Have you ever found yourself reacting to unexpected phone calls as if they are intrusive or annoying?
Do you prefer email or text messages over phone calls?
Are you uncomfortable being called into the spotlight during meetings in order to share your ideas?
Prior to becoming aware of your introverted personality type, you might have thought that there was actually something wrong with your preferences.
Or, you may have felt an unwanted backlash due to your communication or leadership style.
If, however, you identify as an introvert and you know your preferred communication style, you can manage the perceptions and expectations of those around you.
It’s not news that introverts are often misunderstood. It’s not your fault, but it also doesn’t have to be that way.
By communicating your preferences proactively, your colleagues will know how to best connect with you.
This can alleviate any stress or tension caused by someone taking it personally if you react less than exuberantly to their social invitation or call for connection.
You know it’s not personal, but they might not.
Extroverted or more outgoing team members may feel intimidated or insecure as a result of your quiet confidence.
They may misread you as being cold, aloof, inflexible, or unwilling to collaborate when this is not the case at all.
If you are a leader this is critical for all these reasons and more.
As leaders we are responsible for the vibe, the culture, and the atmosphere we create.
While it’s not necessary to pretend to be someone other than who we are, it is helpful and important to ensure that those around you understand your style so that it isn’t misinterpreted.
In a culture where being social, outgoing, and collaborative are rewarded, there are ways that you can be upfront and authentic with your quietly introverted style of communication.
Here are a few strategies:
Take responsibility for your communication style.
Be proactive in letting those around you know how you like to communicate.
Ask them about their communication preferences as well.
At work, let others know if email or instant messaging work best for you. How about texting? After hours?
If you are easily distracted or pulled out of flow by phone calls, say so.
You might be modeling how to articulate a preference that they also have.
Colleagues and direct reports will likely appreciate your candor about your personality and your preferences.
Similarly, friends and colleagues will be less likely to take it personally if you leave a social event early in order to recharge from a busy day.
Frame your introverted communication style in a positive light.
There’s no need to be apologetic.
People value knowing what to expect from a leader or a colleague.
Focus on the positive in sharing openly with the people around you.
Let team members know that you are available and receptive and that they need not misread your quiet demeanor as a sign that you don’t want to collaborate or connect.
Share the best ways to connect with you.
As an introverted leader, let your team members know the best channels by which they can reach you.
Let them know that you would enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee or lunch if they want to connect or discuss something.
Invite them to send you a meeting request if that feels most appropriate.
Suggest that they can reach out to set something up and you will gladly participate.
Share upfront that while you are not a big fan of small talk, gossip, or idle chit chat, you are receptive to their communication and value meaningful connection.
Your honesty builds trust and helps people know what to expect from you as a leader.
The sooner you communicate your style to a new group, the better.
By communicating early you can avoid the pitfalls of explaining in a reactive mode or feeling the need to do damage control as a result of a misunderstanding.
Your quiet confidence or introverted style doesn’t need to be misread or misunderstood.
There are as many different styles as there are people.
Organizations are becoming more aware of the value of work style diversity.
Creativity and innovation flourish in environments that encourage people to be authentic and open to expressing their unique ideas.
Stay true to yourself. Let others know that you are onboard with them even if your styles differ.
Ask about their preferences and be willing to share the quiet, confident you!