Jittery hands and scarlet cheeks often plague an introverted writer when stepping from behind pen and paper. In the Faking Extroversion as an Introvert session at ACES’s 2017 conference, Laura Lattimer, Rachel Godward, and Samantha Enslen equipped their shy audience with tools to empower them in the field.
Lattimer and Godward are the senior editors of Reingold, and Enslen is president of Dragonfly Editorial. The three kept their slides peppered with memes and engaged the audience, which kept the session casual and fun. Lattimer jokingly stated, “[You’ll] learn to be a pizza when you’re a calzone.”
Communication skills are vital in the office community. Networking, interacting with clients, and connecting with coworkers all demand social interaction, which often intimidates the bashful. Faking extroversion helps introverts branch out of their comfort zones and give voice to their ideas.
The three shared their best tips on conquering social fears and utilizing verbal communication.
- Know Your Audience. The first step in breaking from quiet ways is to know whom you’re communicating with. While extroverts have the ability to connect easily, introverts have to work a little harder. Familiarize yourself with your audience’s goals, motivations, style, and jargon. Without compromising who you are, try best to relate to whomever you are talking to so as to make them at ease.
- Make Friends (and better writers). Editors are often given a ruthless reputation and intimidate writers with the merciless red pen. To break this disillusionment, you’ll need to break from your shell. Offer to work with writers on their first piece; this will lay a foundation of trust. Another way to connect with your staff is to host writing workshops. Fun environments provide an easy outlet for friendly tips and critiques, plus it boosts both writing quality and morale.
- Take Yourself Seriously (But Not Too Seriously). Being quiet doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice. If you contributed to a project or article, stake your claim on the award and recognition. Ask to join kick-off meetings, and make sure you’re receiving all the information you need. Set boundaries and expectations, and stick to them. Your opinion and policies matter; as Lattimer stated, “It’s empowering to say no.”
- Prepare, Deliver, and Repeat Your Message. While speech freely flows from the extroverted, effective communication is a struggle for introverts. Uncomfortable situations and necessary confrontation often drain words from one’s mind. In situations that will ensue awkwardness, it’s best to prepare exactly what you’ll need to say. Create questions to ask, think of counter arguments and your response to them, and brainstorm positive ways to deliver ideas and criticism.
- Keep These Secret Sayings In Mind. Storing a few phrases in the back of your mind will keep you prepared for every social situation in the workplace. Ask honest questions such as, “Could you tell me what’s going on?” Be sure to not leave any confusion lingering in the air and clarify with, “Is that right?” and “I think what you’re saying is…” If you feel the need to make a recommendation or gently challenge an idea, try starting with, “In my experience …” or “On projects like this one, I have noticed …” And lastly, wrap up a conversation using the phrases, “So our next steps are …” and “And we’ll go from there!”