I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been negatively judged (which then tempts me to judge myself) for the way I do business. As an introvert who also happens to be a business owner, I do not and cannot function in business using the methods promoted by our achievement and image driven, extroverted society. “Just get out there and sell yourself,” is easier said than done for an introvert. As much as I hate to admit it, Susan Lockridge was right in 1990 when she questioned if I would be able to succeed in the sales position I held with AT&T. I did not and could not – not because I didn’t try hard enough (for the record, I made 10,0000 cold calls in 18 months!!!), but because every single cold call sucked out a part of my soul. The job was killing me and if I had known then what I know now, I would have requested a transfer into another position more suited to an introvert – something that was perhaps more akin to relationship-building than shine, impress, sell and scoot.
Introverts, you see, are not “get out there and sell yourself” people, and when we try to fit into the mold of the “million ways to succeed” (ala Tony Robbins, etc.), we die from the trying. I’m happy that “proven formulas for success” work for some people, but for introverts, it requires so much effort to simply show up for these tasks that our true gifts and the reasons people want to do business with us end up collapsing under the weight of the “show” we are trying to put on. Weighed down by the show, our message then falls flat and we leave the experience exhausted from the trying and usually sick from the lack of exchange (we just gave our heart and soul and everything we had just to show up and ended up getting nothing in return).
While the “million ways to succeed” formulas don’t usually work for introverts (they might work….but they are killing us in the process), that does not mean that introverts cannot be successful in business. In fact, introverts can be some of the most successful business people because of the unique gifts that introverts bring to the table. Here are ten ways that introverts succeed in business where other people have failed:
- Many people do not like to be “sold” or pushed into making a decision. Introverts by nature are not pushy. Instead, they quietly provide the information necessary for making a decision, then make themselves available to answer any questions the prospective client/customer might have, and then they stand back as the decision unfolds on its own. This creates an environment of ease instead of one where the client might feel manipulated or pushed into making a decision.
- Because they are not putting on a show or trying to convince someone of something, introverts are more easily trusted and approachable.
- Introverts who are also “feelers” are gifted in the ability of “standing in another’s shoes.” They are attentive to how their customers/clients might be feeling and adjust their actions accordingly, thereby making the client/customer feel more comfortable and at-ease which leads to a relationship of trust – a quality necessary in any long-term business relationship.
- Introverts who are also “intuitive” are gifted in the ability to anticipate how people might respond to their offerings. This allows them to “hear” the hidden truth beyond their client/customers words which then helps them to reflect these truths back, again building relational trust.
- As the temperament that prefers a few intimate relationships to an army of acquaintances, introverts thrive in the art of relationship building. This lends itself well to positions and jobs where relationship building is valued and critical to the success of the business.
- Introverts tend to be careful listeners and are able to hear the deeper meaning and intent behind words.
- Because of their quiet and introspective nature, introverts are able to apply these skills toward their clients and customers – being able to “read” their clients and customers, thus gauging their deeper needs.
- Introverts thrive in positions where long-term relationships are critical to the success of the business and appeal to those looking for a long-term, trusting business interaction.
- While their extroverted counterparts might burst forth from the gate, introverts prefer a slow and steady pace. Introverts excel in building businesses that develop slowly while establishing deep and lasting roots. While the “get yourself out there and make it happen” approach to business might be wildly successful in the beginning they require constant effort and force to sustain themselves. Introverts, on the other hand, tend toward businesses that are slow growing, but ones that remain in the long-term without the need of constant effort to sustain them, becoming almost self-sustaining because of the deep relationships formed by the introvert; relationships that then provide the best and most cost-effective advertising around – WORD OF MOUTH!
And finally, #10 – As deep thinkers, introverts excel at dreaming up new ways of doing and making things. Like their businesses, an introvert’s new ideas may take time to fully form and to be accepted by the general populace – but their ideas help to make us a more compassionate and gentle world.
copyright 2015 Lauri Ann Lumby
Lauri Ann Lumby is the owner and director of Authentic Freedom Academy, providing transformational education and empowerment since 1995. Contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.