Hi, I am Melissa Walker, and I am an introvert.
I remember being a child that would hide behind my mother's legs at social gatherings. I was so nervous to meet new people. Honestly, I can say that even in college, I was afraid to walk to a counter and ask someone directions. In fact, not even 7 years ago I started studying the news just to find ways to communicate better. My thought was that I would have something to discuss in common with others if I watched the news. I mean, what else is there to talk about...the weather? That method wasn't working - I decided to take a different route.
Today, I have become what I call a "career extrovert." When I go to a business dinner or networking event, I am a social butterfly with many people talking to me. I have changed so much that about two years ago while teaching a class, I mentioned to the students that I was an introvert. No one in the class believed me. I even have established my own radio show, Journey2Business.
So what changed? Over the years as an introvert, it was easy for me just to sit, watch and listen. It finally dawned on me how to best communicate...simply. People like to talk. Some of the best conversations you can have are the ones you barely get a word in the dialogue. Why does this work? It's simple. When you speak, you are saying things you already know. When you listen, you get the opportunity to learn something new.
As a career coach, I now teach a term I created called SLANT (Start with them, Listen, Ask open-ended questions, understand the Need and then Tell your story). An example of how this works, in an interview, your goal is to find a way to meet the needs of the interviewer. If you just start telling the interviewer all the cool things you have achieved but forget the one important thing, what they wanted to hear. Instead, If you ask open-ended questions and determine their need, you then know exactly how your background and experience can help them solve their current problems. Isn't that a win? Not only that, but remember, people like to talk. When interviewers are the ones doing all the talking and the only things you say end up being the answers to their needs, you've just had a great interview.
This technique works in almost any conversation, not just interviews - especially when you show genuine interest in what the other person is saying. The lesson I learned as an introvert is, the best way to communicate is to shut up and listen. When you meet someone new as much as your tempted show how smart you are by saying everything you know, why not try this approach and see how much you learn? You might just learn something new and expand your network of people because they enjoyed your conversation. Happy conversing!
Want to read more on this topic? Check out:
- Introvert's Guide To Success In An Extrovert's World How To Take Advantage Of Your Inner Power & Quiet Genius
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
- The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength