Thursday, August 14, 2014

Getting Along with Others as an Introvert: What's Your Story?

Ever get tired of being misjudged?  In my book, I tell of Jeannie, a woman who vehemently argues that all introverts are passive-aggressive. Huh?  It doesn't compute with me because I know better. I know what introversion as a personality type is and see through her stereotype.

However, because introversion is much maligned in this way by some who wish that we were all gregarious, sometimes it's natural to feel as if we're outcasts. Feel outcast long enough though and it can become your "story". In my book, I called this the "dark side of introversion".  It's when we come to define ourselves as an introvert. (Todd Kashdan, PhD also explained his view on this recently.) As if it's not enough for others to stereotype us, we begin to do a similar sort of categorization of ourselves that leads to a blurring of our uniqueness and cuts off our flexibility.  Mind you, this is different than merely acknowledging (and appreciating) our difference from extroverts; instead it morphs into a constraining label. It is "our story". 

In fact, in situations that are very comfortable for them, introverts can be indistinguishable from extroverts. So, what of your story, then? One of the fundamental premises of my program for leveraging an introvert's professional capabilities is becoming more comfortable with your introversion. Owning it. Because with that comes confidence and learning how to get along with others as an introvert rather than a fake. The goal is finding the ability to make a professional situation work better for yourself as an introvert. If we're at home with who we are, we take away their power to make us outcast.

But there is a fine line between owning it and becoming it.

Once we become our stories, we cut off growth. We short circuit flexibility. We forget that we're human first and introvert second. In the workplace, this can't lead anywhere good.

WHAT'S NEW :  Two companion workbooks are now available: The Introverted Professional's Field Guide to Leveraging Quiet Competence, Volumes 1 and 2.  These take the program from The Introvert's Guide to Professional Success and provide a series of self-administered exercises and reflections to bring the concepts to life in your own career. The Field Guides expand and update many of the exercises introduced in the original book and bring in new ones. 

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