I learned I was more introverted when I was about 40 years old. I completed the MBTI during a management retreat, and it rated me as an INTJ. My Italian family didn’t believe me although no one likely knew what introverted meant. Family and friends assumed I was a shy but often brassy Italian girl from Long Island.
“Oh dear, this means my sales career is over,” was my first thought.
Seriously, I was close to the top of my game being just promoted to sales manager. I had no idea this was a career path not to be traveled by introverts let alone to be successful in it. Guess those executive recruiters didn’t know much about this at that time?
Discovering my quieter nature explained so much to me. I had a flashback to my Italian family traditions. “That’s it. They were always my encouragers to speak up.” That would likely make for another interesting post about growing up as an Italian, who’s more of an introvert.
Maybe knowing there is still so much confusion about what introversion means and doesn’t mean is why I accepted the recent invitation to be a Quiet Ambassador for Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution.
Shhh: How the Quiet Revolution is growing
Here’s some of my story about discovering my quiet nature.
Many managers I would talk with loved getting out in their respective communities to “grip and grin” with their local business leaders. Most enjoyed networking so much it was invigorating for them. I hesitated to tell them I usually found them almost a “make me puke” event and, for the most part, ended up exhausted when they dragged on. I scheduled my days so I could attend events with my energy showing up in me.
When the role I was assigned grew to overwhelm, I was able to influence my managers to reshape our organization to help people and profits. Quietly I observed what was working, what wasn’t and then researched some different kind of organizational structure. I met with the general manager, more of an extrovert privately before calling a management meeting to be sure I had most concerns covered.
Just seven years being a sales manager did me in: “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.” One of my friends was famous for saying this all the time about work in general and I stole this line. My then circle of friends were amazed because they thought I was aloof to so much of their chit chat, how on earth did I pick that to quote?
Discovering listening helps
My next career path took me out of corporate work and on the professional speaker and trainer direction. For a short time until sales started to duplicate themselves, I hired a woman to do the cold calling for me. Even though somewhere along my sales career I earned a title of “cold call champion” as you might imagine it’s energy draining for almost any personality preference.
Today, as social media is useful a first contact, cold calling is somewhat warmed up. And it certainly helps to be listening from the beginning.
As INTJs feel we’re smart enough to listen without judgment, ask questions and then find a system to sell to the buyers style, not the way we want to sell.
This and a little bit of learned schmoozing and a sales path is possible with success.
While there are many kinds of introverts, we all have a little of both an introvert and extrovert in our daily lives. One of the best things about being more introverted is leaning toward liking small groups instead of inviting in some of the negative feelings we can get in a larger group. We can manage our communication and our energy better with two to five people.
When asked to be a VP of Membership of a local woman’s group of about 90 members, I asked questions, lots of them, of the extrovert leaving office. Their system of communicating was antiquated and manual; to be fair that was 2004. The committee was almost non-existent, maybe 2 or 3 people – hooray! There was opportunity to forge a new way, grow the membership and with a new small group.
All of a sudden a few more women wanted to join the committee, but it was manageable. The possibilities to grow were at stake. Seeing the big picture, having more minds to problem solve, and then to be able to quietly creating a new system came together for the success of all. The membership grew somewhere between 25% to 30% that year.
In leaving that position at the annual meeting that year, to move the spotlight, I chose to recognize the entire committee one by one. People told me it was brilliant.
Not every introvert is an INTJ type so if as you read you think, “Oh that isn’t me,” then likely it’s because you are another type.
If you can relate to needing to recharge as a business or social situation continues, it’s likely you are more introverted because it’s that at the center of what makes us more introverted. The older I get the more extroverts, even ambiverts like me, tell me “I need some downtime.” Indeed.
Now I’ve joined in and hope to be asked to contribute more to the online community, Quiet Revolution, created to connect and empower introverts around the world. It’s a free community so check it out. Also get a free copy of The Power of Introverts: 9 Best-Love Stories by Susan Cain while you’re there.
Susan Cain, the author of the best-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” co-founded the Quiet Revolution https://www.quietrev.com/. Their goal: to unlock the power of introverts for the benefit of all.
Are you already at The Quiet Revolution?
Introverted or extroverted, what power in you do you need to unlock?