Tips To Effective Communication Skills For Introverts

Tips To Effective Communication Skills For Introverts
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 10 March, 2022

In today's corporate landscape, diversity is encouraged. After all, every employee has something to contribute, no matter the age, gender, sex, nationality, race, religion, or culture—however, there is little discussion about what introverted employees can offer to a society that favours extroversion.

There is no denying that there is a stereotype of successful employees and leaders being charismatic extroverts with effective communication skills. They are the ones who dominate the discussion, the risk-taker, the ball of energy, and the social butterfly with a vast network. Meanwhile, introverts are seen as timid, indecisive, or indifferent, even if they are just as skilled.

While there is more to everyone than meets the eye, extroversion and introversion are science-backed types of personalities, each with strengths and weaknesses. The difference is that extroverts have an advantage in a workplace—even society, in general—designed to reward their personality.

What It Means to Be an Introvert

If you are an introvert, you probably prefer less stimulating conditions and activities. While your extroverted counterparts feel energised in an environment full of people, introverts feel tired, needing the absence of stimulation to re-energise.

In essence, introverts feel less need for social interaction and more time for solitude. Not that you fear social interaction; you just react differently to it compared with extroverts. Because of this, you only keep a few but close relationships.

Physiologically, the introverts' brains showhigh cortical arousal; you process more sensory information, so you are very perceptive and sensitive to details. This is why introverts view extremely stimulating scenarios as information overload. You also have more grey matter in the prefrontal cortex or the part of the brain concerned with abstract thought and decision-making.

Silence and bashfulness are not the only qualities that define introverts; introversion is more about the approach to people and tasks.

An Introvert in the Workplace

Systematic, logical, analytical, and cautious are just some of the characteristics of an introvert. But how do these apply in the workplace?

  • You are a self-sufficient self-starter: Your preference for solitude reflects your work style, opting to rely on your skill s when starting and completing tasks. Introverts would also rather first solve a problem before asking for help.
  • Inquisitive for the sake of accuracy and quality: Your curious nature coincides with your need for quality and accurate output. You ask as many questions as needed to ensure that you fully understand your tasks and are getting them right.
  • Your reflectiveness allows you to take calculated risks: Introverts take in and process information through observation and introspection. This enables you to see possible roadblocks and find solutions before responding, even if it means taking extra time.
  • Sees and hears details beyond what is noticeable: Another benefit of reflectiveness is the attention to verbal and nonverbal cues, using them as variables to understand a situation. The introvert sees and hears details that are not obvious and others may overlook, making you an effective social scientist.
  • Rewards or praises are appreciated but don't keep you motivated: Introverts had to develop coping mechanisms to thrive in a workforce that promotes and applauds extroversion. One of these is keeping yourself motivated through your own way, rarely needing reassurance or rewards from others who often give these to their extroverted colleagues.

Of course, a few downsides may set introverts back in the workplace and hinder your chances of advancing your career.

  • You tend to over-analyse, maybe due to the fear of making a mistake.
  • The need to verify may come off as distrust.
  • You are slow with decision-making and approvals.
  • You tend to micromanage or be overly critical of your colleagues.
  • You may not bode well with the collaborative approach many employers prefer, which may prevent you from making professional connections, taking opportunities for growth, or sharing ideas.
  • You may be resistant to face-to-face communication and rely too much on less personal interactions, even when these may not be ideal for a situation.

Introverts in Meetings: The Usual Scenarios

The last two points above are especially critical because introverts aren't known for their communication skills in the workplace. According to Nancy Ancowitz, author ofSelf-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead, most introverts hold their tongues during meetings because "they don't like to interrupt and don't excel at thinking on their feet."

However, many critical decisions are made during meetings, so feedback and expertise from everyone—including introverted employees—are helpful. In addition, staying silent may be hurting your career. It would help to understand what your silence during meetings is expressing to others besides your actual intentions.

  1. Trying to be respectful: The introvert tends to defer to managers or leaders and instead pays attention to the discussion. You may feel like it's not your place to talk. However, your submissiveness will make you invisible. If you're aiming to move up the ladder, your ideas and work must be noticed by senior executives.
  2. You have nothing new to add: You think the other employees have already put forth everything. However, when you don't share your opinions, people will assume that you don't haveany in the first place or that you just don't care.
  3. The fear of saying something wrong: In the instance that you're meeting with senior executives or clients, you naturally don't want to appear incompetent by saying the wrong things as they can make or break your career (and your employer's reputation). However, you're also lowering your chances of making your working relationship with them better.

Also Read: How to be assertive in the workplace without being bossy

If you can relate to these typical situations, there are things you can do to contribute more during meetings:

  1. Prepare and write down your ideas: Once you already know the meeting's agenda, it will help to list down your discussion points. When you process and write your ideas, you give yourself space to clarify them first and be more confident in presenting them. You can also ask your senior colleagues how they want you to participate so you know when to jump in.
  2. Make yourself heard: Know that you can respectfully interrupt the meeting as long as you contribute something substantive. It may be uncomfortable, but you can only be heard by audibly or visually calling attention to yourself, like addressing the meeting's presenter or putting up your index finger, according to Ancowitz.
  3. Be the first (or second) to speak up: Assume that someone in the meeting has the same ideas as you, so make sure to share them early on. Susan Cain, author ofthe bookQuiet, believes that "the ideas that get advanced early tend to become the anchoring ideas in a discussion." Waiting near the end to say anything will have the opposite effect.

6 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

Of course, meetings aren't the only chance for introverts to speak up in the workplace. It would help to take steps into developing effective communication skills in general.

1. Be mindful of the environment

Have discussions in places that are relatively quiet. Noisy environments will force you and your colleague to speak louder, hampering your thoughtful, reflective talks. Make sure that even factors like the location's brightness or temperature are something you're comfortable with so your thinking isn't debilitated.

2. Show interest

At the start of the conversation, ask the other person open-ended questions about what they're interested in. Based on their answer, select a piece of information and ask them to expound on that to keep the conversation going. Asking questions is an easy way for introverts to participate actively without being too talkative.

3. Buy time and organise your thoughts

As mentioned, introverts aren't always good at thinking on their feet. There may be times when you want to be thoughtful and concise, so you take your time thinking about and preparing the right words. You can "buy time" by being open about it. Say something like, "Let me have a moment to think this through." Acquire social permission to organise your thoughts.

4. Develop active listening

There are two ways of listening: passive and active. To improve your communication skills as an introvert, you need to develop the latter. Active listening means understanding and responding to what the speaker shares, allowing you to be more engaged with them and aware of their needs.

5. Believe what you're saying

An effective communicator strongly believes in what their saying and the value they provide. As an introvert, you may feel like your ideas are not good or that they may face backlash. The anxiety this causes pushes you to keep quiet. However, if you don't trust the value you bring, no one else will. Believe that your idea can be helpful and even bring you success.

6. Take it easy

Improving your communication skills can be stressful, so go easy on yourself. Know that development takes time, practise, and patience. If a conversation didn't go according to plan or went awry, keep your sense of humour. Simply reflect on what you learned from it for next time.

You don't have to change into a talkative person or an extrovert. You'll do well continuing the hard work and communicating on occasion. After a mentally draining meeting or discussion, take a short break to have deep, long breaths and reflect. If you feel pressured, take some alone time, do your favourite activities, and recharge. This can feed your mind with fresh ideas.

Finding Success in Introversion through Effective Communication Skills

Admittedly, introverts must work doubly hard to grab opportunities for growth. Unlike your extrovert colleagues, you have to go out of your way to produce ideas and results that allow leaders to associate you with organisational success. This starts with putting your communication skills in the workplace to the test and finding comfortable ways to engage with them.

In the end, both extroverts and introverts are essential in the workplace. When companies celebrate and encourage employees no matter the personality type, they reap the advantages. Talent, creativity, and productivity can come from anyone.

Check out our Career Resources page for more tips on how you can develop your career. It also offers expert insights and advice that can help you on your career journey.

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