I just finished reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It is a must read for many of us introverts, closet introverts, socialized introverts, and those who love them.
My first real job out of college, I later found out, the managers all expected that I would fail quickly. I was too quiet for sales, or at least that’s what they thought. It turns out that being quiet has power and allows for a different level of engagement. (I went on to rise to management and a very healthy salary in the 12 years that I worked at that company, by the way.)
Many women, I believe, are concerned with their ability to succeed in their own business or someone else’s because they are introverts, hate to sell, and can’t stand to do the pressing-flesh networking events that seem so necessary to get ahead. No need to stress about it, says Cain. Just make a “Free Trait Agreement” with yourself. She outlines exactly what this is leading up to page 222 of the book. Basically, it’s a concession that you make with yourself or someone else, allowing yourself to do a certain number of activities outside of your comfort zone in exchange for allowing yourself to spend more time comfortably in your natural state, which might be solitude or comtemplative time.
On page 222, she uses the example of a woman who wants to build a small business, work for home, and take a more active role in the daily life at home, but hates to do the necessary networking that will allow her to grow a business to the right size to accomplish staying at home. She suggests, “make a Free Trait Agrrement with yourself: you will go to one schmooze-fest per week. At each event you will have at least one genuine conversation (since this comes easier to you than “working the room”) and follow up with that person the next day. After that, you get to go home and not feel bad when you turn down other networking opportunities that come your way.”
This is great advice, and something that all of us, even the die-hard introverts who absolutely hate to sell, can practice. The key is making the agreement that allows you to spend time where your personality is fulfilled.
There are lots of other gems in this book, including the validating estimate that 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in any room are an introvert.