Self-Promotion For Introverts

I was recently surprised after reading Self-Promotion For Introverts by Nancy Ancowitz, to learn that introverts comprise about half the population. And, according to an article in USA Today, 4 in 10 top executives are introverts. In fact, the article offers Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab and Steven Spielberg as examples. Add comedian Jerry Seinfeld to the list. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he shares that he is an introvert: “I love people, but I can’t talk to them. Onstage, I can.”

As a coach, I find that a number of my clients lie closer on the spectrum to introversion than extroversion. How do I know? If I haven’t conducted a Myers-Briggs assessment on the client, I reference some of the below named attributes which Ancowitz ascribes to introverts and extroverts in her book.* Which list describes you more than 50 percent of the time?

INTROVERTS EXTROVERTS
Get energy from “down time” Get energy from people contact
Think before speaking or acting Think out loud
Listen more Talk more
Speak more softly Speak faster and louder
Are more inclined to make deep conversation Are more inclined to make chitchat
Prefer to speak with 1 or 2 people at a time Prefer to work the room
Wait to be approached in social situations Initiate conversations in social situations
Are typically reserved Are typically active and expressive
Enjoy working alone or with 1 person Enjoy working in a group
Know a lot about a few topics Know a little about a lot of topics

If you lean towards the Introverts’ preferences on the left, you will certainly enjoy reading Self- Promotion For Introverts, by Nancy Ancowitz. Nancy is an adjunct instructor at NYU where she teaches a workshop that helps people of a quieter nature use their strengths to raise their visibility in the workplace.

Last month, I met the author at a talk she offered through IGC. What I found enlightening was that a lot of people confuse introversion with being shy and quiet. However, this may or may not always be the case. Shyness has more to do with a lack of social skills. Introverts are more self-contained, which can seem shy. But, using Nancy as an example, she is a self-proclaimed outgoing introvert. She admits that she looks and acts like an extrovert when she is “on” (after sufficient quiet time, that is).

Extroverts can get their energy from a roomful of people, even though the extroverts might be tired when they walk into a room. Introverts need time to decompress and can resurface once they’ve regenerated their energy. An introvert’s energy comes from being more quiet and introspective.

This explains why some of my clients have difficulty making conversation with groups of people within a chaotic office environment.

One of the ways my introverted clients undermine themselves is by wasting their energy focusing on how they measure up to their extroverted colleagues. I encourage them instead to pay close attention to their own unique preferences rather than emphasize what they don’t have. “If you persistently focus on your deficits rather than your gifts, you become your own jailkeeper,” Nancy says. “The more we are connected with ourselves, the less energy we expend trying to please the world. Self-promotion for introverts begins with self-understanding.” * Nancy Ancowitz, Self-Promotion For Introverts, p. 2.

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