If you are an introvert, there are many aspects of life that can feel extra challenging - like gaining and communicating self-confidence at a new job. But, it doesn’t have to be. It is completely possible for an introvert to be confident and build good positive relationships with people over time. Here’s how:
1. Know that you are wired to lead: Several years ago, TheLadders.com, conducted a survey and learned that 65% of 1,542 senior managers believed that introversion was an impediment to getting ahead in the workplace. The belief is that managers tend to see extroverted employees who tend to be more talkative, energetic and often popular as leadership material.
But, according to Professor Adam Grant from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business introverts can be better leaders. That’s because introverts are in tune with their likes and dislikes. They know what works best for them and they use this information to create work environments that optimize their effectiveness. Maximum effectiveness is key to career success. If you are an introvert – let that sink in. You are wired to lead. Own it!
2. Get charged before you engage: The main difference between introverts and extroverts is where they get their energy. Extroverts get their energy from engaging with other people – the more people they engage with the more charged up they get. On the other hand, introverts get their energy from being alone. Much like a cell phone battery, their energy gets depleted with extensive social interaction. Depending on their capacity, they will need to retreat from social interaction to recharge before they are comfortable enough to re-engage with other.
If you are an introvert, make sure that you find strategic times during your day to grab some alone time to re-charge. Consider scheduling an hour of alone time before large staff meetings or networking events. When you are charged and re-energized you more easily engage with others. This allows you to communicate confidence more easily with your new co-workers.
3. Leverage one-on-one interactions: Introverts are often more comfortable when they connect with others one-on-one. If you’re an introvert, use this to your advantage. Set up lunch dates with each of the members of your team and with colleagues from other departments. Use these opportunities to get to know them on a more personal basis as well as to ask for success tips for your new role. The bottom line is when you’re in one-on-one settings you’re more comfortable and this will go a long way in communicating confidence at your new job.
4. Dress for success: Do you know that awesome feeling you get when you have a new outfit that looks great on you? There’s nothing like it. There is no doubt that when we look and feel our best, we communicate confidence. So always strive to look your best. It will put a pep in your step that will radiate self-confidence at your new job.
5. Speak with a period at the end: In addition to your physical appearance, how you speak will make an impression at your new job. So, if you’re an introvert who wants to communicate confidence at work, use language that projects that you are a confident leader.
Also, be mindful that the volume and tone of your voice are instrumental in conveying confidence and leadership. Don’t sound tentative when you speak. Instead, speak with a period at the end. In other words, affirmatively and with authority. You should also limit your use of phrases like “I think” and “I feel.” If you’re in a meeting where others are dominating the discussion, don't always wait for everyone to finish speaking before you chime in; you may never get the opportunity. Be ready to politely, but firmly Interject.
6. Watch your body language: Your body language speaks loud and clear long before you open your mouth to say a word. The way you carry yourself sends strong messages about who you are and how you feel about yourself. Your presence and demeanor communicate your level of self-confidence.
So, watch your body language and adjust as needed in order to communicate self-confidence. You can start to communicate self-confidence by watching your posture: hold your chin up, shoulders back, feet 12 inches apart with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. If you do this regularly, you will begin to feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin; owning who you are. As you communicate self-confidence with your body language, others at your new job will begin to view you as a leader.
7. Be engaging: Whether you’re at a meeting or at a social event your interactions with colleagues and key influencers will establish a foundation for your future success in your new role. Make it a point to be engaging and genuinely interested in the person you are talking to. You don’t need to be an extrovert to be engaging. Dale Carnegie, a master at building relationships, said it best when he wrote the “6 ways to make people like you” in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People:
8. Speak up: As an introvert, you are likely not prone to speaking just for the sake of speaking. This is a good thing. But, you should be prepared to speak when it matters. As the new employee on the block, always prepare before meetings. Review the agenda and consider how you will substantively contribute to the discussion. Perhaps you will make recommendations to a project or ask questions that will clarify a point.
You may even affirm someone else’s point of view or offer a different view point. Whatever your contribution is, be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. In addition, understand that using too many words can kill the effectiveness of what you’re communicating. Use fewer words and get to the point. Remember, every word you speak will help to build your credibility before your new peers.
9. Talk about your accomplishments: Many introverts miss out on leadership opportunities because they are uncomfortable with self-promotion. They think that self-promotion is bragging. But self-promoting and bragging are two different things. Bragging is ego driven; self-promotion is accomplishment driven. Find and/or create opportunities where you can update key stakeholders about your contribution to successful projects at your new job. Those early wins feed your confidence for the next win.
For example, speak about your accomplishments during your performance evaluation with your manager or at a status update meeting. You may even find an opportunity to share in a memo that is widely distributed throughout your organization.
10. Public speaking: While it sounds counterintuitive, public speaking is an excellent way to build confidence when you are an introvert. Find opportunities at your new job to speak at meetings, workshops, seminars, and conferences. In addition to helping you build confidence, public speaking is an important leadership skill to develop. You can join a local Toastmasters International group or work with a coach who will be able to provide you with personal individualized attention.
11. Stay positive: New jobs come with new people, a new company culture and often new challenges. That’s why starting a new job can be emotionally draining for an introvert. This can ultimately impact your level of confidence. To counteract this, train yourself to see the glass as half full rather than half empty when you encounter challenges at your new job. When you find your thoughts going in a negative direction, challenge yourself to focus on the positive side of things.
Ask yourself questions like: What can I do to improve this situation? What lessons have I learned that will help me be successful in the future? How can this situation help me to help others? In addition to asking yourself these types of questions, take the time each day to write down the things you are thankful for. For example, you may be thankful for the sunset, the change in seasons, your talents, abilities, friends, etc. These exercises will help you to develop an attitude of gratitude and will lay the foundation for an uplifted spirit, a positive perspective and a higher level of confidence.
12. Develop a growth plan: In this day and age, it is increasingly more important that you be strategic about your leadership path. Therefore, the earlier you do this at your new job, the better. Developing a plan and a timeframe for where you want to go and how you plan to get there. Begin by doing research. Become a student of your industry and your new organization. Become familiar with trends and organizational changes. Enlist the help and advice of mentors to help pave the way. This kind of research and planning will help you to make wiser decisions about leadership opportunities that may become available to you in the future. A growth plan will fuel you with a sense of purpose and confidence at your new job.
13. Volunteer for "stretch" assignments: As a new employee and an introvert, a great way to gain confidence at a new job is to volunteer for a stretch assignment. So, don't wait to be selected for a special project; volunteer to participate in one. Speak to your manager about your goals and how you believe you can make a meaningful contribution. When an opportunity pops up that will highlight your skills and capabilities, volunteer for it.
But, don't just volunteer for projects that will come naturally to you. Look for opportunities that will stretch you and help you learn new skills that will help you build your confidence. Be aware, nonetheless, that every new opportunity is accompanied by risk. But, it's a risk worth taking if you are ready for the challenge.
14. Celebrate your victories: Every victory you have at your new job will empower you and make you more confident. Relish those moments and celebrate your victories.
Ellie Nieves, JD, MBA, develops webinars, seminars, and coaching programs to help high achieving women show up, speak up, and step up in their careers. She is also the host of the Leadership Strategies for Women Podcast where she shares success tips to help women achieve more both personally and professionally. To learn more, go to: www.EllieNieves.com.