In workplace cultures that value skills like networking and admire traits like charisma (which is most workplaces), the introvert may feel at a disadvantage. Our quiet natures can lead others to conclude that we are “cold fish,” aren’t team players or don’t have anything to offer.
The world needs introverts, who tend to be more thoughtful, analytical, realistic and thorough. We’re also better listeners — no doubt because we get so much practice — and better at gathering information. Introverts often score higher on intelligence tests than extroverts.
Which must mean that introverts are smart enough to make their mark and rise to the top of any field. You can start by skillfully employing two languages.
The first is body language. Become fluent by practicing good posture (walk tall, sit up straight and hold your head erect), looking people in the eye (if this seriously freaks you out, just focus on the spot right above the nose; no one will notice) and smiling.
Definitely do not forget that last one.
Many introverts tend to smile only when there is actually something to smile about, which seems reasonable. But the human smile is a powerful tool. It makes you appear more confident and capable. People like and want to be with people who smile at them. Best of all, it’s easy. So try making the effort. You may be pleased at the immediate effects.
Next, pair your positive body language with some actual language. Yes, you’re going to have to speak. After all, if you rarely or never say anything, no one will know what you’re capable of and your career dreams will stay just that — dreams.
So here’s a neat technique that takes the pressure off: “Talk first.”
This means when you come across a co-worker or client, be the first to say hello or good morning. If possible, pause for a bit of small talk, which just means asking an open-ended, yet meaningful, question and listening to the answer. Then, feel free to go about your business. In meetings, come prepared and aim to contribute early in the session (set yourself a goal, like within the first five minutes — remember, the longer you delay, the more difficult it is to dive in).
You can absolutely master both these languages. Practice makes perfect.