Tests and classifications are more accessible now, but we’ve always been attracted to ways that help us figure out who we are. From horoscopes to personality tests like the Myers-Briggs personality test, emotional intelligence surveys and the Gallup Strengths Finder, quizzes help us understand ourselves.
The classification of introverts and extroverts is one that exploded into the workplace with Susan Cain’s book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." Suddenly — introverts had a voice!
But wait, not so fast… some introverts act like extroverts and some extroverts act like introverts.
When it comes to categorizing introverts and extroverts, experts don’t agree on what defines each; introverts don't have just one definition. Nowadays, you have certain components of your personality that can be identified as introverted, like preferring small group events or recharging your batteries in solitude versus with other people.
Before the books, articles and studies that dissected introverts into a hundred sub-variations, introverts were simply "shy people."
If you identify as an introvert, you can fall anywhere on the scale of "outgoing" to "shy." Historically, as extroverts grabbed the spotlight, promotions and awards, introverts struggled to get recognition at work, to be vocal about their accomplishments and ask for more of what they want.
The good news is that these negotiation skills will help you ask for and get a promotion, along with a raise and more of what you want at work. It's a common misconception that you need to be extroverted to be successful. You can have an introverted personality type and still find career success!
I’ve helped women use these communication skills for over 22 years — in a job interview to a one-on-one meeting to any social situation — and I’ve seen introverts get the skills they need to ask with confidence. Here's how you can use your introvert brain to reach your career goals.
1. Do some research so you know what to ask for.
This is true for internal deadlines and other things you might be negotiating with your peers. If a peer asks you to turn around a project in a short time, tell them what the normal turnaround time is.
2. Ask for feedback so you understand the value you bring to others and the job.
When it’s time to ask for a raise and you’re already feeling too nervous to speak up, call on the words of others.
Email or call the people you work most closely with and ask them, “Am I doing a good job for you? If so, would you share one or two examples of the things I do to make your work better?” Imagine having emails that you can compile into your review to show your boss that you’re doing your job well and that you’re going above the standard expectations.
Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, that kind of direct testimonial should be a powerful way for you to believe that you deserve what you’re asking for. (Now take the next step and ask them to put that recommendation on your LinkedIn profile!)
Knowledge is confidence; when you know that your work is valued, you start to change your mindset from one that is passive, waiting for good things to come to you, to a mindset that is ready to claim what you deserve!
3. Come up with a script, then practice it.
Writing, reading and preparing can be be an introvert advantage! When you're prepping for your upcoming one-on-one meeting, use what you know about the social situation to prepare a script. There's no need to prep any small talk; here are a few things to start your conversation:
4. Be prepared for a no.
"No" is one of the hardest words you’ll ever hear in this kind of conversation! When you get a no, you tend to spiral down into self-doubt, “I knew I didn’t deserve it” or “I’m just not good enough.”
It's easy to take this path, but don't get quiet; instead, get curious. Ask “why?” and talk it out with yourself and with your boss.
Your boss will typically tell you why, and it may be something like, “I don’t have the budget,” to which you ask, “Can we talk about how I can get that raise included in the next budget?” or “how much time would we need for the conversation of how my raise gets included in your next budget?”
Your boss' answers will tell you a lot about the company and your future there. If she says, “We’re cutting costs right now and I can’t give anyone a raise,” that’s great information to you. Now you can make a decision about whether it’s time to move on to a company that’s growing instead of cutting back.
5. Summarize your agreements and next steps in an email.
I have worked with many women who walk away from a one-on-one meeting with their boss thinking that they’ll get a raise in the next six months, only to have that time come and go without any action from their boss. After waiting six months, they gather up their courage once again go to their boss, only to discover that they misunderstood the outcome of that meeting. And now, even more time has been wasted.
After your meeting, send an email right away with the agreed upon next steps and outcomes to be sure you got it right. This is true for any agreements in any social situation, whether its for meeting outcomes or anytime someone agrees to do something with you.
Imagine you thought your peer agreed that she would get you a report by the end of the week. You wait. And wait. And finally send her an email saying, “Hey, will I get that report today like we agreed?” to which she replies, “No, I promised that by NEXT Friday.”
Instead of spending time blindly waiting, document any/all conversation and agreements. It's a quick way to be sure you are all on the same page!
For the shy types of introverts, asking for anything in life can feel like a risky thing. When you ask, you open yourself up to rejection and criticism. Extroverts seem to shake it off, to go for it anyway, to fail fast and all the other common catchphrases you hear in an inspirational TED talk.
But the reality for introverts is that you, too, can ask. You just need the confidence in what you think, what you say and what you do to make it happen. Now get out there and go for it!
Melissa Hereford will teach you how to negotiate with confidence. Get your free course, Take the Fear Out of Negotiating, at http://MelissaHereford.com.