Turn your struggles into strengths.
You may notices chatter about the comparisons between introverts and extraverts. Introverts are more reserved and tend to have a shyness about them. Extroverts are more outgoing and better at asserting themselves. The chatter is typically concerning introverts because of the challenges they often face which may lead to a lack of confidence when it comes to aiming for higher achievement in ones professional life.
I was inspired to write this article because I’ve been seeing more introverts openly discuss their challenges in forums such as Facebook and Clubhouse with groups dedicated to helping introverts become more comfortable with asserting themselves. I used to struggle just as they do. My Myers-Briggs test results (INTJ) once showed I was nearly 80% introvert. The thought of speaking in front of any group would literally give me goose bumps and stomach pangs. Ugh! Today, I’m considered ambivert with almost an equal mixture of both introvert (52.9%) and extrovert (47.1%).
Don't be fooled by my quiet exterior. It hides a wild mind and passionate heart. ~ John Mark Green
Why are these personality traits important?
Learning about your personality is essential to your success and fulfillment. In regards to introversion and extroversion this is important because it correlates to how you relate to yourself and your environment. It has a direct effect on how you interact with others and more importantly, how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are interacting with others. It effects your relationships and social experiences, and can heavily impact your career performance which is what I’ll be discussing here, Goal Digger. You’ll find some helpful tools and resources I’ve personally used over the years to help me understand myself better and consequently increase my performance.
Introvert vs Extrovert
Introverts typically enjoy more time with themselves. In fact, they require it as they tend to feel drained and need to rest and recharge after being around others for extended periods of time. They may know lots of people but prefer smaller groups of friends and more intimate settings. I’ve personally always enjoyed hanging with one or two friends at a time. Sometimes introverts seem to flake out on events at the last minute. Don’t take it personal. They likely just need some time alone and the idea of being out surrounded by crowds of people is a bit exhausting. Introverts usually spend a lot of time in their heads, alone with their own thoughts.
In contrast extraverts are more outgoing and verbally expressive. They love spending time around other people, larger groups of friends and don’t mind crowds. Extraverts enjoy being the center of attention and can be counted on to be the life of the party. They enjoy exciting events and find it easy to engage and meet new people. These are not your wall flowers! They may find too much alone time to be a bore and need time with friends for a pick-me-up.
Enjoying both worlds as an ambivert.
Now that we’ve highlighted the differences between introverts and extroverts let’s mush them together and get the best of both worlds!
An ambivert is someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion, and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals. Ambiverts have also been called: Outgoing introverts: An introvert who can be outgoing in certain situations, around certain people, or when they absolutely need to. ~ Science of People https://www.scienceofpeople.com/ambivert/
I like to consider myself a very well-rounded woman and my peers would likely agree (if they know me). I describe myself as one big oxymoron because everything I am, I am also the opposite; enjoying balance with a little at both ends of many spectrums. The same is true for my personality as both and introvert and extrovert, or ambivert.
My introverted side enjoys lots of quiet time alone, I love spending time just thinking and processing my thoughts. I can actually get a little cranky if I’m disturbed during this time. When I was younger I’d get chills and goosebumps, and my teeth would chatter from stage fright. At 39 I still prefer to spend most of my leisure time alone and find my young extraverted son to be a bit overwhelming as he requires a lot of my attention (and loves to talk).
However, you may find my extroverted side being the life of the party (in an intimate setting of course). I’ll chat it up with different people around the room - play some dancehall music and I’m on the floor for hours at a time (true story)! I also love entertaining and have been known to throw amazing parties from my basement gatherings turned sleepovers when I still lived at home to my black tie affair in at the Regal Ballroom for my 35th birthday.
How did I become an ambivert?
I attribute my shift along this spectrum to my ambition and determination to design a life I truly love. In other words, I wanted to succeed more than I wanted to remain in my comfort zone so I began challenging myself more. I developed a “get it done” or “just do it” mindset. I made a conscious decision to stop overthinking things and take action. What really helped me though, is my work as a photographer. I needed my clients to feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera and knew if I was anxious I’d transfer my bad mojo to them. They’d look uncomfortable in their photos and they’d hate me for it! So I had to relax and get out of my own way. My clients are always excited and it usually takes them just about 5 minutes to warm up in front of the camera before their inner super model comes out. I’m always amazed and they’re always satisfied.
Is your introversion a hindrance to your success?
While there are can be some disadvantages to being an introvert this personality trait doesn’t have to stand in the way of your success. In addition to challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone and overcome fears you can also learn to turn your disadvantages into strengths.
5 Struggles Turned Strengths for Introverts
Perceived As Aloof - Let me start by saying this is okay. Just because people perceive you to be a certain way doesn’t mean it’s your truth. It’s more important to feel comfortable with who you are than it is to fit in or be well-liked. However, I do understand that in some work environments there’s a culture of great camaraderie and you’re expected to be a part of it. I also understand it takes you time to warm up to people (and some people you just won’t like). I suggest warming up to people one-on-one. Get a sense of their vibe and connect with them based on commonalities. Once you do this with a few people it becomes easier to feel comfortable with the larger group as you’ll always have your favorite chosen few to keep you company. What’s even better is when someone else who you haven’t quite connected with questions your “aloofness” your faves will always vouch for you!
Tendency to be quiet - Are you really quiet though or do you just prefer to talk to the people you like the most? I’ve been accused of being quiet but I promise you every report card as a child said, “great student but she’s very talkative.” I’ve always found that one person I could talk to about anything, my kindred spirit. This really isn’t helpful when it comes to our work environment though or interactions with others in general when it means our voices aren’t being heard. I’m often over-talked because I tend to be soft spoken. Sometimes when I do speak up I may get lost in my thoughts or distracted by what someone else is saying. What’s helped me is writing! And I’m pretty damn good at it. It allows me to express myself clearly and I know my message will be heard. When it comes to sharing your ideas, thoughts and concerns at work try sending an email to open up the discussion. In personal relationships send an essay via text! Lol I’m soooo guilty of this. Sometimes you just want to get it out without being interrupted.
Lack of Small Talk - Okay! I am so not a fan of small talk. I just want people to spit it out and get to the point. Less is more, please. I encourage you to be mindful of this because if you’re not you’ll likely come off as rude and disinterested. While you may not be a fan of small talk there are some people with this style of communication because it allows them to warm up and process things. They may be nervous or just not as great at articulating their thoughts. Small talk can make for great ice breakers and open up opportunities for more meaningful discussions.
Limited Contact List - Perhaps you only have a small contact list which is limiting your business. I’ll share a few ways to maximize the contacts you already have and expand your network. I’m a huge fan of starting where you are. As entrepreneurs it’s also very important to be creative and innovative if you really want to achieve great levels of success. Though you may have few contacts you likely have a great deal that you’ve connected with on a deeper level. If this is the case, simply let them know you’re looking to expand your network and meet new people. As for introductions. This works on social media as well including LinkedIn. Ask your friends to be on a lookout for people who fit the description of those you’d like to meet. Be strategic and specific. If you want to go a little further ask if they know of any events you can attend. I know Covid is in the way of this at this time but when our environment is safe again make an effort to attend meaningful social gathers where you’ll be able to connect with like-minded professionals.
You may get overlooked - Like me, you probably love roles where you can thrive in the background. Still, you need people to know you exist and also how amazing you are at whatever it is you do, right? You may not seek fame or to be in the limelight but if you seek a great level of success you need to be a mover and shaker and rub some elbows. Think creatively. We’re in a very virtual world where it’s much easier to connect with people you haven’t actually met in person. Go the extra mile. Have some sidebar convos with people in their DMs on Facebook or Instagram but let it be authentic and organic. Host a zoom chat or attend someone else’s where you know there will be like minds. There’s also Clubhouse (maybe I should’ve led with this) where you can basically talk on the phone with people from around the world. There are tons of business professionals, potential clients and even friends. You don’t have to worry about looking your best because there’s no video feature. The only catch is someone may have to invite you to join.
Overcome the challenges of an introvert
The idea is to be proactive in overcoming the challenges you face as an introvert. Be proactive and intentional with your thoughts and behaviors and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where your growth is. While you may always be more introverted, you’ll begin moving across the spectrum and somewhere between introvert and extravert you’ll find yourself enjoying the best of both worlds. You also have the option of becoming an amazing performer like Michael Jackson or Beyoncé who have alter egos when they’re in front of the camera or audience. Whatever it takes, be patient with yourself and try just one or two techniques at a time to see what works best for you. Lastly, fully accept who you are. You are already perfectly and wonderfully made and there’s no need to feel bad about your innate personality traits. Just remember, as a Goal Digger there’s always room for improvement.
Do you have techniques that helped you overcome your challenges as an introvert? Share them below. You never know who you may bless.
Your turn. Keep Good Going...
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About the Author
Lovisa Woodson II works as a Mindset & Fulfillment Coach helping women achieve greater life satisfaction, professional success and financial independence. She is a proud mother and lover of humanity, always looking for ways to add value to the lives of others. Her mission is to live her best life so she may teach other women to do the same. Lovisa encourages us all to seek fulfillment over happiness and to always seize opportunities to be a blessing to others.