There are occasional advantages to being more outgoing at work. And while this post doesn’t assume that all extroverts are assertive and all introverts are not, it’s safe to say assertiveness does not often come natural to those of us who tend to keep to ourselves. In fact, research shows that 4 out of 5 introverts believe that having more extroverted traits would help them advance in the workplace.
Introverts, there is hope for you yet. It’s very possible to stay true to yourself and still assert yourself in the workplace. Here are a few pointers.
1. Listen and prepare.
One super strength of introverts is that they are more likely to listen first, then speak. Take advantage of this strength and prepare for your next meeting or project. Nothing will help your confidence levels like a well-researched plan, so take time (alone! yay!) to think through possible questions that might come up and rehearse your responses.
2. Be mindful.
Have to give a presentation but feel like puking? Take a moment to center yourself and release any doubts that are passing through your mind. Or, do a power pose in front of the mirror before you step into the conference room. Yes, we’re being completely serious. This can boost your confidence levels and give you a rush of adrenaline that you might need to conquer your next task or difficult conversation.
3. Explain your needs.
Whether you’re communicating with a coworker or your boss, learning to explain your needs can seriously impact the efficiency of your communication. Don’t expect them to read your mind. Clearly communicate which needs are not being met and how they can fulfill them. If you’re struggling to get to this step, make a list and think through possible scenarios before you meet with the person. Again, preparation is the key to confidence.
4. Use a communication method that works for you.
Some of us need to look the person in the eye when we’re dealing with a conflict. Others of us would prefer the written word. Whatever your style, just make sure you’re communicating clearly and appropriately. If you’re upset, write it out and wait before you hit SEND. Come back an hour later and revisit your draft. If you decide to meet in person, give the other party a heads up that you need to talk to them about something important. That will give them time to prepare and they’ll appreciate not being bombarded with a conflict.
5. Ask for advice when you need it.
Enjoying alone time doesn’t mean we should work like we’re on an island. This isn’t good for you or your team. Remember that you have resources all around you to tap into. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
For more advice on assertiveness, here’s an awesome read.