Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you're not familiar with these terms, let me summarise them for you. Extroverts find energy from interaction with other human beings, prefer to think out loud and enjoy being in vibrant surroundings. Introverts find energy when they are alone, prefer to think before expressing their opinions and enjoy quiet surroundings. Here's a quiz for you to find out whether you're an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert (which is a combination of both).
I'm currently reading a book called Quiet, by Susan Cain. I've not finished it yet, but the book begins with a discussion about how society nowadays has this perception that being extroverted is the ideal. But in reality, being an introvert is equally as awesome as being an extrovert - even if we don't see it much in the media.
Growing up, I was always described as "quiet" by my teachers, but my family and closest friends knew I was far from it. I just preferred to absorb and process information in my head rather than think out loud. Surrounded by classmates who talked loudly and expressed everything on their minds, I can understand how other introverts can feel out of place. We introverts may wait for the right time to speak up, but the right time never arrives because everyone else just won't stop talking. And when we do get a chance to speak, some of us speak too softly that nobody hears us.
So how can introverts learn to speak with confidence and clarity? I believe that confidence comes from being comfortable with yourself. You don't have to try to be like everyone else. There are people who like to think out loud, and there are people who prefer only to speak after they've done the thinking. Once you're comfortable with yourself and your introverted nature, you'll feel less self-conscious and more likely to speak up when you have something you need to say. Nobody is judging anyone for being quiet or loud - everybody is busy thinking about themselves.
But what about that soft voice most introverts have? A clear and strong voice is important especially when we need to speak in meetings or during presentations. I find that reading out loud and doing vocal exercises can help. Do this in front of close friends and family so that they can give you feedback. Are you loud enough? Do you speak clearly? Do you sound confident?
Being an introvert myself, I now have recognised the learning styles that I need to adapt to in order to express my views and thoughts more clearly. I hope that this message will help you to appreciate that being "quiet and reserved" is just as valuable as being "loud and outgoing". We just have to recognise where our strengths are and leverage on those strengths when it comes to communicating with others.
Each and every person is unique and there is a place in this world for every personality. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, share with us your experience in speaking with confidence. What challenges do you face and how have you overcome them? Leave us a comment below this post. We love hearing from you.