Invite an Outsider In

openhand“Get outside your comfort zone.” “Push the envelope.” “Be more.”

You have been in conversations or meetings where statements like these were made, reminding you to shake off any complacency. When you apply these commands to your interaction with people, your mindset (hopefully) shifts.

In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain reminds us that not every person is socially outgoing. She points out that introverts, while quiet and contemplative, have a lot to contribute. They just may need to be invited into the conversation.

Introverts can often feel like outsiders, especially in a room full of extraverts. Whether you are an introvert or an extravert, take a moment to observe the behavior of your co-workers and clients. Does that person need encouragement or a nudge to share their thoughts and opinions? It could be you who invites that outsider into the conversation. The result could be uncovering some brilliant ideas. It begins with some simple questions:

What are your thoughts about…?

I would like to hear your opinions about…?

Your comments are valuable to me. What information can you share about…?

Initiate a conversation with the other person. If you would like to hear more about a certain topic, simply say, “Tell me more about that” or “Could you explain that to me a little further?”

As you scan the room at an event or a meeting, look for the person who sits on the sidelines, against a wall rather than at the table. Extend an invitation to sit at the table. Open up the space for that person to share her/his voice. Sometimes you need to gently pull someone along with you.

If you are that introvert, challenge yourself to make small changes in your interactions with other people. Those small changes over time will give you the confidence to be more open with your ideas, thoughts and opinions. An example: If you have an idea that is worth sharing, write it on your To Do List to bring it up at the next meeting. Once you get into the habit, you will feel more comfortable with other people and yes, even the extraverts.

A Holiday Guide for Introverts and Extraverts

During the holiday season, you are busy, busy, busy…attending or hosting holiday parties, meeting year-end quotas, buying gifts, volunteering, baking, cooking, and running lots of errands. Depending on your personal style, you are either energized or drained by all of the activity. Here is a simple guide to the holidays for introverts and extraverts.

Extraverts love being with people because they get their energy from others. For extraverts, the more people they meet or visit with, the happier they are. If they go too long without human contact, they feel like they are missing something. During the holidays, extraverts are in their glory, however, they have to be careful not to run out of steam.

Tips for Extraverts:

Get plenty of quality sleep between parties and get-togethers because you can get rundown.

Remember to chew your food and swallow it. You are so energized by others, you may try to talk and eat at the same time. Result: Indigestion. Don’t gulp. Sip. Don’t inhale food. Chew.

Come up for air. Your body needs oxygen to replenish and refresh. Take a moment to simply take a few deep breaths between mixing and mingling.

Introverts, on the other hand, can easily get “peopled out” this time of year. Introverts recharge by finding quality alone time. They would rather sit quietly at home sipping a glass of wine in private than being bombarded by too many outgoing people at parties and events. It requires a lot of energy and mental preparation for introverts to attend party after party.

Tips for Introverts:

Set a time limit. It may be easier for you to attend multiple parties and events if you give yourself a set time. Know how much you can take. Decide to stay for one hour or two. When you’re ready, leave.

Try a new zone. Every event has four distinct meeting zones: Receiving/reception zone, food zone, bar zone and sitting/standing zone. For in-home parties, there’s a fifth zone, and that’s the kitchen (food preparation zone). Instead of heading for that chair, try spending a little time in a different zone. See how it feels. Then try another zone. Movement gives you more freedom and control.

Scan the crowd for other introverts. If being with too many extraverts at the same time overwhelms you, find your tribe by looking for other introverts. They’re easy to spot. They are usually sitting by themselves or are doing less of the talking (because they can’t get in a word with extraverts).

How to handle the “Clash of the Titans.” When introverts and extraverts live together and go to parties and events together, they may experience a battle of the wills. The extravert wants to attend every party and stay all night, and the introvert doesn’t. Find a happy compromise by setting some ground rules before you leave for the event.

How many parties will you attend? (All, some, a few?)

How long will you stay? (A half hour? Hour? The entire evening?)

Will you stay together or separate at the event?

Should you drive to the event together or separately?

When you have a clearer understanding of what your personal style is – extravert or introvert – and respect and honor the person whose style is different from yours, you will get much more out of the holidays. You will have a great time because you are ┬áprepared!