Search Results For "introvert"

photo: Creative Commons, Tom Edgington

photo: Creative Commons, Tom Edgington

I meet talented, smart, interesting people all the time who admit they’re nervous to connect with others. These people avoid networking events and chances to “mingle” before and after church because the idea of standing around making small talk sounds petrifying to them.

These are people of all ages, backgrounds and with all different experiences, but the complaints are still the same.

“I’m shy.”

“I’m not good with people.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m an introvert.”

I don’t want to ignore the fact that differences in temperament and personality do exist (a very intriguing and well-researched book about the introvert/extrovert dilemma is called Quiet by Susan Cain).

It’s just that I don’t think being an introvert, or even being shy, means you don’t have what it takes to connect in a meaningful way with others.

I’m an introvert, and connecting with others is one of the skills that, by the grace of God, I’ve been able to develop over the years. And, although I sound like a broken record, connecting with others is a skill you must master if you want to live up to your full potential in life and ministry.

Why do so many competent, capable people have a hard time connecting?

What makes them think they’re “not good with people”?

I think there are many reasons, but they all stem from the same place — insecurity.

If you are not secure in your identity in Christ — if you’re waiting for others to tell you are loved and valuable — connecting will always be scary (and you won’t ever be likable). Because no matter how many skills you learn to connect with others, no matter how much you practice, nothing can make up for the peace and security that comes when you know you don’t have to perform for others.

You already matter.

The worst part about insecurity is it tends to be a self-fufilling prophecy. You feel insecure, so you try to perform. When you perform, you’re not authentic. When you’re not authentic, people tend to notice. When they notice, they either criticize or disconnect.

And when they criticize or disconnect, it seems to reaffirm what you were worried about all along… that you “aren’t good with people.”

So what do you do to overcome your insecurity?

I don’t know that we ever overcome our insecurity 100% during our lifetime, but I think we can make really good progress if we’re willing to submit our lives to God and believe the truth of what He says about us.

The first place to start is recognizing the source.

To discover the source of your insecurity, ask yourself this: What would be the worst thing another person could think or say about you? If I were going to start a rumor about you, or talk about you behind your back, what would be the worst thing I could say?

That you aren’t smart?

You aren’t nice?

You aren’t funny?

Chances are, the way you answer that question is getting to the root of your insecurity. At that root is (usually) a lie you believe about yourself. Some people are insecure about the way they look (they’ve believed the lie they are ugly), others are insecure about their intelligence (they’ve believed the lie they aren’t smart), and others are insecure that they aren’t interesting or important (they’ve believed the lie they don’t matter).

What is your biggest insecurity? How is it holding you back?

Once you’ve identified the source of your insecurity, you can fight it with truth. John 8:32 says the TRUTH shall set you free.

Do you know the TRUTH of what God says about you?

If not, now would be a good time to get to work reading scripture. Look for verses that remind you the value you have in Christ. Commit these verses to memory, and use them to replace the lies you’ve believed about yourself.

Then, get to work connecting to others. Nothing will be more satisfying.

photo: Creative Commons, Cydcor Offices

photo: Creative Commons, Cydcor Offices

There are a lot of myths out there about what makes a person good at connecting. And often these myths keep talented people from connecting because they don’t think they have “what it takes” to be a great connector.

I shared about this recently when I wrote about how introverts can be great connectors.

I’ll say what I said in that post, again. Connecting is one of the most valuable things you can learn in business and ministry, and connectors aren’t born as much as they are made.

You can learn the skills of connecting, but only if you abandon these four myths that are keeping you from meeting the right people.

Good talkers are the best networkers.

It is actually the best listeners that make the best connectors.

People who ask great questions, and truly enjoy getting to know other people, are the ones who leave the most lasting impressions on those they meet. [tweet that]

So if you aren’t a big talker, that might actually work to your advantage.

Regardless who you are, work on asking good questions and listening. When the people you meet feel known and valued, they will become your biggest cheerleaders and advocates.

When a job comes open, they will think of you. When you need a favor, the doors will be opened. When you are without resources, they will equip you.

You aren’t nice in order to get something in return. This is just a simple example of reaping what you sow.

You have to make yourself seem important

Actually, the most sincere people are the best networkers. It’s true. Think of it this way. The word connection literally means to join two things together. You are one of those things. So, if you don’t act like yourself, no genuine connection was actually made. One of the pieces in the connection was missing.

The next time you meet someone, rather than focusing on impressing them, what if you focused on being yourself?

What if you took the pressure off?

What if, instead of making yourself seem important, you made other people feel important? [tweet that]

People are born networkers.

Actually, people learn to be networkers. People who seem like great “natural” networkers probably have two things in common. First, they probably understand the tremendous positive impact networking can have on your personal and work life. So, in this sense they feel strongly motivated to get good at it.

And secondly, they’ve probably been trying and failing for a long time.

Seriously. The way you get good at networking is the same way you get good at anything. You try. You fail. You let your failures inform you. Then, you get up and do it all over again.

If you’re afraid of failure, you’ll never get good at networking.

Can’t network unless you have something valuable to offer.

Actually, this is probably true. But you might have more value than you think.

One of the most valuable things you can do in networking is connect people to other people. This is where great networking skills really start to come in handy. The more connections you make, the more value you have to offer. And the more closely you listen when you ask good questions, the more you’ll know who you should connect to whom.

Also, sometimes the most valuable thing you can offer another person is really simple. When I’m done talking with someone new, I like to ask them this simple question: What do you need right now?

Sometimes, they need something I don’t have to give them.

But most of the time they need things like prayer, encouragement, a friend, a hug — all things I can afford to give freely.

So what are you waiting for? Why haven’t you gotten started connecting?

photo: Creative Commons, Dell Inc.

It’s a myth that introverts can’t be good at networking. Being an introvert, I can understand how networking might feel impossible for those who prefer to spend time alone, rather than in large crowds or at parties. But I also believe networking is a skill. And, like any other skill, it can be taught to any person, regardless of personality type or temperament.

I also feel very strongly that this skill must be developed if you’re going to realize your full God-given potential in your career and otherwise.

Here are five easy steps you can take to grow this skill. I hope they’ll be helpful for all, but I’m especially thinking of introverts as I write.

1. Show up

The first step to networking is to go where the people are. This can be downright terrifying if you’re an introvert, and if you haven’t practiced it much, but it’s the first step to becoming good at networking. You have to go to the conference, the party, the event — no matter how tempting it might seem to stay home.

It’s easy to get worked up with fear, or anxiety, or just exhaustion before you even leave the house. But chances are you have nothing to worry about.

Chances are you will have fun.

I’m not saying you can never stay home, or that you have to attend every event you’re invited to (I’ll get to that later). I’m just saying you won’t find anyone to connect with if you never leave your house.

2. Smile

This is so simple. But when you show up to the event or party, just smile. You don’t even have to say anything to anyone, or be overkill about it, but just look pleasant. Don’t stand against the back wall, arms crossed, with a scowl on your face. Just look open and approachable.

Research shows this posture (creating a smile with your face) actually changes your brian chemistry, and gives you positive feelings about people and circumstances, and makes you more open to whatever might happen.

As a happy benefit, there’s a good chance you won’t have to start a conversation with anyone. The conversation will likely come to you.

3. Start the conversation

Just stick out your hand and say, “Hi, my name is Justin. What’s yours?” It might seem terrifying, but don’t spend too much time thinking what happens after you ask that person’s name. Just ask their name, and see where the conversation goes.

4. Assume you’re not the only one

Assume you’re not the only one who is a little nervous to be there. Assume you’re not the only one who can’t think of what to say, or who stumbles in conversation. Assume you’re not the only one who is an introvert. Assuming this will make you more likely to make the first move.

What if that person across the room was as nervous as you were? What would you say to them?

Chances are you would smile reassuringly, reach out your hand, and say hello.

5. Introduce people

As an introvert it is much easier to introduce other people to each other than it is to be the sole owner of every relationship you carry.

Sometimes, when I introduce two people, I do so knowing full well that their friendship will become deeper or more substantial than my relationship with either or both of those people. I’m totally comfortable with that.

True networking isn’t about meeting people, its about connecting them.

6. Create space to recharge

If you’re a true blue introvert (like I am) it doesn’t matter how “good” you get at networking, it will still feel like work to you. You’ll still need to make space before and after events to recoup and recharge.

After a big event, I always try to take at least one day where I have extra space and quiet before I jump back into working and being around people. After a smaller event, I might only ned a few ours.

The same goes before events. I just like to give myself enough time to feel rested and prepared.

So be strategic about the events you attend. You don’t have to be at every single one. Know yourself well enough to know when you truly need rest, and allow yourself to rest. But push yourself out of your normal routine and what is comfortable to you to become better at networking.

You won’t regret it.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? What tips do you have for becoming a better connector?

About

August 22, 2013

JL-about

My name is Justin, and I love connecting people and resourcing them to have a great Kingdom impact.

With over a dozen years in local church ministry, I have spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the Kingdom.

I’m always looking for ways to resource the mission of the Kingdom. To that end, I recently founded YoungPastors.com to help inspire, resource, and connect young pastors.

I’m the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church.

I’m obsessed with connecting people and live my life daily to make the world a smaller place. I now serve as a consultant in the area of strategic relations for organizations like Assemblies of God, Leadership Network, and Convoy of Hope. I am helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.

I live with my wife and two kids in Red Oak, Texas.

Some of My Writing

Since I work in the church world, and love connecting people to others, I tend to write about leadership, connection, church innovation and team building. I write about these topics here on my site, and also several other places.

Here are some of the most popular things I’ve written:

Are Churches Isolating Introverts?

Why Being Original Is A Waste of Time.

Your Church Staff Needs More Women.

Three Ways To Network The Right Way.

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photo: Creative Commons, Gabriel Crispino

Introverted leaders are often made to feel like they don’t have what it takes to lead well. I know this because I am an introverted leader, and because I’ve watched many of my friends struggle to find their place as introverts in the leadership realm.

Here’s the thing. Introverts are not just capable of being great leaders. Leadership needs introverts. Great leadership can’t exist without the skills introverts bring to the table.

Before I give the encouragement I have for introverts, I need to say this: If you haven’t read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, go online and order a copy right now. If you don’t read anything else this year, read that. Regardless if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, Cain’s research will help you understand why we tend to favor extroverted personalities, and what we’re missing when we don’t allow introverts to express their values.

Introverts — we need your perspective in church!

If you’re an introvert, and you don’t love speaking up in small group Bible studies, or in church staff meetings, that’s okay. But please know that what you have to say is important, and when you don’t share, we miss out. That doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not. I just want to make sure you know your perspective is less valuable, even when you’re hesitant to share it.

Extroverts can make it easier for introverts by giving more quiet think time before moving on from an idea. Extroverts might think of this time as “dead” or even awkward, but introverts need this time in order to formulate their thoughts.

Extroverts can also help introverts by inviting them to share their ideas, even when they don’t readily offer them.

But introverts — speak up! Your ideas are important, and you are allowed to share without being asked.

Also, be present. You don’t have to mimic extroverted leaders, but we need you to show up.

As an introvert, you’ll lead in a different way than extroverts lead. Chances are, it will be a little quieter, with a little less fanfare. But your method of leadership isn’t second best. It’s not a cop out. Your introversion is not a defect. It’s an asset. You need to start to see it that way.

As an introvert, you will lead with actions first, words second. This is a good thing.

As an introvert, you are likely a good listener. This is a good thing.

As an introvert, you are probably highly empathic. This is a good thing.

These qualities make you more than just a good leader. They make you a great leader. But until you believe that to be true about yourself, you’ll shy away from opportunities to exercise your leadership skills, or you’ll waste your time trying to become an extroverted leader. Please don’t underestimate the power you have as an introverted leader, and please be willing to show up and lead.

Lastly, please know this is worth the fight.

It is worth the fight to discover what it looks like to lead well as an introvert. Our culture favors extroverts, even trusts them more, so this conversation can get uncomfortable. But the conversation is worth having because everyone benefits when introverts get to live in their strengths.

You have what it takes to be a great leader. Be willing to forge new territory with me and demonstrate how affective introverted leaders can be.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What unique quality do you think introverts bring to leadership?