Being Quiet in a Boisterous Business World

19 Apr

I’m shy. I often have a hard time speaking up in large group settings. Some people consider me an introvert and go so far as to say I that I can’t be successful in business. But is this true? In today’s society, we value the ability to speak freely and command attention. In school, we are graded on how well we participate and share ideas. At work, employers are constantly looking for those employees who stand out and exemplify the stereotypical extrovert. But what’s so special about them?

Sure, introverts aren’t always the first to speak, but when it comes to quality of ideas, an introvert’s are just as significant as any extrovert’s. Introverts tend to remain calm in demanding or stressful situations, allowing them to maintain control of subordinates despite disorder. Introverts have strong listening abilities and are more inclined to be receptive to new ideas than extroverts, which is especially useful when managing a group of proactive workers.

Now, you’re probably thinking that qualities such as listening and staying calm seem great, but the fact is, they frequently get overlooked. Here are some tips to keep from being overlooked if you’re an introvert:

1.       Manage Perceptions.

Many introverts actively process how they are viewed by others and can use it to their advantage. At the same time, introverts often have difficulty building up their strengths because they would rather let their work speak for itself. Managing others’ perceptions to your advantage is possible by understanding how bosses and subordinates view you. Perception management may seem deceptive, but it’s only a tool to help others see your value and contribution.

2.       Speak up.

For me, this is one of the hardest things to do. It would certainly be nice if people could accept that just because someone isn’t speaking doesn’t mean they don’t have anything meaningful to say. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In order to move forward in school or business, you must show others what you are capable of contributing to the organization. I have found that making yourself heard early allows you to more easily add thoughts throughout the remainder of the discussion. Let people know you have something to say. The longer you wait, the harder it is to speak up.

3.       Practice!

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to practice. Speaking up and sharing your opinions is nerve-racking, especially in large groups. But without practicing, the preceding tips won’t do you much good. The more you practice, the more natural communication will become.

Remember, you don’t need to dominate every conversation, but it is important to make your ideas heard.

 by Andrea Ruegge



6 Responses to “Being Quiet in a Boisterous Business World”

  1. Sean Feng April 20, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Being an introvert might even be able to help you in a business setting; this topic can apply to the recent articles that we discussed in class about being a good listener. Since introverts naturally are less “dominant” in conversations, they can create chances to better listen to their partners. By asking open-ended questions, you can guide the conversation towards a specific goal, such as trying to probe for another person’s opinion or to convince someone to take a course of action. Listening offers a chance to gain deeper insight into a situation, and for an introvert, listening may come easier.

  2. Silke Sen April 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    Great post, Andrea!

    • Valerie Huang April 21, 2012 at 2:42 am #

      Both personalities have their advantages in communication. This is why we need to keep learning from others!

  3. Qinyi Gu April 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Being an introvert myself, I couldn’t agree more on what you said. Personally, my greatest fear is from other’s negative view of myself. Sometimes I become so self-conscious that I lost my thought in the middle of the speech. Yet there is no better way to overcome this fear by practice, and this is from my personal experience. Everyone feels insecure when he/she is doing something he/she is not good at. But this feeling of insecure indicates nothing more than the fact that you have a rusty skill to develop. As soon as you pass that clumsy and awkward period, you will feel much less fear than you thought you would.

    • Cheyenne Owens April 23, 2012 at 1:11 am #

      Same here. As a fellow introvert, I know all about the fears of saying something that may be viewed negatively by other people. To add to the great ideas Andrea has already described for getting people to notice you, I think getting involved in different groups or activities can go a long way. So if you’re at a company and management is trying to get more people to volunteer for a new assignment, a community service project, or just to come to a company picnic, do it! The more people that see your face the more you’re likely to be remembered. Of course don’t spread yourself out too thin, just enough to compensate for not having the extroverted personality to which employers tend to gravitate.

  4. Christina Sukhu April 23, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    Your post makes a lot of good points that both introverts and extroverts should be aware of! As you mentioned, many classes require participation; do you think that students should not be evaluated on participation? If so, what alternatives would be a good substitute for participation?

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