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Don’t settle for the ‘introvert’ label

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Personality tests are more popular than ever. But these assessment tools come with a hidden danger: They may lead you to think you’re an introvert now and forever.

If you score highly as an introvert, it’s tempting to think, “Yep, that’s me.” Your subsequent behavior might reinforce the test result, leading you to clam up in meetings and act shyly in social settings.

Yet introverts aren’t doomed to meld into the woodwork. Avoiding large groups and overthinking what you want to say in staff meetings can work against you.

While you can’t change your personality overnight, you can take steps to engage more fully in social interactions. With practice, it’s possible to burst out of your shell and become a more assertive, outspoken presence. Here’s how:

Ask the first question. Launch a lively Q&A exchange. After listening to a presentation, raise your hand as soon as the speaker takes questions. Pose a thoughtful, intelligent inquiry that reflects positively on you.

Initiate five conversations a day. Introverts tend to prefer working independently. They like being left alone. That’s fine, but balance your solitary productivity with an aggressive outreach campaign. Call five colleagues or customers each day to gather information, seek feedback or share ideas.

Ease your way into socializing. If you’re nervous mingling in groups, join a few people who are discussing a topic you care about. You don’t have to say anything at first. Just nod, smile and signal that you’re interested.

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