Redefining the introvert's role in the workplace
You may have noticed that I appear a bit different, more reserved than many others on the team. I would like to take this opportunity to share some points about me that might surprise you:
I do like people! I may not be the loudest or the most engaging person in the room, but I do enjoy time with other people. I prefer the time in short segments and with smaller groups of people.
It's nothing personal! My energy does drain during the day, especially from extended social interactions. I just need to recharge periodically. Sometimes I need a walk around the office or campus or grab lunch by myself to reenergize.
I am ambitious! I have career goals and aspirations. I may seem reticent, but I love to deliver. I take pride in my work, I want to succeed, and I want to progress. Please judge me for my accomplishments, not for my verbosity or vibrato.
I love to contribute! I don't usually jump into debates or have a quick-handed comment, but I want to contribute. For me, I pride myself in preparation. I need to prepare for meetings, strategy sessions, and conferences. That's why I book meetings on my calendar. So I can do my homework, consider all sides of an issue, and come ready to bring valuable perspectives and recommendations to the table.
I will make a great leader one day! Leaders are not just the ones that know everyone and command the room. I am great at getting to know my teammates one-on-one over time. I plan and strategize. I am resilient under pressure and don't have the ego that gets in the way of asking questions or soliciting help. And perhaps most of all, I am empathetic to others and leverage the strength of everyone to form cohesive teams that deliver great value. All I ask is for the opportunity to learn and have a chance to lead.
I can develop strong relationships! On the surface, you may think my quiet demeanor is not ripe for developing strong relationships. But I am driven to succeed and I like to develop work teams, project teams, and customer relationships...in my own way. I thrive in small groups (sometimes one-on-one, often two-on-two) where I can really get to know someone - what makes them tick, their motivators, their personal interests. And as I build this rapport, I can leverage this to deliver value for everyone.
I have a strong risk-seeking appetite! I don't think speaking or acting without forethought is prudent. That is not my kind of risk. But if I have time to evaluate a situation, analyze pros and cons, develop fallback options, and plan my approach, I love to put my money where my mouth is and advocate risk. I'm very analytical and will want to track progress and consider lessons learned afterward. I think this builds strong negotiating positions and a thoughtfully aggressive approach to business.
I am a loyal team member! Don't confuse my demeanor and enjoyment for independent work. I do like working alone. But I also work well with teams that respect each other and provide space for a diverse range of thought, including introversion. And with such recognition and accommodation, I am an uber-loyalist. I want to be paid a fair wage, but occasional recognition and job fulfillment are what keep me going every day.
I am a valued part of your team! Most managers now recognize the tremendous value of diversity - diversity of background and experience - on a team. Such a team considers approaches from other groups or companies, various technical considerations, and the perspective of past internal and external suppliers and customers when they are represented on a team. Introverts on your team maintain balance and provide a bit of caution to other's affinity for knee-jerk reactions. Introverts spark creativity, empathy, thoughtfulness, and authenticity. It's time for management that makes space for this diversity of thought and perspective as well.
All I ask is that you provide me the space to be me. If I feel like recognition and rewards come to those who are the loudest, I may cower in my corner. If I feel like reserved people like me are stereotyped without being given the opportunity to share our strengths, I may try to "fake it," to play the role of an extrovert, until I crumble under my own pressure. But if you give me challenges, ask my opinions, let me tackle issues in my own way, then I will give you everything I've got. And you and I, and the team as a whole, will be all the better for it!
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We all need courage in a time like this...
Available NOW...my AWARD-WINNING book, In Search of Courage:
I'm honored to share that In Search of Courage won the SILVER AWARD from the Nonfiction Authors Association, who noted:
Wallflowers of the world will rejoice upon reading Steve Friedman's account of his journey.
The stories in this book go from heart-wrenching to heartwarming.
I cannot imagine how scary it must have been for the author to share so much of himself with the world but I think the fact that he has, proves that he has found the courage that he was in search of. Perhaps this book will help others to do the same! - Nonfiction Authors Association Book Awards Program
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ASPECTS IN ART: EERIE SILENCE ON BEACON HILL (4/01/2020)
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