I’m Jon, and I’m an introvert… probably like you. A lot of creative people are introverted. It makes sense; we spend a lot of time in our own heads, which gives us a lot of opportunity to exercise our imaginations. While our tendency to keep to ourselves and not seek social interactions can produce inventive results, there can be a downside – we tend not to be assertive or proactively advocate for our ideas. We’re apt to think it’s not worth it, and that no one will like our ideas anyway.
These tendencies can hold back introverts. But there are ways to overcome these instincts and create opportunities to engage others in ways that can help us professionally. Let’s take a look at a few.
Have a Colleague Present Your Ideas
Baby steps. Maybe you’re not ready to promote your ideas to the decision makers, so team up with a colleague on your team and let them be your spokesperson. I don’t mean let them present your idea like a parent might for a child; that wouldn’t be the most professional of strategies. Rather, present the idea together, but let your teammate take the lead and take turns adding insight.
Resist the Urge to Pipe Up
The law of inertia states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. The best way to get in the habit of being more assertive is to be assertive. Be George Costanza – do the opposite of your instinct. Whenever you feel the urge to forever hold your peace, don’t. It doesn’t even have to be promoting your idea. Simply give input when discussing a project. You’re in the meeting for a reason – people want to hear your point of view. So don’t listen to that voice telling you no one will like your feedback. That voice is lying. Speak up.
Exert Your Expertise
Whether you’re a writer, video creator, or graphic designer, you know your craft. That’s why you need to be confident in your knowledge and always play the role of expert and consultant. Push past your doubt and let people absorb the self-assurance you have in your idea. Think of it as a Jedi mind trick – others will have faith in your proposal if you do.
The most important thing to remember is to keep at it. If one idea doesn’t pan out or is rejected, the natural tendency for introverts is to think, “Well… that’s what I get for putting myself out there. No more of that!” Practice makes perfect, and the more you get used to promoting your ideas to management, the more you’ll learn (especially from your mistakes) and the easier it will get.
I’ll give you a tangential example: I’ve always been bad at small talk, and frankly, I hate it. It used to cause me physical pain to try to chit chat with others about benign topics. But I knew I wanted to advance my career, and small talk is a skill many successful people have. It makes them relatable and trustworthy rather than appear to be corporate robots. Now I make small talk often… and I still hate it. But it’s a skill I’ve learned and gotten much better at through practice. So don’t sell yourself short. Small talk, assertiveness, self-promotion…they’re all counter-intuitive to introverts, but they can be overcome with practice.
Always Provide Value
Most importantly, provide kick-ass content. It’s one thing to believe in your concepts, but you have to deliver. Don’t go gung-ho and allow others to buy in to your talent and then under-deliver. Take your time and get it right. Don’t half-ass it. Provide value every time, and the next time you present an idea, they’ll know your confidence is justified and that you’ll produce. Being more assertive gets easier the more your reputation grows as someone who can be trusted to deliver the goods.
Those are some of my thoughts on how introverted creative folks can become a little more extroverted and give themselves the professional opportunities they deserve. Mind you, I’m not a sociologist or psychologist, but these are some things I’ve observed and learned over the years. How about you? If you’re an introvert and have learned to overcome those tendencies that sometimes hold us back, let us know how you did it. Tell us about it in the Comment section!
Join My Email List
Want to overcome shyness? Here’s a good exercise… join my email list by filling out the form on the right of the page. You’ll feel invincible!