By Shea Ki
I can remember since I was little that speaking up in class often drained me. It was a double hit of tangled nerves and racing heart when the topic was centered around something personal.
As the years past, I learned that it was not that I didn't like offering my message and opinions. It was more that my energy would feel zapped after doing so.
I later felt a love/hate relationship with the opportunity to be able to study Communications in college. The rigorous degree program demanded I spend many, many hours speaking in front and with others on radio, TV, and in front of the classroom. I barely gave myself any time to notice when I was tired as I also became a Resident Advisor, a tutor for at-risk youth, an assistant at the library, and the Chair person for several student organizations (including one where I had to do workshops every week in front of hundreds!).
I would soon learn my pace was not sustainable, especially as an introverted leader.
There Is No Energizer Bunny
Often people jump to the idea that introvert means shy and that extrovert means life of the party. Although some dictionaries still define the words that way, there is recent research that notes that being an introvert versus extrovert is much more about what energizes you. Introverts tend to recharge best alone, but it doesn't mean they are not social. Extroverts tend to feel a boost of energy when they interact with others, but they are not always naturally outgoing.
I enjoyed being of service in several activities and strengthening my leadership skills, but I often did not give myself much down time in between events that involved speaking in front of others. This led more than once to some tough times where I would crash and have to take a break from everything.
A break that is forced on you is no vacation.
My health, friendships, and work load often would take a beating until I started to learn more about extroverts and introverts. Luckily along the way, instead of fighting my nature of needing more "alone" time, I started to embrace it. When I carved out more time to be by myself in my busy schedule, my energy and positivity sparked up again.
Talking about myself in front of others still rattles my nerves, makes me sweat (a lot!), and can be exhausting at times, but I've learned to play to my strengths as an introvert. Yes, being an introvert in no way makes you weak. In fact, more and more world leaders, CEO's, rock stars, and inspiring motivational speakers are identifying themselves as introverts.
Here are three positive ways that being an introvert can work for you to make a professional first impression, even at a job interview.
1) Increased authenticity. Introverts tend to find small talk and networking in a large group a challenge because it can feel fake. The flip side to this is we bring to the table genuine conversation. You can still impress the employer during the job interview with insightful questions and unique observations.
2) Listening superpowers. Have you been told you are a good listener? Do people tend to share their problems with you? It's likely because they feel the satisfaction of being heard. Most candidates are too wrapped up in what they are going to say next. They do not pause much to actually hear what the employer is saying or asking. When an employer feels heard and has your 100% attention, you have the advantage in making a better connection.
3) Thoughtful, engaging answers. There is power in a few seconds of staying quiet and being comfortable taking a pause. Using silence effectively can be a game-changer. Do not give in to the impulse in a job interview to answer the question right away if you need more time. Employers will give you a few seconds to collect your thoughts.
Too many interviewees rush their answers. Most of the time, employers will see you being reflective as a breath of fresh air.
Charge YOUR Battery
When our smart phone's battery is almost out, we run for the nearest charger. One thing many introverts who lead others tend to forget is to take breaks by themselves to recharge. Time alone so you can feel your best is especially important before and after a job interview.
It does not do anybody any good to keep going when your energy is burning out.
Hot baths. Walks in nature. Journaling. Spa time. Meditation. A nap. Find what works for you to feel refreshed and be sure to schedule time for it before AND after you are in the hot seat.
Did you know that more than half of the U.S. population identifies as introverts? So whether you are one or know one, below is a list of resources you can use to learn more.
Be sure to share this post with someone you think would benefit.
"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain
"The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in An Extrovert World" by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D
5 Survival Tricks Every Introvert Needs To Know Before Going to A Job Interview by Aja Frost (The Muse)
15 Things That Introverts Don't Do At Work That Makes Them Excel by David K William (Lifehack)
Support + Introvert Humor Twitter Accounts:
Instagram Feeds of Introverts:
Change The Way You Look At Introverts (Buzz Feed)
Networking For Introverts (Susan Cain and Marie Forleo)
Your turn: What is one way you recharge after a job interview or presentation? Share your comment below or tell me what you think about the videos.
Most of all, believe in you.