Are you (or someone you know) a bit quieter and on the introverted side?
Would you say that you’re someone who’s naturally confident and comfortable speaking up at work? If not, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Many people who are at the more introverted end of the spectrum find that they need to work harder at making their mark at work.
- Remember that people can’t see how nervous you are. Yes, you may feel your heart racing and you may have anxious thoughts running around your head. But no one can see those! In fact, research tells us that most of the people around you are more interested in themselves than in judging you. If you can fake confidence by at least appearing calm, you will eventually feel calm too.
- Remember that introversion isn’t a curse. Introverts tend to be better at focusing on their work and working independently without supervision. Introverts are better listeners too. So the next time extroverts are talking and talking, remember that you’ve probably actually achieved more than they have.
- Prepare for meetings by thinking ahead about what you might be asked to say. If you’re new to a group, they may ask you to introduce yourself. So write out a few bullet points and practise saying them out loud at home or even in a toilet cubicle in the office. Or if you might be asked to report on a project, think ahead about what you’d like to say. That way, you’ll have a better chance of making a good impact.
- Greet people with a strong handshake and a broad smile. First impressions count. So if you can only fake confidence for a few seconds, try to do it for those first few seconds. Say something positive like ‘Pleased to meet you’ while you smile too.
- Think about where you focus your attention. If you imagine that your attention is the beam of a spotlight, you could direct your spotlight onto your internal thoughts and worries. That’s often counterproductive and may make you worry more. Try instead to direct your spotlight onto what other people are saying. Rather than listening to the voice in your head, listen to the people who are speaking with you!
- As another tip for shining the spotlight on other people, try taking notes during meetings. This encourages you to focus on what others are saying rather than what you’re thinking. Plus it’ll ensure you don’t miss any actions you might need to follow up on.
- Use your body language when you’re in conversation. Even when someone else is talking, remember to nod your head occasionally or shake it if that’s appropriate to show you’re listening.
- Make an effort to appear confident even if you don’t feel it. Sit up and stand up straight. Imagine someone has grabbed you by the hair and given you a tug directly upwards. When that happens, you open your chest and avoid hunched shoulders too.
Bear in mind that most skills can be developed with effort and practice. I’ve worked with many introverts who are now very strong communicators.
You can get considerably better at speaking in meetings, dealing with colleagues and even giving presentations with enough exposure and practice.
Don’t feel downhearted if it doesn’t come to you straightaway. There are plenty of other pointers on appearing more confident right on this blog. Keep making an effort and it will get better.