Your Professional Field Guide To Be A Rock-Star Introvert-Part Three
Missed part-one? Check it out here!
Missed part-two? Check it out here!
Hopefully, I have illustrated how you have to drill down on your own behavior to know what to change. Certainly, we do work with people who can be problematic but when you keep hitting the same walls repeatedly, you have to start assuming it’s you.
Let’s just say for argument sake, that you are not having career issues per se, but just not getting the traction you think you should, there are some very effective adaptation strategies to consider. This means adaptation is good for your career regardless of how big or little your growth has been.
The reason why I call them “adaptation” strategies is because, as an introvert, you are not changing your personality. You will be adapting some behaviors, with approaches that preserve the integrity of your personality and also take your inherent tendencies into account. In other words, you are adjusting your behavior to suit the situation (and doing it “Introvert style”). J You may discover that with enough repetition, you may permanently change your behavior. Keep in mind that changing your behavior is not changing your personality.
Using the example from above, let’s look at each Adaptation Strategy she could pursue.
- Re-set your attitude about Self-Promotion. Sometimes I hear people that think their work speaks for itself. It doesn’t but you do. They think they are “above” it. No one is above Self-Promotion including the US president, Oprah, and the Pope. If they can Self-Promote and make people think positively about them, you can too.Self-Promotion Strategy:
- Know the difference between bragging and Self-Promotion. An easy way to tell is in the value in the message. Bragging is self-centered and all about the person talking. It is heavily laced with words like “I”, “me”, and “mine”. The blather is pointless and adds no value to the listener. Self-promotion provides useful information to the recipient. What is being said adds value to the other person.
- Be forth coming with information. You perform a service of some sort to your company. Share liberally with those up, down and at your level what you are doing, your results, your breakthroughs, and observations. Your sharing does two things: 1- it reinforces (self-promotion) what you do and 2- it helps the other person by learning about things that will help them. Most people fail to recognize that communication is always the weak spot in the organization. You can be just the opposite.
Let’s pause here to look at just these suggestions. The first things you are doing are putting your head in the right space. The next thing you are doing is not painful but is fairly simple to do. This is mostly being conscious of the need and then to apply a straightforward approach to it.
The reason this approach works for Introverts is that we tend to not speak without a reason or purpose. Hopefully, you can see that there is a reason and that is to help others by keeping them informed. You can’t assume anyone knows anything you are doing. The other noteworthy thing about this is that I’m not telling you to be “more outgoing”. That is usually not good advice for us. But a specific process and reason are.
There are many more things you could do with this strategy but this is a start. You can use these suggestions and then when you feel good about these things, expand. Again, we are a bit easy to overwhelm so it’s best to start small, master one thing and then expand your skills.
- Make a goal for expanding. One thing that helps Introverts is by having a purpose or mission to pursuing a relationship. Establishing a goal can help provide a basis for driving you forward and also gives you a positive reward when you hit them. Again, start small. A good goal might be: 1- develop 1 new relationship at work per month and 2- start approaching management 2-3 times per month to get to know them or their priorities.
- Go one-on-one. Introverts prefer more intimate settings rather than big blowouts. This is perfect, especially at work. Use those moments when you drop in to update or pick up something as an opportunity to get to know this person better. Ask questions; which will mean you don’t have to come up with pithy remarks, just good questions. By asking about the other person, it shows interest and that is always a good basis for a relationship.
- Get to know someone who’s doing something you’d like to do. If you are seeking a promotion or different position, what better way to do it than to get to know the person doing it right now? You can learn more about the job from this person and it may also give you an opportunity to volunteer to help them. You will win points with this person and also make you more qualified (how good is that?)
- Get to know the boss. You don’t need to turn your boss into your BFF but it could happen. By spending time with the boss you will get more insight into their work and priorities. By getting familiar with the demands and priorities on the boss, you can gain insight on how you could help them. When you have the bosses back, you become very valuable.
See, that isn’t too painful but with these suggestions, you can start winning relationships that will support you along your path.
- Don’t avoid gossip. I’m sure you’re shocked I suggested this. Before you skip over this one, think about these points. You can learn a lot from the gossip being shared in your group. While you don’t have to add to it and you do have to edit what you hear, you can still figure out how things work in a group. You can learn who is “in” and who is “out” and without sounding too cold blooded, you need to know that. If you overly align yourself with someone who is “out”, you will be perceived the same way.
- Align with influence. This doesn’t mean you ignore the people you like and suck up to odious people. It means among the people you need to have strategic relationships with are those people who seem to hold more sway than others. These people will eventually sway things in your favor, which is good. It also means you will be noticed easier, which is also important.
- Learn the management and influencers. One thing I will readily admit is that us Introverts can be a bit “tone deaf” to the interactions of others. That’s because we tend to be task focused (it helps conserve energy) and when are hunkered down on a task,, we may be missing the group dynamics. You need to pay attention to your management and those of influence. You need to figure out what’s important to these people and position yourself to deliver to those things. You will be invaluable when you do. Also, by paying attention to those people you will learn things like the best way to communicate with them, or sensitivities they might have on certain things. Modify how you do things with those people once you learn how they tick.
- Offer solutions. I can tell you for a fact that while management needs to know about problems, they don’t want to hear them without offering up solutions. Don’t be overly committed to your solution in case they don’t adopt your suggestion. You will quickly become the least favorite person if you use your expertise to constantly be pointing out flaws and leaving it on the doorstep of others to fix. It’s just being politically astute to offer solutions.
Some people are nervous about playing office politics. All you really need to know if that it’s all about who influences whom to make what decisions. The other thing is that the “who’s who” can change at the drop of a hat and you need to know that and react accordingly. You can also think you aren’t political but if you are part of a group, you are simply because you are in a group. With that in mind, be smart and play it positively.
Like the other two things I outlined above, there are many other actions you can take to help you with all three areas. I can tell you from my experience both doing these things and helping others that it only take a few well thought out actions to make a huge difference for your career.
Now that you understand how you tick and where that is most likely going to show up, my last message to you is to be conscious of when you aren’t helping your career. Like everyone on the planet, we get used to our own behaviors no matter how useful or problematic they might be. It’s easy to simply move past something we see ourselves doing and shrug it off, even when we know it’s not helping our own career goals.
Start paying attention to your own weak spots. For most Introverts, they share many of the same issues and usually those have to do with interactions (or lack of) with others.
Are you staying silent in meetings most of the time?
Do you fail to offer up your opinion because it’s the same as others most of the time?
Are your relationships sparse or specific to the projects or work you do?
Are you sought after for your expertise? By the boss or management?
Are you noticing people with fewer skills or experience moving up faster than you?
Do you believe most people at work understand your expertise?
Are you treated with respect?
Do you get recognition (not necessarily awards or bonuses) for your work or accomplishments?
If your career situation changed this week, do you feel your network is adequate enough to help you?
If you needed to, could you influence others at work for something you felt strongly about?
Do you have a clear sense of your Personal Brand and believe it is consistent with how people at work view you? Does it support your career goals?
If you aren’t clear about these things, you might obtain feedback from a variety of people you work with. Be careful to ask people who will give you the unvarnished truth about you. Most people try to be polite or nice and you need some straightforward information, not useless input. Steer clear of asking the people you know will struggle being completely honest.
All change models will tell you that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge or realize is a problem. By being conscious of your behavior, it gives you that vital first step to making real changes that matter.
Self-improvement is a life long endeavor and I hope you are approaching your career improvement with the spirit of fun and adventure. After all, it’s about you and it’s about you going places, which is seriously exciting.
If you’re in a poor job situation, I realize that isn’t fun. You have the power to either change your situation or move on to a job where you can develop the type of behaviors that will dramatically accelerate your career.
You can learn new skills until the day you die. You can learn to adapt to your various situations with some consciousness and a clear vision of what to change.
Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.