Being an Introvert with an Extrovert Job
Are you an introvert? A friend once explained that introverts get their energy from being alone, so that they can have the energy to be around others. And conversely, extroverts draw their energy from being around others, so that they can have the energy to be alone. I’ve always liked that explanation, but I never knew exactly which one better defined me. I mean, I definitely love to talk, but it’s easier when it’s a small group or just one person.
If you’ve ever taken the Meyer-Briggs test, I usually fall at 51% extrovert and 49% introvert. So I am an extrovert, but just barely. And I have an extrovert job: one where I am giving presentations, sales pitches, meeting with people, going to conferences, and oh my goodness, sometimes it’s exhausting. I’ve figured out a few ways to deal with being an introvert who has to be an extrovert on the job.
Don’t Contribute to Every Roundtable
I can’t help but analyze situations, and when you work with a group of people for long enough, you start to hear all about everyone’s personal lives. Not crazy details (although some people are more forthcoming than others), but sometimes everyone feels the need to share their long weekend story, their Christmas story and every other story. This is where my introvert side comes out and I have a very strong desire not to share what I did last weekend or where I plan to go this weekend. It may seem antisocial at first, but let’s be honest, not everyone really wants to hear about your life. I am doing everyone a favor by just skipping the roundtable every now and then.
Build in Quiet Time When You Travel
It’s great to get out of the office, but everyone who travels knows that your days are way longer when you travel. It’s not uncommon to start the day with breakfast together, attend meetings all day, and end with dinner with customers and coworkers. I don’t know about you, but there are very few people I don’t get tired of after spending 15-hour days together. But there is almost always an hour or two of down time between meetings or before dinner. This is when I usually take time to get out of the hotel or conference center, take a walk, or workout in the teeny-tiny windowless room at the hotel labeled “Gym”. Just having an hour to yourself will make dinner seem like less of a chore, and more of a chance to break bread with new people.
Capitalize On Your Other Skills
Even when you have a job where a big part of your work is talking, there are still a lot of other things that need to get done. Whenever there’s a presentation to be made, a pitch to be refined, I’m usually all over it. It gives me a chance to focus on what the big ideas are, and I generally tend to be a better presenter when I have practiced and refined my presentation by writing it down.
If you toe the line between introvert and extrovert, then it’s natural to want some downtime away from others. As long as you can find moments to recharge, you won’t go end up draining all of your energy because you can’t get a moment alone. And if you’re an extrovert in an introvert’s job, then just reverse the advice here to make sure you don’t spend too much time alone and not enough time getting motivated by spending time with others.