The jury is still out on whether or not I’m an introvert or extrovert; I have characteristics of both. I definitely do have social anxiety, which makes both extroversion and introversion even harder to work with.
Despite that social anxiety and despite my introverted tendencies, I have always been great at customer service. Even if I can’t keep up a conversation comfortably with even my best of friends, I can go into a coffee shop or restaurant and charm the pants off of almost anyone.
I’ve tried to explain this to many coworkers and customers who don’t believe that I’m socially anxious when out of uniform. The most common thing I liken it to is acting; there’s a general script to those kinds of jobs, and I just figure out how to improvise within that motif!
You don’t just have to take my word for it. There are countless success stories of people who have made tremendous success for their lives as introverts.
It seems counter-intuitive because of our common associations with leadership and deal-making qualities. Most industries also rely strongly on networking, the ability to make lasting connections and reconnect to utilize them to advance business.
One way that introverts seriously contribute to any industry is through their quiet and often creative reserve; if, as an introvert, you can channel your observational skills and constant internal-thought delving into tools for success. You can learn how people function, what makes them tick, how they work; you can solve problems and plan.
Networking is easier now because you can email and utilize social media, you can text as well. These options give you time to plan what you’re going to say, edit it down to how it sounds best to you, and contact people when you’re comfortable and satisfied you can handle it.
Bill Gates is one of the most famous introverts. He encourages his fellow introverts to embrace their characteristics instead of just trying to change them to form a closed-minded idea about the extroverted success. As an entrepreneur or inventor, being able to take time alone to research and contemplate a problem fully often gives you a serious advantage over sometimes rash decision-making or social distractions.
As an introvert, you are at least perceived as more level-headed than emotionally dynamic extroverts may be; you can embrace that in a way that makes you come off as fair, attentive and calming to comrades and employees. Being able to keep your cool is often vital in economic, personal and business decision-making, among other things.
As an introvert, you may want to look for more extroverted or ambiverted characters to build or run your business with; they will balance your characteristics, perhaps achieving the networking or speech-making required of a leadership position, and communicating your brilliant, introverted ideas. The right people can also bring out your social skills, so surrounding yourself with people you’re comfortable with so that you can communicate your own ideas and impress potential investors or inspire your employees in a way that you might not otherwise be able to.
Contrarily, you can take social lessons, finding coping mechanisms that allow you to socialize when you need to. For example, planning your time outside of work so that you get plenty of rejuvenating alone time will allow you to maximize your socializing abilities when it is most important that you are on socially.
The most important lesson is to know who you are and how you function and to embrace that, working with it or working to correct it to optimize your success!