If you're an introvert, many aspects of life can feel extra-challenging. But they don't have to. It's completely possible for introverts to be confident—and to project that confidence. Here are 12 tips on how to build and project confidence at work.
1. Know that you are wired to lead
A common belief is that managers tend to see extroverted employees, not introverted ones, as leadership material, since extroverts are more talkative, energetic, and often popular. However, according to Professor Adam Grant from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, introverts can be better leaders than extroverts. 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. So if you're an introvert, let that sink in. You're 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. So if you're 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're 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 member 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 tips for success. 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 work.
4. Speak with a period at the end
In addition to your physical appearance, how you speak makes an impression. 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.
5. Watch your body language
Your body language speaks loudly and clearly long before you 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'll begin to feel relaxed and comfortable in your own skin, owning who you are. As you communicate self-confidence with your body language, others will begin to view you as a leader.
6. Be engaging
Whether you’re at a meeting or a social event, your interactions with colleagues and key influencers will establish a foundation for your future success. Make it a point to be engaging and genuinely interested in the person you're talking to. Remember, 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: 1) Become genuinely interested in other people, 2) Smile, 3) Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language, 4) Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves, 5) Talk in the terms of the other person’s interest, and 6) Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
7. Speak up
As an introvert, you're 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. Always prepare before meetings. Review the agenda and consider how you'll substantively contribute to the discussion. Perhaps you'll 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 viewpoint. 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 peers.
8. Talk about your accomplishments
Many introverts miss out on leadership opportunities because they're 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. These 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.
9. Stay positive
Building confidence is especially important when starting a new job. 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 a 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, take the time each day to write down the things you're thankful for, such as the change in seasons, your talents, abilities, friends, etc. This will help you to develop an attitude of gratitude and lay the foundation for a positive perspective and higher level of confidence.
10. Develop a growth plan
It's important that you be strategic about your leadership path, and the earlier you do this the better. Develop 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 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.
11. Volunteer for "stretch" assignments
A great way to gain confidence at work for introverts is to volunteer for "stretch" assignments. 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.
12. Celebrate your victories
Every victory you have on the job will empower you and make you more confident. Relish those moments and celebrate your victories.
A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, which helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.
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