introvert, you’ve probably had a lifetime of being told to ignore your feelings, and urged to act just the opposite.

Want to stay home and read? “What’s the matter with you, anyway?” It’s implied that you’re neurotic or even antisocial. Want to leave a party before it ends? “You’re a party-pooper.” Find large groups overwhelming? “Just get out there and have fun (said with incredulity)!” (Even though the event gives you a headache or even nausea.) Enjoying being quiet and listening when in a group? “You’re shy, aren’t you?” a shaming label if ever there was one.

We end up forcing ourselves to do things that aren’t bringing us any pleasure, and somehow berating ourselves for the demoralizing experiences we endure. Then we crawl back into our little cave.

It’s no wonder we have never learned to trust our feelings as guides to what will lead to success and happiness.

There is a caveat here: if you are an introvert, and haven’t had good guidance in developing your introversion in a confident way, your reluctance to participate in a given event may not be the result of intuition (“This isn’t for me”) but the result of anxiety, because you haven’t learned the social skills to cope successfully with such events.

How do you tell the difference between intuition and unwarranted, self-defeating anxiety?

The anxiety over not knowing what to do or say is simply a lack of social skills, common to many introverts who have learned to shrink away from social interaction. The self-consciousness we develop from feeling out of step with society, plus our increasing lack of practice in social skills are a part of what I call “introvert baggage,” not a necessary part of introversion, which merely calls us to manage our energy effectively.

Gaining confident social skills is simply a matter of finding good models, not the bright, energetic center-of-attention model, but the quiet, well-mannered helps-other-people-feel-comfortable model.

You can find these models through observation, reading (try an etiquette book), or coaching.
Simply acquiring social skills doesn’t mean you must get out there and go on a social binge. It does mean that you are able to do so when it’s important to you: to network, support friends, etc.

Why is socializing important? Nobody gets through a successful life alone. We all need a confidantes, support systems, and networks. If we are in business, and most of us working people are in some way or another, we need to be able to connect meaningfully with people who see value in our contributions.

It can be painful, however, and here’s where self-knowledge and your intuition can be an excellent guide.

Business coaches often urge me, and others, to go to every possible networking meeting in order to meet people who somehow, some time, might be able to help make our businesses go forward.

I reflected on this, and it occurred to me that this might be the equivalent of urging Kate Middleton to attend every possible party in England in the hopes that she would someday meet someone who could possibly introduce her to the future King of England. (Cue cynical laughter here.)

How do you know when it’s right to go? First, take some time to sit quietly with your wisdom and get very clear on what you want out of life. Banish the “shoulds” of society. Mentally practice your social skills: greeting people, appreciating them. Stop worrying about how good things are going to happen. Convince yourself that they can, and you are worthy.

Then, take a chance on going out somewhere, such as a meeting or a party, to check whether or not it’s in line with your vision. At the first sign of discomfort, ask yourself if it’s your lack of skill, or if there is really something going on here that is counter to your best interests.

If you’re still a little unclear, you sometimes need to allow a given event a second chance before you are clear as to whether you are responding to your intuition or simply to your “introvert baggage.” But don’t be afraid to draw yourself up proudly and say to yourself, “This simply isn’t for me. I will never be appreciated here for who I truly am.” Thank the host, hostess, or event organizer as you leave.

With enough Introvert Pride (yes, you can develop that), you can even say, as I have sometimes done at a pleasant event at which I’ve had enough, “I’m not leaving because I don’t like your event. I am an introvert, and I have had enough stimulation for one evening. Thank you very much.”

Some time ago, I was due to attend a networking meeting, but felt reluctant to do so. I hadn’t really gotten any meaningful connections at this group; furthermore, I often left feeling vaguely depressed, somehow assuming that there was something wrong with me.

But taking a furlough from life, I concentrated on who I was and what I wanted, no matter how crazy it sounded. Faced with yet another meeting of this group, I told myself bravely that I didn’t have to do that anymore – it was a go-nowhere situation for me. I fought back the voices of previous coaches who scolded me for being too passive.

So I skipped this next meeting, stayed home, and started looking at the internet for groups that might be more aligned with my interests. I found one quickly (my gut said “yes”), attended it the next day, was welcomed, connected immediately with interesting people, and set up a great relationship/partnership with two of the members.

These relationships and partnerships seem to flow into life easily, once you know who you are, and can handle it.

Until you’ve aligned your actions with your gut, you don’t know how really easy and sweet life can be.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Introvert Nervousness – Friend or Foe?

“I’m now able to give a talk in public, but I’m still nervous. I guess I won’t ever get over it.” The speaker was a woman in one of my seminars, and the topic was introversion and public speaking. Her assumption was that because she was an introvert, nervousness was always there, ready to undermine her performance and her confidence, and she would never be free of that awful feeling. 


After she spoke, I reflected that, years ago, I returned to dance after taking a few years off to go to college. At my initial return performance, I was overwhelmed by fear that I would fail miserably and embarrassingly. As my partner and I got into the opening pose just before the curtain went up, I was dismayed to find that his hand, which I was holding, was shaking badly. Just before the curtain rose, he said to me quickly, “Remember, this is energy. Use it!”

 

The performance was brilliant.

 

Good – really good – performers have always known that the little thrill of anxiety they experience before a performance actually enhances what they do; to be completely calm is to become a little dull. That nervousness can produce a number of positive changes, including increased mental clarity, energy, and enthusiasm.

 

Recent research by Crum and Salovey (2013)* disclosed that the belief that stress is debilitating will undermine performance, confidence, and health, too. 

 

So would simply switching that mindset to one that tells you that nervousness will enhance your performance make all the difference in the world? Not necessarily, because first it is important to rehearse your performance thoroughly, so thoroughly that you have a set of well-learned skills on which to fall back; think of it as being on a kind of automatic pilot.

 

Then, as the performance unrolls, you can hear that little voice inside saying, “I think I can. I KNOW I can.”

 

Repeatedly performing the same skills under stress while believing in the performance-enhancing value of stress leads to better performance, increased confidence, and a greater overall sense of well-being.

 

And, by the way, nervousness over public speaking or any other kind of performance is not the exclusive experience of introverts; extroverts can feel it, too. Introverts sometimes fall into the trap of believing what they hear so much from society, that introversion is a kind of defect. 

 

No, pretty much everyone has the same experiences when it comes to something like public speaking. The same rules apply: learn, practice, tell yourself nervousness is an advantage – and grow.

*Crum, A., Salovey, P. & Achor, S. (2013).  Rethinking Stress: The Role of Mindsets in Determining the Stress Response. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

What If…?

A friend and I took a lovely paddleboat ride on the Mississippi River one day, past old crumbling brick walls backed by sparkling new skyscrapers, learning a lot of history that we had never heard.

 

The good time almost didn’t happen, due to a careless mistake on my part. That mistake did trigger some thoughts about small stresses in life, which in turn triggered this article.

 

When I ordered the tickets for the paddleboat cruise, I was told to bring the printed order form plus a form of picture identification.


We showed up at the dock, I reached into my purse – and remembered that I had put my major credit card and driver’s license into a small pouch the previous day in order to attend an art fair – and hadn’t replaced them in my purse.

 

This is the kind of situation that can bring out creativity immediately. We had driven all the way to the landing, packing a picnic lunch, excited at this little respite from daily work and cares. Now the outing seemed threatened by my mistake.

 

What if we were refused entrance to the boat?

My first reaction was to say, “Oh, well, it’s a lovely day. If we can’t board the boat, we can have a nice picnic on the side of the river.” I said this loudly several times to convince both myself and my friend.

 

Inside my head, I pictured the clerk adamantly refusing to give me the tickets without the proper identification, and pictured myself being my winsome best to persuade her to turn over the tickets. 

 

All the while I had to remind myself that the various scenarios that were floating around in my head were just that – scenarios. They bore no relation to reality because they were in the future, which hadn’t happened yet. Any time you can put “What if…?” in front of the description of coming events, you should recognize that you are being creative, and not necessarily in a good way.

 

When we walked up to the window, I presented the order, the clerk frowned (a little inner tension for me here), and said, “What name was this under?” I replied, she reached into the drawer… and handed me the tickets, with no further conversation.

 

I know people who wouldn’t be fazed at all by this kind of situation, assuming from the start that they could somehow handle it in a manner that would bring a positive outcome. It wouldn’t occur to them to worry about it for a minute.

 

For those of us who spent a number of years perfecting our worrying, anxious thoughts will continue to surface any time a roadblock, however small, appears in our path.

 

Worriers need to have a few mechanisms in place when things don’t seem to be working out as you planned.

 

Consider other pleasant outcomes

So what if your plans are blocked? Stay relaxed, and look for pleasant surprises in your life. You can make wonderful discoveries this way.

 

Lamenting – “This is terrible. Our whole day is ruined” – forces you to focus only on the negative and stifles any creative solution.

 

I once was denied access to a museum because I had my small dog concealed (I thought) in a large handbag. My friends went in; I crossed the historic main street of this little town, entered an antique store, and found that the owner, who had lived there for decades, could give me the complete history of the area, showing me artifacts and pictures to illustrate her words. She also was a dog lover; we spent a delightful hour or so. The dog had a good time, too.

 

I could have sat outside in the heat, fanning myself, waiting for my friends, being alternately annoyed at the museum and annoyed at myself for bringing the dog.

 

In the case of our boat trip, I immediately began mentally planning an alternate trip along the river. We went anyway, but after the boat trip, found scenery neither of us ever knew existed, and this in a city where we have lived for years.

 

Imagine the best

As long as you are creating future scenarios, why not opt for good ones? Potential lovers stepping out of doorways, exhilarating celebrations taking place just around the corner….

 

Advanced Worriers (AW’s) need to think of all the times your plans were derailed, or you had to take a detour, and instead found a pleasant surprise.

 

RAW’s (Really Advanced Worriers) need to start making such a list. Look around you when you are blocked – really open your eyes and look at the scenery and the people. Many a relationship has erupted, many an entrepreneur has been launched, and all because of a chance encounter. New restaurants, old houses, unknown parks, charming shops, unexpected vistas can all pop up when you least expect them to do so.

 

Rehearse – but not too well

Prepare to handle the potential block to your plans by considering what actions you might take or what words you might use. Then remember that this is just one of several ways the situation might play out. I had a few persuasive words prepared if it was necessary, but I never had to use them.

 

Practice your stress management skills on small frustrations, such as this one, and you will be ready for the more serious challenges you will face in life.

 

Remember, we need systems in place that will help us to deal creatively with the small challenges that life brings to us all the time. Responding to these challenges creatively makes you stronger; responding with stress makes it more likely you will do so in the future.

 

Practice the good stuff! Make it a habit. 

May all your “What if’s” be great!

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Introvert Anger: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Ugly

 

Are you an introvert? Afraid of anger? Your own and other people’s?

You’re not alone. We introverts are famous for becoming clams when we’re hurt or affronted. After all, anger can involve raised voices, threatening language – all that over-stimulation against which we try to protect ourselves.

The Bad

When we feel threatened, we introverts tend to pull into our shells to wait out the storm. Cowering in there, we re-play all of the scenes that distressed us: the frustration of feeling blocked, the seemingly unkind comment, the raised voice that sounded, at least to us, like a shout, the slight sneer we think we detected on the other person’s face…oh, the unfairness of it all.

This pulling-in becomes a habit that we activate at the slightest hint that something distressing will occur. It too quickly becomes a way of life: threat, retreat, re-hash.

It gets very crowded in that clamshell.

You can only do this so many times before the scene turns downright ugly. Not because of the other person, because of the phenomenon of the Exploding Clam.

The Downright Ugly: The Exploding Clam

Even placid clams can get enough. After all, there’s only so much room in that clamshell, right? You, plus all the hurt and anger, piling up.

That’s when the Clam explodes, not over an important issue, but often over something trivial. It’s Just The Last Straw! “Why do you always put away an empty ice cube tray after you’ve used what you want?” “What makes you think I want anchovies on the pizza?”

The problem is that no one sees it coming, including the perpetrator. It just bursts out. Who could predict that finding the ice cube tray empty once again would trigger the start of WWIII?

And the Clam is shaken by having this unfamiliar energy burst forth, and so retreats again into the clamshell, feeling embarrassed and muttering, “Nothing. Everything’s fine.” when pressed for an explanation.

The Good

Successful, confident introverts recognize that it’s not about the ice cube tray, the anchovies on the pizza, or the shoes left (yet again) on the stairs.

It’s generally about a sense of a loss of power. So it’s good to ask yourself, “Why did I give away my power?” “To whom did I give it?” “Why?”

Only then can you convince yourself that it’s really better and easier on everyone, including you, just to address the real issue: “This relationship isn’t quite going the way I would like.” Or, “I’m feeling overwhelmed and needing help.” Or a thousand other issues that make us feel helpless.

Speaking up about what you want and need doesn’t mean you’re aggressive, a bully, or even (gasp) an extrovert. It means you respect yourself and the people around you.

So, what have you got stuffed into your clamshell?

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Can an introvert have an exciting life and survive?

Yes, many do. Many do not. happy woman

Performers are, surprisingly often, introverts, because performing provides a perfect platform for an introvert. A performance usually involves a structured situation with behavior that is well-rehearsed; furthermore, we can usually perform without those interruptions that force us to freeze or think too quickly, that we encounter in social situations. Many of us even learned that we could pour out our feelings and enthusiasm with a feeling of safety we never found daily life.

 

But it’s those unstructured situations we may be forced into between performances that trip us up, and leave us exhausted, embarrassed, and insecure. Many exciting careers do not involve a structured performance space. Some adventurous lives require introverts to cope with a constantly changing environment where skillful responses are required on the spur of the moment. This was such a challenge for one of my clients that he is now being treated for PTSD as he explores his introversion and its consequences. He now says of his career, “It was an exciting and adventurous life, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything in the world.” But he sadly realizes that his mental and physical health suffered as a result of his career. His dawning realization that he is an introvert is helping him to reassess his considerable abilities and to recognize that he could have made choices that would have helped him cope more successfully with his career.

 

So the problem is really this: if you have a dream that involves adventure, and, as an introvert, you have a nervous system and mindset that says, “Slow down and be safe,” you may be in what seems to be an eternal conflict situation: either you live an adventure that may also affect your health, long-term, or you sadly put aside a dream, believing you can’t cope with it.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can live that life, and even educate people around you to respect your needs as an introvert.

Here are some coping techniques for introverts who want to accept the challenge.

 

Develop Introvert Pride:

 

You must have pride in your introversion and recognize the special talents you may have. Only in this way will you be authentic and honest with people around you, standing up for yourself and who you are. My client with PTSD now says that even the knowledge that he was an introvert, and that was an acceptable thing to be, would have helped him with his anxiety throughout his exciting but exhausting career.

 

You must learn to say NO:

 

One introvert client, a 45-year-old woman with a small child, had already had a stroke at that young age. She was extremely brilliant, skilled and creative; her co-workers turned to her at every opportunity to bail them out when they got stuck, and she never said “no,” to the extent that she worked many hours overtime trying to get her own projects done.

Her non-assertiveness was in part due to the fact that she had been raised to believe that being an introvert was somehow not OK, and she was trying to prove that she was. She was overwhelmed and exhausted much of the time. Learning to say “no” was a high priority in our work together.

Speak up and set boundaries:


One of the consequences of developing introvert pride is that you become willing to let people see your needs, and you become willing to ask that they honor those needs.

 

Alyssa was part of a work team where members agreed to hold meetings online, with the documents they were scrutinizing available on Google Docs. This was in response to a statement by several members that they didn’t have time to go over e-mail documents in advance of the meeting. Alyssa realized she would be in a situation where she would be asked to make spontaneous responses to ideas she was first being shown at the meeting. She asked to have the documents sent to her in advance, stating that, as an introvert, she wanted that preview to marshal her thoughts. She added that she could provide much greater value in this way.

 

Learn to take Mini-vacations: 

 

George Stephanopoulos, well-known TV host and commentator, attributes his ability to live a life in the spotlight as an introvert to his habit of meditating, taking small meditative breaks during the day to regain his energy.

 

My client with PTSD now knows that he should always arrive 15 minutes early for any appointment or engagement, no matter how delightfully relaxed and social the occasion may be.  He builds these min-vacations into his schedule, giving him time to take that refreshing, quick break.

Narrow down your choices:

 

The introvert’s tendency to acquire and store a lot of information, from reading and just plain observing, can result in an overly-busy brain that suggests many options from which to choose. This can result in great creativity; it can also result in exhausted overwhelm.

 

Peak performers learn to focus and not get entranced by too many opportunities that are not in the current game plan. (This is another chance to say “no”: this time, to your own brain.)

Every time you have another bright idea, ask yourself “Is this in the current game plan?” If the answer is “no,” then you must say “no” to its intrusion.

 

Educate people around you as to what you need:

 

Instead of pretending that everything is OK, tell people you need more time to make decisions, to back off and think a situation through. Assure them you will provide far better responses under these circumstances. Point out instances where your thoughtfulness and reflecting paid off.


Pick your performance platform:


Introvert entrepreneur Barbara Feders, in love with nature, has created a business she calls Beauty of the Wild, in which she takes people to the wilderness on trips they would never contemplate by themselves. There she introduces them to the world she loves, a world in which she shines and can feel secure.

 

Not everyone can create a business to his or her temperament, but even in an environment which you have not structured, you can create your own platform.  Prepare your ideas in advance of a team meeting, ask for five minutes to present them in a coherent fashion, use body language (the uplifted hand that is a “stop” signal) to hold down interruptions until you finish.

It’s your stage: you can own it, furnish it, write the script with confidence  … or you can forever be a bit player in someone else’s life plan.

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Lynette Crane is a Minneapolis-based speaker, writer, and coach. She has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of stress and time management and personal growth. Her latest book is The Confident Introvert, written to help introverts overcome the stress of living in a culture that idealizes extroversion, so that they can thrive, and not just survive.Visit her website at http://www.creativelifechanges.com/ to see more in-depth articles and to view her programs.

Are you carrying some introvert baggage?

Personal note

Being different from other people is always stressful, and we’re all different from one another in a variety of ways.  It leads to misunderstandings, and even worse, to some of us evaluating others of us as being deficient in some way.

I often find myself being a mediator between people who don’t understand each other, and I particularly love standing up for people I believe are in the position of underdogs, particularly when I’m very familiar with the underdog position.

So here’s my latest attempt to make the world a more peaceful place.

Are you carrying some introvert baggage?11420798_s

Many people do; some of them are introverts, the others are extroverts.

The basic definition of an introvert is of someone who is very sensitive to external stimulation and needs to withdraw periodically because our energy is depleted by too much stimulation, whereas an extrovert is someone who goes out and seeks stimulation, often social stimulation, in order to be energized.

That being said, there are a lot of assumptions that go along with introversion, some of which I call “introvert baggage.”  Not all of the people who carry this baggage are introverts.

In “12 Most Expeditious Ways to Alienate Your Introverted Colleagues”, Beth Buelow describes  how non-introverts (ok, extroverts) unwittingly make life difficult for introverts and shut down any effective communication because of their assumptions. (See her full article HERE)

Included in her list are non-stop talking (to deal with the threat that silence may actually occur every now and then?), saying “You’re awfully quiet, aren’t you? or worse yet, “You’re shy, aren’t you?; forcing introverts to work in groups, socialize when they don’t want to, or basing an evaluation of their work solely on degree of participation; and assuming that the quieter behavior of an introvert is due to everything from indifference to stupidity to plotting.  Whew!  All that from the simple fact that some of us need to replenish one’s energy in private every now and then.

But introverts are complicit in this whole thing, too.  Instead of recognizing that what we are dealing with is an energy problem, and should be handled by setting aside quiet times to refuel, and by choosing our activities wisely, too many of us spend our lives in a kind of defensive crouch, trying to avoid human contact altogether, then wondering why we don’t feel loved or appreciated.

Too many of us say, “I don’t want to waste my time on idle chit-chat; I just want to have meaningful conversations and relationships, too.”

Well, I’ve got news for you.  It doesn’t happen that way. People need to connect; some of us more carefully and in smaller groups.  But we need to connect: to feel healthy, to feel whole, to feel love and joy, and yes, to do business, too. Connections don’t happen the minute two pairs of eyes meet; they take time to develop.

Here are some guidelines for getting rid of that extra baggage , and being a proud and confident introvert who can connect with others without being sucked into their lives:

  • Make sure your energy drain isn’t at least partially due to poor health habits, or to depression, for which you might want some counseling.
  • Select your outings carefully; time them when you can be sure your energy is at a high enough point to cope successfully;
  • Find things that energize you to do in advance.  I have music I love that energizes me.  Often, when going to an event where I will need to meet people and  be “out there”  I play it in the car,
  • Cultivate social skills so that when you are out you can meet others, find ways to connect, and determine whether that other person really is worth knowing.  Ask questions that allow them to do most of the talking. You don’t have to do it all the time.  If you do  (Gasp! Horrors!) get into a conversation you don’t particularly enjoy, you don’t have to continue it.  You don’t have to take the person home, for heaven’s sake.
  • Do not assume that you will know immediately whether or not someone is suitable to be the Prince or Princess of Your Heart, or the Emperor of your Entrepreneurship.  Whether in business or pleasure, a period of conversation and dating is essential to establishing a deeper relationship.
  • Finally, recognize that the more you set up these little encounters with others, the less threatening they will be because:

                 –  You will get better with practice
                 –  Each episode counts for less in the general scheme of things, as one awkward experience can be diluted by the sheer numbers.

Oh, and extroverts:  When we withdraw, don’t automatically assume we’re rejecting you. Learn to stop and listen when you are around a quiet person.  We can be gold mines of imagination and creativity and occasional oases of peace in your life.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at http://www.ConfidentIntrovert.com

Are you determined not to age?

We live in a youth-oriented society, where the fastest growing group, the Baby Boomers, learned, “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

They’ve probably extended that limit by now; I haven’t checked recently to see what it is. 60? 70?

We see ads everywhere for products and services to erase wrinkles, get rid of flab (painlessly and quickly), and make your teeth whiter than nature intended (without giving up coffee or red wine).

So let’s look at a few facts:

Aging starts when you are born. Not at an age you have mentally selected as “over the hill,” but from the start. Change is inevitable; the question is, “What change?”

And more importantly, what determines that change? If you shrug and say, “It’s just my genes. My mother/father was the same,” you aren’t up to date on the latest findings. (Check up on Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief to read the latest research on this topic.)

Would you believe that beliefs are possibly the most important determinant of how you age? Not when you age, but how. So watch what you believe.

Do you believe 50 is over the hill? 60? 70? Oh, well, not until 80? Whatever you believe, you will experience. You will look for signs of aging and because you look, you will find them.

Let’s say you or someone near you has a memory short-circuit. If the person is 18, we say, “how careless.” If the person is 80, we say, “senior moment.”

Do you have some physical problems that get in the way of your full enjoyment of life, and you say, “Well, I’m just getting old?” Perhaps you don’t remember the tragedy (it seemed like a tragedy) of adolescent acne, crooked teeth that needed straightening, or overly-oily hair that wouldn’t behave (but your mother insisted you go to school anyway).

Everyone has physical problems, mental problems, emotional problems, at any and every age. How you explain those problems determines whether you are a problem-solver, dedicated to finding a solution (or at least a way to co-exist with the problem while continuing to pursue your dreams).

Your beliefs will, in turn, guide you to make wise choices in what you eat, what you do, how you organize your day, who you select to share your time and your life. To live a healthy, vigorous life, you must believe that you can make an important difference in what happens to you.

We all know our time on this planet is limited, but finding simplistic solutions to the challenges we face and providing an explanation (“It’s just old age”) that releases us from the responsibility of dealing effectively with those problems doesn’t make that time pleasant. Focusing on pain and loss, not surprisingly, leads to more pain and loss.

Remember when you were told you were too young to do certain things? And how much you resented it, longing for the day when you were old enough? Then, poof, you were old enough, and then, another poof … the culture tells you … you’re too old.

Some people do more than just survive for their time on the planet; they thrive. They participate eagerly in life, continue to grow, invent new dreams when old ones disappear or are realized, and recognize that love and excitement are not limited to a group of people in a certain age bracket.

The French say, “If youth but knew; if old age but could.” Here’s the final secret some of us already know, and here’s what you can learn: you CAN have both wisdom and the ability to fulfill your dreams at the same time.

Use your wisdom to develop beliefs that lead to actions that make your path here a joyful one.

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Lynette is a member of MVP Seminars. Visit her at www.MVPSeminars.com

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