My boss was the Vice President of Nursing who hired me in the last job that I had as an employee in 1986. Not knowing I was one of the introverts, she would observe me sitting in staff meetings with the upper management of the nursing department. After a while she said, “You know Pat, you don’t talk enough. You just sit there and listen, and watch. I’m really uncomfortable with you just sitting there quietly.”
I thought, “What is this woman’s problem? This is me.”
Are you an introvert?
Does this describe you? An introvert processes information differently than does an extrovert. Introverts are
- Quiet and solitary
- Detailed oriented – makes us good LNCs!
- Thoughtful and need to mull things over
- Think before speaking
- Rarely interrupt when other talk
- Are good listeners
- Don’t like to wing it
Part of the world doesn’t understand the quieter introspective person. A recent study shows that introverts constitute half of the American population. Yet introverts are very misunderstood unless they have developed the ability to communicate with colleagues, co-workers and help them to understand what introverts need in order to function well at the workplace.
What I could have told my boss was, “Hey, I really am like everyone else. I just need to process information differently.” Quietness can make people uncomfortable as I realized with my Vice President of Nursing who was reacting to my personality.
How else are introverts different?
In addition to processing information differently, an introvert expends energy differently. Does this describe you?
- You recharge in solitude.
- A busy environment with hectic activity takes a physical and mental toll.
- Overstimulating environments overwhelm you.
An introvert’s energy is like a pitcher of water. Every morning we wake up and the pitcher is full. With every subsequent interaction, a little bit of that water from the pitcher gets emptied.
If we introverts don’t have quiet time or introspection time to refill that pitcher, we’re going to be cranky. If you have a job that might be outwardly facing in where you’re dealing with people on the phone or perhaps discussing a case it’s a good idea to build in some time where maybe you just even take five minutes. Put down the phone, go outside and breathe the air. Go for a quick walk and come back in. We absolutely must recharge.
Besides the communication aspect, which I mentioned, we also tend to process first and then speak. That might be something that others need to learn about us so that they know what we need in order to function.
How introverts adapt to an extroverted world
Just as extroverts need to understand introverts, there is also a need for introverts to modify their behavior. If you are an introvert, you might have
- Suppressed your quiet nature to survive in a louder, extroverted world
- Been pressured as a child to make friends
- Been forced to pretend to be more outgoing than you are
The result could leave you feeling drained and exhausted. In part 2, I focus on introverted expert witnesses.
Casey Carpenter is my guest on Legalnursepodcasts.com. She is a successful and introverted sales coach who shares tips about how to successfully navigate the business world as an introvert. Listen to her program here.