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Being Introverted – You’re at A Disadvantage

I’ve wanted to be an introvert my whole life. It’s going poorly. Introverts think, then speak. What an amazing quality. Extroverts, like me, wake uintrovertedp talking and then spend much of the day apologizing for what we’ve said.

While I covet introverts’ thoughtful communication style, they are at a disadvantage. The people we work with are busy and have limited exposure to coworkers. As a result, others judge us very quickly. If we don’t speak up in meetings or find another way to express our thoughts, people are likely to think we have little to offer. Regardless of your communication style, if you want people to know the value you provide, find a way to share it.

You can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t become a different person to get ahead at work. You have to be yourself. Trying to be someone you’re not, will be painful, frustrating, and short lived. Rather than trying to become someone or something else, find ways to express yourself within your natural style.

Here are four tips to communicate powerfully as an introvert:

Being introverted communication tip one: If you know you’re hesitant to speak up in a meeting, perhaps share your views with the meeting attendees individually – verbally or in writing – before the meeting happens.

Being introverted communication tip two: Make sure the people who can impact your career know your accomplishments. You don’t need to wear a billboard advertising what you’re doing, sending a monthly list of accomplishments and priorities to your boss and boss’s boss (clear this with your boss first) will do the trick.

Being introverted communication tip three: Find your own way of talking about what you think is important. Maybe your conversations will be over lunch with one or two people. Perhaps you’ll periodically email key people with ideas. The point is to find a way to express yourself that resonates with your personal style. Don’t keep all your ideas to yourself.

Being introverted communication tip four: Push yourself to speak up in meetings more than you might naturally be inclined to do so. Being prepared will help you speak up.

Know what’s on meeting agendas. When you feel strongly about a topic, prepare what you want to say. Take notes and consider practicing out loud. Do whatever you need to to feel comfortable expressing yourself in front of a group. And if speaking up in a meeting feels too uncomfortable, remember, people who don’t get a lot of exposure to you are evaluating you based on your contributions during meetings. Find a way to make your views known.



Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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5 Responses to “Being Introverted – You’re at A Disadvantage”

  1. Danisha Sheppard says:

    I agree with this article. I am an introvert and I don’t want to be seen as not contributing or uneducated if I do not contribute when I am in a meeting. I already practice several of those communication steps to get my ideas across.

  2. Martha Turner says:

    For introverts who want more support and tools, and for extraverts who want to understand us better: “Quiet” by Susan Cain, is the single. best. book. ever.

  3. Karen says:

    Shari, Holy macaroni! This is me and now that I see it in print, it’s not even funny. For years I always felt uncomfortable speaking up at work meetings . Now I try tip #1 and it works well for me. If I speak up during a meeting I feel I either say too much or too little or ask too many questions or everyone else must know the answer to my question except me. I had wanted to be an extrovert but it isn’t me. I am happy with who I am and will work on tip 4 more frequently. Regards….

  4. Karen Hulett says:

    Being an introvert is indeed challenging in the office work space. I struggle with speaking up at meeting all the time. The four tips mentioned here are a wonderful place to start. I agree that being prepared is key. Thank you, Shari, for the tips!!

  5. Paula Moon says:

    I really enjoy your blog. Please add me to your mailing list.

    Thank you,
    Paula Moon
    HR Management Specialist III

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