In the Bay Area, it often feels like a slog to see and been. In a conversation this past weekend, I mentioned that to my colleague Wayne Sutton, that it was my goal to attend more events. To be seen more. But, I also acknowledged that I struggle with engaging people in groups, sometimes. We were talking about my upcoming book Designing Diversity and how this is a need to share your ideas with your peers. I explained to Wayne how I saw diversity as a design problem that could be solved in much the same way that designers approached issues and he asked about my thesis and its formation. As we discussed the struggle as introverts to get out and interact; to and share ideas, conversations and interactions. As someone who identifies as an introvert, I do much better in 1:1 interactions. In fact, I can seem pretty talkative when just speaking with one person. Groups are where I fail and my interaction is not as energetic.
As I thought about all the way that we introverts fall short as we socially engage, I realized that all wasn’t lost and came up with a short list to make things better as we interact with others.
Play to your strengths
If you, like me, prefer 1:1 interactions, seek them out and engage others. Chances are, you will find other introverts who prefer to engage this way. It’s a great opportunity to get to know someone outside of a large group and share your ideas. Introverts tend to be great listeners so it might be a win-win to find another introvert that you can build with.
Push your limits a bit
As introverts, we don’t thrive when we take huge leaps beyond our comfort zones, but, it’s a good idea to push those boundaries every now and then. If you hate large groups, its ok to avoid them. But, what about trying to scale down to a group of 2-3 people or even 3-4? You might find it easier to interact this way and get some points across as opposed to trying to interject your voice in the midst of a large group of big personalities.
Think before you speak
Sometimes, our nerves get the best of us in a situation where we feel uncomfortable and we blurt things out without really thinking. If you’re in a situation and you feel a sense of anxiety, never say the first thing that comes to mind. Take a deep breath, think about what’s being said and how your comment could contribute in moving the discussion forward. Then speak your piece. You’ll feel better about what it is you’re trying to say if you’ve had the opportunity to think it through.
Rehearse if necessary
Meeting up with someone or attending an event but not sure how to engage? Nothing wrong with writing down some quick notes. Try to jot down talking points and or questions to ask before you meet up. That could go a long way towards make you feel more confident during a conversation.
Have any tips not covered here that worked for you? Share with me below.