Anybody feel like the most awkward person EVER? Ever respond to someone and then turn the corner and whisper “What was that????”
I’ve been there. Way too many times.
I was the person who couldn’t pick up an unexpected phone call because I wasn’t mentally prepared. The thought of speaking up in a group setting would never even cross my mind (although I had a lot to say- in my head). I used to not be able to look my husband in the eye when we were “fighting” because the thought of conflict freaked. me. out. (I say “fighting” because I would normally just remain silent, stare at the ground, and nod my head until he was done telling me what had bothered him).
Yeah, it was bad. By the grace of God, I’m a lot better now 😉
I am no longer afraid to make any phone calls, to anyone.
I can handle conflict with my family, friends, and random people.
I can speak confidently, even if I’m definitely not an expert on what we’re talking about.
But, hey, I never said that being an introvert doesn’t have its upsides!
We make great writers and readers and thinkers. We’re often pretty observant and many times can empathize and understand certain things that others can’t. That being said, there are a few things a lot of us can work on…
You don’t have to be a talker to be great with people, I’ll show you how:
This is one of the best words of advice I can give to any introvert. One fatal flaw of the introvert is that, to be frank, we can seem a bit stuck up and/or stand off-ish. But we don’t mean to! I have several friends now who have told me that before they got to know me, they thought I was mean. ME?! MEAN?! And I’m a freakin’ INFP. We are literally known as the mediator’s, listeners, and empathizers. But it’s true, sometimes quiet people can be misconceived as cold and distant and this is not the way to do well with people.
Here are some tips for an introvert when speaking with anybody:
- Remember their name
- Look them in the eye
- Ask questions! About their life, feelings, opinions
- Be kind: offer to help, hold a door, lend them something they need.
In summary: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
One things that a lot of introverts struggle with is feeling that, in order to be accepted, they need to talk and act like an extrovert. Right now, I’m pretty much the only introvert in my office. There are times when a boisterous, well-meaning coworker of mine will come into my office and yell something funny, totally waiting for an amusing response back from me. And I got nothin’. Usually this goes 1 of 2 ways:
- I try to quickly come up with something funny to say back but once it’s out of my mouth I realize that it’s actually kind of weird and borderline creepy.
- I laugh and say nothing.
Either way, once the other person has left and I’m alone at my desk, we’re probably both thinking “What..??”
Did I ever tell you that I once got fired from a front desk job because I wasn’t peppy enough? I had just left my full time job as a doctor’s assistant to work part time as a receptionist at a local orthodontist’s office. There, we had a binder of “scripts” to memorize and say in response to any possible question we might receive. Yes, we weren’t allowed to use our own words. We were also told to smile… a lot. Which I love doing! But when you get reprimanded for not smiling enough while you’re talking on the phone with a patient who’s calling just to cancel an appointment, that’s where I think we can calm down a little.
The thing is, it’s really hard for introverts to force excitement. But what I CAN do is be genuine and caring. I can make a person’s day by telling them they’re awesome without having a huge cheesy smile on my face. I can give kick-butt customer service over the phone and smile at my own free will!
*ok, rant over*
The point is, Inroverts, you be you. Be kind, be genuine, be you.
Say what you’re thinking
Back in my early extreme introvert days when I was just testing the waters on this thing called “talking,” I remember sitting in my scary high school freshman history class listening to a conversation taking place right in front of me. I remember having opinions or thoughts on almost everything they said, maybe even something clever or funny. But I never said any of it. I thought to myself, “You know, you could have said that. That would have been good! I need to just start saying what I’m thinking or I’m never going to talk to anyone!”
So then I tried it…
… and I didn’t die.
In fact, I don’t remember the entire class going silent and staring at me with ridicule for sharing my thoughts. I’m pretty sure my classmates just responded, and the conversation went on from there. Phew… that was close.
Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something
This was one of the reasons why I was terrified to make those dreaded phone calls. I was so afraid to sound like I didn’t know what I was talking about and look stupid. Then I worked a couple jobs where I was the person who had to pick up the phone and talk customers or patients who had no idea what they were talking about. I realized that when I call scary places (like insurance companies, colleges, etc.), the person on the other end of the line is actually a real person. They have a name, they might be having a good day or a bad day, and they’re actually they’re to help me. I’ve learned that the nicer you are to the person on the other end, the more they want to help you and the less they care about how much you know what you’re doing.
Here’s an example of what to say:
Sally from the insurance company: “Hi this is Sally from So and So Insurance, how can I help you today?”
You: “Hi Sally! Ok, I have a question about my insurance. I’m new at this and honestly don’t really know what I’m doing but maybe you can help me…”
Sally will probably (hopefully) say something in return like, “That’s ok, just tell me what your question is and we’ll start from there.”
See? Totes not scary. And if Sally doesn’t turn out to be as friendly as my example, don’t be afraid to ask to speak with someone else. Many businesses really care about their employees’ customer service skills and if Sally isn’t nice and friendly, that’s her problem- not yours- and you don’t have to deal with it.
To sum up, being an introvert is something you can be proud of! You don’t have to be loud, the center of attention, or extremely amusing to make friends or have people skills in general. You don’t even have to be a people pleaser. These are tips that any introvert can follow in order to be a great people person whether you’re looking to make friends, give great customer service, or just learn an awesome life skill!
Pass this onto your introvert (or extrovert!) friends who need a little push in the people department!
Be heard and be loved, introverts!
All my best,