May 30, 2014

Become a Professional Worrier

What are we so worried about, or perhaps more importantly, why do we worry?

When something is "on our mind", as introverts we tend to experience a heightened level of intimacy with our thoughts, and we can sometimes have difficulty letting go of the more negative ones, so instead we allow ourselves to worry about them in a never ending loop, for hours or even days. Is this a healthy thing to do?  Without hesitation, the answer is a resounding no.

On the bright side, however, worrying can be a productivity tool in our work, if we are able to manage it and take care its side effects, so that we are not overwhelmed by it entirely.  So, how exactly can we harness this strange emotion and turn it into a powerful force in our own lives?

May 27, 2014

Deconstructing Your Distractions

Distracted person
As introverts and as creative people, it is probably fair to say that our personality traits will sometimes come into conflict with our ability to see a project through to completion. Because we also realize how much we are affected by the everyday activities that happen around us, part of our "secret sauce" to prolonged periods of creativity is our ability to reduce, not increase, the amount of stimulation that we expose ourselves to.

Ironically, I have often found that it is my own environment that distracts me the most, and that some of my best creative work has been accomplished by deliberately leaving my creative den, and removing those unneeded tools and gadgets that motivate me to break my concentration. So, what are these tools of distraction? Some of the answers might surprise you.

May 22, 2014

Introverts at Work

Phones ring, emails bleep, your coworkers drop into your cubicle to engage you in even the most mundane of things. In many ways, the modern workplace can be an extrovert's paradise, with its near-constant fixation with reacting quickly to shiny new experiences that occur within and outside of the organization. It is an environment of constant stimulation which often seems to reward quick and decisive action over thoughtful and careful analysis and decision making.

Understandably, there are situations where providing a rapid response is the most appropriate and effective reaction, such as when working with customers in real-time, or fixing a crashed email server in the wee hours of the morning. In other words, there are times when it is expected, and logical to "live in the moment", because this will produce the best results in the shortest amount of time. On the other side of the scale, however, organizations with a long-term outlook must also recognize the need to be introspective and invest in their capacity to grow and create more meaningful value for their clients. This is where introverts have an important role to play.

May 13, 2014

Introverts Make Great Teachers

Red apple clipart
In this article, I'm going to talk about a paradox of the introverted mindset, and how it relates to one of the oldest and most ubiquitous professions in the world: teaching. There are no pre-requisites for this lesson. :)

If the thought of public speaking or lecturing a class makes you want to leave the room via the closest exit, I don't blame you. Naturally, the thought of being the center of attention for a group of people for an entire day should stir up feelings of anxiety for introverts and extroverts alike. There is another perspective on the subject, however, that may help you quell those feelings of anxiety if you ever find yourself in that situation, just as I do on a regular basis.

May 8, 2014

Negotiating Small Talk In Groups

How many times have you sat at a business lunch with your gregarious colleagues, and been inundated with the chatter and rapid-fire exchange of ideas that are given little, if any serious thought? Welcome to the world of small talk, in groups. Speaking with a grain of cynicism, I think there are many reasons why we call this "small talk", but just to name a few uses of the word:

Small: The attention span of the group and its capacity to absorb and process new ideas.
Small: The amount of time you have to convert a new idea in your brain to actual words that can be articulated and heard by your colleagues.
Small: How you feel about your linguistic abilities as a human being, after waiting five minutes to insert your point into the group conversation.

May 4, 2014

Business Networking: Don't Fall Into the "I Missed Out" Trap

As professionals, networking is a (semi)natural and integral part of our business development toolkit.  Introverted professionals may tend to see traditional networking as a necessary evil that needs to be done with some level of competence, however all too often this mentality translates into a belief that we simply need to be "good enough" at it and accept that we will make unrecoverable mistakes.  This is dangerous thinking, and I will explain why.

All too often, as introverts we hold onto a view that networking events are a type of "competition" among people who are struggling to attract and retain the attention of their prospects in the room.  For this reason, we might begin our networking events with the assumption that it is our job to introduce ourselves, upload our contact information and generate a business lead all from a single interaction with each person we meet during the event.  Not surprisingly, this assumption sets us up for huge feelings of disappointment later on, when we realize that we may have barely expressed a single word while talking to our prospects, and we are convinced that they will not remember us in any meaningful way so as to justify our time spent going to the event in the first place.