I’m more introverted than many of my colleagues. I lead a large team and often feel like should communicate more like an extrovert. What do you suggest?
First, congratulations on your self-awareness. You usually seek your own counsel and probably prefer to work alone, hallmarks of introversion. You’re identifying situations in which you can benefit from engaging as an extrovert would. This is impressive self-analysis. I love your growth mindset! Knowing yourself leads to more successful, strategic communication. It prepares you to get outside your comfort zone. Next year, you could look back proudly at how far you’ve come as a leader and communicator.
I challenge you to explore three options that work for my coaching clients seeking to grow in expressiveness.
- You’ve got a head full of thoughts. Because your internal editor is usually in charge and quite exacting, you hold back when you could verbally participate. I want you to speak in every meeting you attend for one full week. Offer a question, some sincere praise, a concern, or an insight and do so in a warm, confident, audible voice. This will probably feel exciting but draining to you, so allow yourself needed alone time each day to reset and recharge.
- Act “as if”. Visualize someone in your circle whose outgoing style you admire. When you need to speak up, think about how that person would do so. What and how would he/she communicate? This is a powerful strategy. No one has to know you’re secretly someone else for a short time. It’s just until you become comfortable with your own voice.
- Document answers to the following questions: How does not speaking up comfort you? When are you likely to withdraw in communication? What does not speaking up cost you? Are you ready to turn those costs into gains?
Great coaches communicate constantly and consistently. I’m not saying you can’t have time for silent contemplation each day, of course you can. But expressing your praise, constructive criticism, and sharing what you see and what it means to those working for you is critical. If someone’s behavior impacts the individual’s reputation, team reputation, or the company’s reputation, it’s your duty by positional power to make it known. Think of expressing yourself as one important way you earn your pay. Be mindful that research shows praise should be shared 3-4 times more often than constructive feedback to balance your style. Be open to hearing what others think of your expression. Be brave.
Be, as Gandhi puts it: “truthful, gentle, and fearless.” Get in the game as a communicator and gifts will arise.