Introverts: Just Like Extroverts, Only Better

Most of you who read this blog haven’t met me in person, but you may have assumed that I’m an extrovert because my chosen career involves people, or the fact that I regularly speak to large groups of people at large conferences and events.

But you would be wrong. I’m actually a card carrying introvert, and think that we as a species are wildly misunderstood.

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Sacha Chua, shared a great Slideshare presentation called The Shy Connector. It’s so awesome that I think this should be required reading for anyone who says that they’re an introvert , but can’t possibly bring themselves to network with others.

Personally, I don’t see introversion/extroversion as the difference between being shy or outgoing, as many people do. I like these simple definitions best:

Introverts – Recharge by spending time alone.

Extroverts – Recharge by being around people.

It’s really that simple. So an Introvert can be the life of the party – but then they’ll probably crash and burn afterward in order to reboot – and an Extrovert doesn’t necessarily have to be the center of attention at all times who can never stop talking. Although if the shoe fits…

Sacha’s presentation got me to thinking about some of the other interesting things I’ve read on the subject and I thought I’d share a few of them to encourage my fellow Introverts out there and also to help the Extroverts to better to understand us.

  • Funny and accurate: Caring for Your Introvert – Money Quote: “Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts.”
  • Why Introverts Can Make The Best Leaders – Money Quote: “Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. They suffer from people exhaustion and need to retreat to recharge their batteries frequently. These regular timeouts actually fuel their thinking, creativity and decision-making and, when the pressure is on, help them be responsive, not reactive.”
  • How to Network: For Introverts – Money Quote: “Introverts typically don’t like to talk about themselves – we prefer to talk about ideas. Force yourself to discuss some of the things you’ve done. Don’t brag, make sure they are relevant to the conversation. Then the extroverts can talk about you and pass your achievements along.”
  • Job Search Tips for Introverts – Money Quote: “Value your listening skills. When you’re searching for a job and reaching out to others, you’ll do this much more effectively if you’re a good listener.”
  • Top 5 Things Every Extrovert Should Know About Introverts – Money Quote: “Introverts have more brain activity in their frontal lobes and when these areas are activated through solitary activity, introverts become energized through processes such as problem solving, introspection, and complex thinking. Extroverts on the other hand tend to have more activity in the back of their brain, areas that deal with processing sensory information from the external world, so they tend to search for external stimuli in the form of interacting with other people and the outside world to energize them.”

Do you feel like being an introvert has held you back in your career in any way – or has it helped you to get where you are today?

Extroverts – do you understand us? Or do you think that anyone who doesn’t get excited about dressing up to go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the 57th time is just plain weird?

(Because we definitely think that about you when you do.)

Using Social Media: A Missed Opportunity for HR?

Missed opportunity This morning, I’m facilitating the Miami Valley Human Resources Association‘s monthly HR-Xchange meeting, where I’ll be leading a discussion on “Using Social Media & Social Networks – Are You Missing the Opportunities in HR?”. I hope to come back with some insights to share with you as to why many HR professionals are hesitant to get involved with social media and figure out how to use some of these tools to help them to grow in their careers, promote their Employment Brand and connect with/recruit qualified candidates. But don’t worry, we’re not going to stop with just discussing why people aren’t getting on board, we’ll also be talking about how to overcome some of the concerns and just get started.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent post by Mack Collier on his blog The Viral GardenSocial Media isn’t going away, either get on the bus, or get left behind – that speaks to why it’s important for companies (not just HR) to figure this stuff out:

The future doesn’t belong to companies that think that social media is the best thing since sliced bread. It also doesn’t belong to companies that think that it’s all overblown kool-aid drinking, and that’s determined to ignore it, simply because you hate all the hype that social media is getting.

You guys keep fussing about which tools are best, the rest of us will keep figuring out how these tools can WORK TOGETHER to benefit companies.

Social media isn’t going away, and neither is ‘traditional’ marketing. You can either worry about which tools are best, and who is ‘right’, or you can get to work figuring out which tools are right for your company and clients.

Where will you spend your time?

Still think that your HR/Recruiting team (or company) doesn’t need to bother with using Social Media as part of your business strategy? Then check out the statistics presented in the following video – Social Media Revolution – and ask yourself how much longer you can continue ignore it…

Is Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Keeping You From Getting What You Want?

While flipping through radio channels on a road trip recently, I came across a call-in show where the topic of the day was How to Attract Your Ideal Man.

The host of the show was an author of one of the many books on “Law of Attraction” and although I’m not much of a believer in that stuff, I decided to listen in anyway. (Not at all because I’m single – I prefer to call it research.)

The first caller to the show – a single mom in her late 30’s – explained how she’d given up on finding a “good man”, as she had a history of attracting only Losers. To help her out, the host asked the caller to describe exactly what she was looking for in her ideal man. She rattled off a few things, such as:

  • I don’t want someone who can’t appreciate what it takes to be a single parent.
  • I don’t want someone who isn’t kind and considerate.
  • I don’t want someone who does not want to be in a committed relationship.

After a few minutes, the host stopped the caller and asked if she recognized that she was creating a list of everything she did not want versus what she did want in an ideal mate. Surprisingly, she hadn’t noticed.

He explained his theory that her negative thinking was a huge part of the reason why she hasn’t been successful in finding the “right” man.

The host then suggested that she take some time to write down all of the things that she doesn’t want, then go back and change the wording in each sentence to instead reflect what she does want. By doing this, she would be changing her negative thinking to positive, which would allow her to actually attract her ideal man – who would ride up on a white horse and take her away to live in a castle far, far away where they would live happily ever after. (Ok, so I may have embellished a wee bit with the last part…)

According to the Law of Attraction, thinking about what you don’t want applies energy and focus in that direction and actually brings those things into your life, while applying positive thinking and intentionally focusing on what you do want sends “positive vibrations” out to the universe and attracts those things to you.

I don’t buy the universal positive vibrations mumbo-jumbo, but I do notice when people position things negatively in terms of their businesses and careers and recognize how often that limits their thinking (and mine) to potential possibilities and opportunities.

Ask a client to describe an ideal candidate for a position and they might say “We won’t consider someone who has worked in a very large company – they don’t fit with our entrepreneurial culture”.

Ask a candidate to describe their ideal opportunity and you might hear “I don’t want to be micro-managed or work in a company where there is a lot of bureaucracy”.

With each of these statements, I have to guard against going into a negative frame of mind, where I start subtracting from a mental list instead of adding to it. I’m also curious to find out more about the bad experience(s) in their past that are likely associated with their concerns, and as a result, we end up spending a lot of time focusing on what won’t or hasn’t worked instead of exploring what can.

Take a moment to consider how you’re describing to others what you’re looking for in terms of your career, your job search or your business. Ask yourself what your ideal opportunity looks like and then write down your thoughts without self-editing (just do a brain dump).

Or, go ahead and make a list of all of the things that you don’t want in your ideal opportunity, because those things may be more clear to you than what you do want at the moment. Once you’ve created your list, go back through it and change any negative words and statements into positive ones.

By doing this, when you’re asked about your ideal opportunity in the future, you’ll not only be prepared to positively describe it, you can also create an action plan to make it happen! You’ll find it much easier to create an action plan around what you want to accomplish versus what you don’t.

Do you have some examples of how focusing on the negative or what is not desired has affected you or others? Was there a change in thinking at some point followed by positive results? It’s definitely possible to get in your own way by being a Debbie Downer in terms of your business or career (or love life).

I don’t want that for you.

Scratch that. I want much better things for you!