Most of you who know me, know my thing is connection – connection with yourself, connection with your business and connection with the community you are here to serve. Making that connection can seem easier for some than others, especially when it comes to first impressions.
Cue big groan from all the introverts reading this!!
Here’s the thing, first impressions do not have to make or break a connection, they can ease the way certainly. We have all met many beautiful, gregarious people, who hold the energy of the room – particularly socially, whenever they are in it. They often display extrovert behaviour, and for the time they are present they make an impact on those around them. They are often the rapport leaders in a group: if they are up, happy and engaged so are those around them; but if they are unhappy, in a mood or otherwise disengaged it can be very difficult for others to get fully involved and enjoy the moment.
The bad news for introverts is that they often find it difficult to ‘compete’ with this extrovert behaviour, particularly with new people and therefore, as far as first impressions go, it can often be a ‘slower burn’ i.e. it takes longer to make a real impression or connection. The good news for introverts is that they are disproportionally represented in world leaders, successful entrepreneurs and public figures at the top of their game. When an introvert makes that real connection they are easy to follow, they listen as much, or more, than they speak – this means they know what makes you tick, what you are likely to feel a connection with, and what you need out of the connection to feel engaged and valued.
Most introverts can’t be bothered to do this in a strategic way; it’s too much effort. When something matters enough, if it stirs enough emotion, positive or negative, then you’ll commit to taking action, to connecting with the people you need to connect with, to making the change, getting the job done or solving the problem. You do this because at an internal level you are bothered enough to make the effort!
Think for a moment about when you have been really bothered. Bothered enough to be compelled to act. What got you there: a crisis, an injustice, or a moment of personal insight?
Remember the introvert /extrovert spectrum is about where you source your energy, not about how you behave. Behaviours are often classed as extrovert or introvert traits but we all display some of each. I know many introvert speakers who you’d consider to be wildly extrovert when they are on stage – after which they need to lie in a dark room to get their energy back – well OK, I might be exaggerating a little there; the point is, behaving in an extrovert style is draining and they need quiet time to re-charge. True extroverts on the other hand, love the stage, the limelight; they feed off other’s energy and may well exhaust their audience before themselves (in a good way).
Behaviour is learned and often habitual, so if you are over egging the extrovert stuff and find it hard to connect, you can learn to tone it down. If you are not making connections because you are holding back, you feel shy or you find it too difficult, then start small with stuff where the outcome doesn’t matter too much, and work up to the bigger stuff. Get control over the ‘connection’. Ask questions, listen and steer the conversation to areas you are confortable, the others involved will tell you how to create genuine connection – and when not to try.
For those defaulting to extrovert behaviours challenge yourself to shut up and listen without thinking or planning what you are going to say next, let conversation flow and when it is your turn to speak again, you’ll probably say something more relevant and easier to connect with. For those of you who default to introvert behaviour don’t over process or reflect, aim to be in the moment and probably out of your comfort zone.
From one introvert to another, get out there and be bothered!