Overcoming Shyness: Become a Workplace Extrovert

Overcome shyness at workAre you an introvert or an extrovert? In most parts of life, being a quiet introvert, or “shy,” is merely a facet of your personality, and something that doesn’t need changing. However, shyness or introversion in the workplace might limit your success.

In a recent article, Fortune magazine fielded a question from a reader who struggled with speaking up at work: “I have always been too self-conscious to speak up and express my ideas. (Even as a student, I never raised my hand in class.)” The reader goes on to note that he frequently sees his ideas expressed by others, allowing them to gain recognition.

Fortune provided the reader with seven key tips for overcoming shyness at work. We’ll highlight those tips while also providing some key insights of our own.

7 Tips from Fortune

Fortune magazine provides these suggestions, sourced from executive coach and author Joel Garfinkle:

  1. Don’t underestimate your own ideas: The article notes that it’s important to always believe in yourself, even when you’re an introvert. You wouldn’t be invited to a meeting if the host thought you didn’t have anything good to say.
  2. Speak early to make your presence known: Garfinkle believes saying something within the first 10 minutes of a meeting is an excellent idea. This allows you to “break-in” to the ongoing discussion before anxiety takes over and you feel locked out.
  3. Choose talking points before meetings: Choose at least one item to discuss ahead of a meeting. By creating an agenda you’ll feel more confident chiming in when the subject arises.
  4. Frequently ask questions: Frequently raising questions with your colleagues is a must. This tactic will ensure others engage you in the conversation and create a more open rapport.
  5. Don’t restrict or censor yourself: If you think you have a great idea, Garfinkle notes, don’t let an opportunity to speak pass you by. He recommends making a commitment to bring up at least one “off the top of your head” idea each meeting. This will also help you feel more confident with off-the-cuff speaking.
  6. Use debate and disagreement to your advantage: Garfinkle cites research that different points of view actually help promote discussion when brought up. So if you’re communicating with a coworker, and you feel something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.
  7. Don’t defer everything to a boss or manager: This is a big one. If you’re a shy person, it can be easy to deflect all questions and comments to your manager, director, or boss. This only contributes to introversion further by taking away your expertise. Always try to answer questions or concerns yourself before passing them up the chain.

Most of the tips above are centered on in-meeting behavior. Garfinkle notes that the average employee spends almost 1/3 of a week in meetings. With our own set of tips, we seek to expand beyond the meeting room and provide general help.

4 Bonus Tips from CTU

These four extra tips might be just what you need to come out of your shell at work, ensuring your best ideas are always heard:

  1. Make your expertise clear: If you’re a real whiz when it comes to a certain topic, speak up! When you establish yourself as an expert, coworkers are more likely to head your way when they need something.
  2. Speak frequently with colleagues: You should be sure to do this even when outside meetings or gatherings. Getting to know each person’s role and knowledge will ensure you feel comfortable talking with them during future projects.
  3. Practice, practice, practice: This might sound odd, but take some time each week to practice public speaking. This can include running through presentations in front of a mirror or talking through important points with a friend.
  4. Always be prepared to speak: It won’t always be clear when you’ll have to speak in a meeting or other professional scenario. This can be nerve-wracking for an introvert, but it shouldn’t be. If you take the time to prepare talking points and are knowledgeable about the subject, you’ll be able to get through any communication challenge.

Stand Out with a New Degree

Are you looking to stand out from the pack at work? Colorado Technical University offers degree programs across a number of industries, from healthcare to business and beyond.

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